$8.4M airport deal approved
The Hamilton County Council voted 6-1 to approve an $8.4 million purchase of hangars and the terminal building at Indianapolis Executive Airport on Oct. 2.
Councilman Rick McKinney cast the lone vote in objection. McKinney, who previously supported the airport purchase and numerous projects to upgrade the facility, disliked the proposal because of “vague and shifting reasons.”
“I believe we are acting hastily,” he said.
The deal calls for a $6.625 million bond by the county to buy the structures from Montgomery Aviation. According to the proposal, the county would buy the buildings and then lease them back to the Montgomerys, who would pay $420,000 per year with revenue from hangar leases with private plane owners. The county will pay $100,000 per year to make up the difference of the estimated $520,000 annual payment for the bonds.
McKinney said he would be in favor of the plan if two independent appraisers and inspectors investigated the property, Montgomery Aviation would not be leased back and 100 percent of the cost was covered without bonds.
“It’s a bailout (for the airport’s operator Montgomery Aviation) using Hamilton County tax dollars and should not occur.”
Supporters of the plan stated that municipal bond rates are at historic lows and it would be prudent to make the purchase now rather than risk higher rates in the future.
“It’s a fair transaction and the right thing for the community,” Kathy Mayberry, president of the Hamilton County Airport Authority, said.
“Before March 2012, Hamilton County suffered its third consecutive year of employee cuts,” McKinney said, adding only the state’s incorrect funding formula has allowed the county to return to a cushy position.
“I’m factually based. The airport and Montgomery Aviation had a deal to buy the buildings in 2043 or if both parties terminated the contract.”
Indianapolis Executive Airport is in Boone County, but Hamilton County purchased the airport in 2002 to keep it from being consumed by residential developers. The airport attracts a steady flow of business flights, carrying entertainers, wealthy corporate executives and sometimes professional athletes.