A dispute over a proposed raise in rent led to a shouting match between Barrow County Airport Authority chairman Frank Nocera and the owner of a flight school Monday night.
In a letter to Robert Mancini, owner of Romanair on Aug. 24, Nocera requested $3,867 per month building rent, plus $7,623 per month for the land Romanair currently rents. This total of $11,490 per month, Nocera said was based “on comparable airports and is consistent with current rates for similar properties at the Barrow County Airport.”
The matter was not settled Monday night and another meeting is slated for Sept. 30 at 1 p.m.
In addition to Nocera and Mancini, authority members Scott Miller, Quinn Born and Don Holiday were at Monday night’s meeting, along with office manager Wanda Mitchell.
Citing his company’s long rental history at the airport, the business and revenue Romanair generates for the airport, the depressed economy and his company’s “responsibility and obligation” to the airport, including requirements to operate seven days a week and carry liability insurance naming the airport authority on the policy, Mancini requested his rent not be raised from the “$2,200 per month” he said Romanair currently pays.
But Holiday disputed Mancini’s statement that Romanair pays $2,200 per month, saying the actual monthly charge for the building is $576, (which calculates to 36-cents a square foot.) “We have other metal building tenants at this airport paying $1.77 per square foot,” Holiday said. Calculating Romanair’s current land rent at “30-cents a square foot,” Holiday said, “even in this economy, the going rate (for land) is 44-cents a square foot.”
Later in the meeting, however, Holiday said, the authority has “quoted 30-cents a square foot” in response to several inquiries about raw land/ground lease for hanger construction.
Mancini asked Nocera where the proposed rent figures in the letter came from. Nocera said “from some studies…and appraisals we did here several years ago.” Mancini asked Nocera why he had told Mancini the authority has received “multiple requests from people wanting to build hangers” during the past year (which would drive airport rent up), but when Mancini filed an open records request with the authority and received specifics, only one written request for information had been made.
“There was nothing concrete about it,” Nocera replied, “just conversations with individuals.” The amount of money Romanair actually pays the authority each month was disputed again when Mancini pointed out that Romanair currently pays “25 percent of what’s collected” from ramp fees (fees charged for “tying an airplane down”) on the land Romanair leases at the airport.
For more on this story, see the September 29 edition of the Barrow Journal or click hereto read the full story online when you subscribe to our new e-edition.
Frank Nocera has not a clue how to operate an airport. If he had any marketing skills, he would pursue addtional tenants and more specifically commercial aircraft operators to utilize the airport and generte more sustainable income. Instead, he wants to lean on a long term business/tenant to carry the burden. Thanks to the previous airport manager, barrow was able to improve the airport (with the funding of the feds) in an effort to attract business customers but the current authority is completely clueless on how to maximize these improvements. The airport has went down the tubes since the installation of this current authority!! Idiots!
Im a pilot who uses the airport......trust me I have seen these things first hand!!