Special to The Gardner News
The conference table in the Johnson County Airport Commission (JCAC) boardroom at One New Century Parkway was extended to accommodate the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), for a joint meeting on April 26. JCAC continued with a regular meeting following the joint meeting.
Storm damage recovery
Brad Weisenburger, JCAC chair, welcomed the groups and introduced Jim Allen, BOCC vice chair.
Allen said he spoke on behalf of the chairman and fellow BOCC commissioners in thanking JCAC staff for their work.
“We do appreciate the hard work that the airport’s commission’s been doing. We know there’s been several things and issues that you’ve had to deal with recently,” said Allen.
Allen was referring to staff’s response to recent storm damage to hangars at the Executive Airport.
Later in the meeting, Larry Peet, JCAC deputy director, gave an update on the ongoing repair efforts.
Peet said 75 percent of the aircraft had been removed from the five damaged structures.
The remaining planes are in the building with the worst structural damage. Extraction will require careful demolition of hangar walls and doors.
Construction companies have been asked for proposals and recommendations of process necessary to safely extract the final 12 aircraft.
In the JCAC meeting following the joint meeting, Aaron Otto, JCAC executive director, said he had been told this was the largest single property loss the county has suffered in at least two decades.
Staff continues to work with insurance companies on claims.
Five plane owners and patrons of executive airport stayed to the end of the second meeting to speak to commission about the problems they are experiencing.
Otto, presented a review of proposed budgets.
The review included charts covering actual numbers from past years to 2014 and proposed numbers through 2019.
Capital expenditures were projected to 2022.
Staff has been looking at the five ‘cost centers’ individually.
Cost centers are the business park, New Century Airport, Executive Airport, water and rail services.
“Both rail and water are losing money,” said Otto.
Otto said the road to a balanced budget for the airport includes working on cost recovery for water and rail.
“We made suggestions that were adopted by JCAC in the preliminary budget to try to start closing those gaps in rail and water, so that they become more cost neutral,” he said.
Staff offered the option of raising rail rates – by increasing fees for switching, weighing and storage.
This would be the first rail services increase since June 2014.
Water service is forecast to lose around $90,000 a year for the next few years.
Staff suggests an option of raising water rates by 6 percent in FY17, FY18 and FY19.
The last water rate increase was in May 2014.
Otto said that Olathe, Gardner and RWD7 have all increased water rates in recent years.
Water rates were discussed again in the following JCAC meeting.
Beth Warren of Ranson Financial reviewed details of a water rate study with commission.
The firm recommended increasing the rate by 6 percent on July 1 and 10 percent in following years.
After much discussion, Lee Harris, JCAC vice chairman, made a motion to increase the water rate by 10 percent on July 1, which was approved by commission vote.
The motion does not address any future rate increases.
Commission considered renewal of service agreement with Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation (SWJCEDC).
Otto said the original two page agreement had increased to six pages. The agreement offers new incentives for SWJCEDC.
Jill McCarthy, commission member, said by phone that the agreement addressed expectations and accountability.
“In my opinion it’s a very well rounded comprehensive document,” McCarthy said.
Greg Martinette, SWJCEDC president, thanked the commission members and staff that helped draft the agreement.
While reviewing past and present projects, he said there were two new retail businesses and possibly a second hotel expressing interest in building in Gardner.
“We’re working on some things that you’ll see great value from,”Martinette said.
Commission approved the agreement with SWJCEDC.