Thursday, February 07, 2013

Guthrie County Regional Airport (KGCT), Guthrie Center, Iowa

Tuesday morning, supervisors were visited by members of the Guthrie County Regional Airport Board and numerous other supporters, including Bill McCarty, President and CEO of Brokers International, and two members of Snyder and Associates airport planning team.

The regional airport, located three miles east of Guthrie Center, is home to a 3,400' paved runway, four hangars for 17 private planes, and two additional hangars for Brokers International planes.

There are currently 19 planes hangared at the field.

 Supervisors approved $20,000 in taxpayer funding for the airport in last year's budget.

  McCarty, who employs 110 workers, opened the meeting explaining the importance of the airport to Brokers.

"We fly approximately 400 business trips in and out of the airport per year," stated McCarty. He explained that flying agents in and out of Des Moines would not only cost his company valuable time and money, but that it would also keep passengers and flight crew from spending money locally.

"The airport is extremely important to us. We bring quite a bit of business into Guthrie County through it," concluded McCarty.

 Supervisors did not question whether the airport should once again receive funding, but Mike Dickson did question the current funding method.

Dickson pointed out county tax dollars come 100% out of the rural levy.

"I believe the money should be pulled from the general fund," argued Dickson, "because it is not just rural taxpayers who benefit from the airport. Everyone does."

Dixon also questioned taxpayers subsidizing airplane owners for hangar construction, stating, "If I build a machine shed on my farm, I have to justify a 10 year payback."

A new four-plane hangar recently completed at the field cost $460,000. Current rental fees are $125/month/plane, which means a total payback of $6,000 per year. That equates, in Dickson's terms, to a 77 year payback.

 However, board member David Ahrens explained the airport received "90/10" grant funding from the government for the hangar, meaning the airport actually provided only a 10% match for the project - $46,000 - not the full $460,000 cost.

Ahrens told supervisors, "We do a good job running the airport for you for free. Your money is well spent, because we donate all our labor simply because we love what we do. You couldn't afford my hourly rate if I didn't."

 The Snyder and Associates planning team discussed proposals to lengthen the field an additional 600' to 4,000,' a move which would allow larger business planes to use the field. One member of the team explained, "Build a mile of road and you can travel one more mile. Build a mile of runway and you can fly anywhere in the world."
Members of the airport board stated they would like to lengthen the runway in the next five years.

 Supervisors will finalize the airport budget Thursday at 9:20 a.m. 


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