Using city funds for hangar a bad deal

6 years ago

To the editor:

Last week the Star-Herald had two contrasting stories.  A front-page story stated the city was planning to spend $658,000 of public money to build an airplane hangar for five private citizens, and a last-page story stated the city was short $600,000 to replace a 34-year-old fire truck.

The City Council recently approved borrowing $270,000 from its development fund to help pay for a new airplane hangar.  Personally, I do not see how building an airplane hangar for five private citizens creates any permanent jobs or promotes the common good.  The online public packet for the City Council meeting did not include any justification for the project or any analysis demonstrating the financial sustainability of this project.   

Having the city borrow $270,000 from itself is a bad deal, and it makes leasing hangar space to private citizens a losing business.  The City Council should withdraw from this deal and restructure it so that the private citizens are carrying the risk. At a minimum, take the $270,000, divide by five, and ask each of the five private citizens to advance $54,000 for their hangar space.  Structure the deal like a condo project, where the city owns the building and the private citizen owns the hangar space and pays a monthly user fee.

Maybe then, and only then, will building an airplane hangar for private citizens be fair to all concerned.

Stephen Freeman

Presque Isle