Those leasing lots at the Ponoka airport will soon receive an increase.
At its meeting Sept. 11, town council approved a recommendation for a 2.5 per cent hike to the lot lease rates for 2019, which was unanimously approved by the airport development board at its meeting last month.
Chris McKenna, town operations manager, presented the recommendation that would see another $11,737 in revenue generated. This will add to the $45,000 lease revenue that was budgeted for 2018. He added that even with the jump, which would be applied to covering the airport’s operating deficit, the airport will still be in the negative financially.
In 2018, it was anticipated the deficit would be just over $33,000 while the lease rate rose five per cent.
The rate hike applies to the 33 leased lots, while the airport has 54 lots for hangers.
“This is generally not done until budget, however in the lease agreements, we must give 90 days notice of any increase,” explained Coun. Teri Underhill.
“With budget not usually until November, then there is not enough notice and some are using that in order to not pay. I strongly urge you vote for this, so we can give that proper notice.”
Mayor Rick Bonnett spoke out against the proposal, as he would like to see administration first make progress on actually selling lots to some of the people who have been asking for that to happen for as long as five years ago.
“Obviously, a lot want to buy their lot, but with us going back and forth about buying or continuing to lease, there needs to be some continuity,” he stated.
“I’ve heard from more users that costs are going up, but that they would like to purchase instead of throwing money out the door on leases.”
Bonnett added that purchasing is preferable to some because they currently can’t make any improvements.
Meanwhile, Coun. Carla Prediger noted a more in depth airport presentation is coming in the near future, but wondered why the urgency on the lease rates this year. She asked if the leases could be changed to reflect town budget timelines.
Underhill stated a number of the leases have been in place for many years and nothing can be done unless a lease is agreed to.