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Airport seeks to hike fees

Fees could jump from nearly 17 to 25 percent at the Nevada County Airport this summer to balance the facility’s budget, but some longtime pilots are unhappy with the proposition.

Airport manager Greg Marshall and airport commission members recently sent a proposed 2008-09 budget of almost $500,000 to county officials for review.

The proposal calls for a 16.6 percent increase for permits for personal hangars, tie downs and access for 11 adjacent homeowners who wheel their planes onto the runway. It also calls for a 25 percent hike for pilots using county owned hangars and a possible increase of up to 4 cents a gallon for fuel.



The proposal means users of tie-down spaces and adjacent homeowners getting airfield access would see prices go from $42.54 to $49.63 per month. Cost for personal hangars would rise from 60 cents to 70 cents a square foot, and the cost for county owned hangars would rise from 20 cents to 25 cents per square foot.

The increases are needed to keep pace with inflation, a slight increase in salaries and a looming $20,000 deficit, Marshall said.




“We felt it was a reasonable fee increase, with expense reductions of $7,000,” Marshall said.

Three veteran airport users are not buying it.

Former airport manager Harold Wolfe, who ran the facility from 1995 to 2000, protested fee increase proposals in 2006 but was glad when they remained in the cost-of-living range.

Now “users are asking if we are going to go through this every year,” Wolfe said.

“The county’s looking to spend less general fund money,” said pilot Tony Rivera. “Their (airport) salaries and numbers of people are more than they should get along with.”

“I like Greg, but they’re overpaid in their staffing,” said Jack Cramer, a former airport commissioner who quit in 2006. “There’s many days in the winter when people just don’t fly, and they’re sitting around out there.”

As airport manager, Marshall makes $76,000 a year plus benefits, he said.

Lead Worker Rob Kopp earns $41,000 with benefits, and Senior Account Assistant Diana Riley makes $25,000 plus benefits for a part-time position. All of the salaries reflect the partial increases approved for county workers by the county Board of Supervisors last year.

Three part-timers who work weekends and then nights during fire season when the airport is open around the clock are projected to cost $26,000 this year, Marshall said.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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