Previously approved increases to fees for renting some hangars at the Ashland Airport were rolled back by the Ashland City Council at its Nov. 20 meeting after some pushback from users saying the rate would be out of line with what’s charged by comparable facilities.
At its June 5 meeting, the council approved an increase to a certain class of hangars to $.2987 per square foot. They voted to reduce that to $.25 per square foot, about 16 percent less.
The hangars in question were built by people using their own funds, who paid a nominal rental fee for 25 years, after which they agreed to deed the structure to the city, an arrangement known as a reversionary clause.
Deputy Public Works Director Scott Fleury said there was an established fee of .29 cents per square foot a month for the first hangar that came into city ownership in 2009. This hangar is a reversionary commercial-type, which is slightly nicer than the other hangars in question.
In general, rates for airport hangar rentals in Ashland vary between .21 and .29 cents per square foot a month dependent on type, age and hangar amenities, Fleury said.
“After deliberation, the Airport Commission recommended the new fee tier rate of .25 cents per square foot a month that coincides with six reversionary hangars currently, and I believe three more to come in the future years,” Fleury said.
Two hangar leasers and a previous Airport Commission member challenged the fee increase at the meeting including Harold Lee, who built his hangar 25 years ago. Lee brought comparable data to the Airport Commission’s attention at a September meeting. He made it clear that the proposed new charge was too high and that if the charge was accepted, he would move his aircraft. He said most likely a few others would follow his lead.
“I feel that the rate that they (Airport Commission) first proposed was extremely too high and the rate that they had at their last meeting, which they decided to present to you for approval, was also extremely high,” Lee said.
Lee said the consensus of the commission at the last meeting was figuring out “What the market could bear,” a phrase that struck a nerve with some of the current leasers.
“Another comment was made that was, ‘If I am to live in an upscale community like Ashland, then I need to get used to paying above average prices’ and I didn’t feel that was the correct attitude to be presented by our commission,” Lee said.
The Airport Commission compared these six hangars with rates from Bend, Redding, Grants Pass and Medford. These hangars are non-commercial, have old style doors, no restrooms and no gas heat, so a lower fee was suggested. They were built in 1993 as private hangars and the rent was subsidized to reflect the original investment of the occupiers. So, a monthly nominal fee of $27.48 (total) was charged, a “sweetheart deal” as Lee begrudgingly repeated. He said a commissioner referred to the old deal in that manner and it was offensive to him.
The new rate will net $409 a month for the 1,638 square foot hangars (25 cents a square foot).
Each spring, the Airport Commission evaluates the existing rates and recommends adjustments as needed to the City Council as part of the miscellaneous fee updates, according to a staff report.