County commissioners on Tuesday refused a request from the Airport Advisory Board (AAB) to lower the rent on a commercial hangar.
At the Oct. 15 county meeting, Airport Director Alan Pierce told commissioners the AAB had discussed Randall Terry’s lease on the commercial hangar formerly occupied by Garlick Environmental Associates, and recommended Terry be allowed to lease the building and hangar for $1000 per month for 20 years.
Terry originally leased an existing commercial hangar for $500 monthly. That hangar, largely unoccupied since its construction in 2004, needs extensive work to convert it from storage to offices for use by Terry’s vehicle transport company.
The lowest bid to renovate the hangar, $350,000, came in at more twice the available funding. Commissioners on Oct. 1 unanimously approved leasing the Garlick hangar to Terry for six months at $1,200 monthly while they sought additional funds for the renovation.
Chairman Cheryl Sanders asked Tuesday why the advisory board recommended a lower rent than had already been agreed to by the commission. Pierce said $1,200 a month was a temporary arrangement and the AAB had determined no money was available for the required renovations.
Pierce said Terry proposed the $1,000 rent because he didn’t want to wait six months for a final decision on the cost of leasing the hangar. He said under the new agreement the suggested rent of $1,000 could be reviewed every five years and increases would be capped at 20 percent. Pierce said Terry would not be allowed to sublet space in the hangar without county permission.
Pierce said it was necessary to reach an immediate agreement with Terry because Jacksonville physician Randy Randolph wants to rent the 2004 hangar originally leased to Terry.
Pierce said there might be sufficient funds to equip the 2004 hangar for Randolph’s needs and that Randolph was willing to pay $350 monthly for use of the hangar.
Pierce said Lee Lewis, of AVCON, the airport’s engineering consultant, is reviewing the bids to see if the $94,000 in grant funds targeted for the 2004 hanger is sufficient to produce a building suitable for Randolph. Pierce said Randolph could rent a tee-hangar until a decision about the 2004 hangar is reached, but wants a timely answer to his request.
Sanders said she was concerned the airport board had suggested a reduced rent for Terry in opposition to the fee already set by the county.
Commissioner Pinki Jackel asked if it was possible to make the 2004 hangar Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) compliant for less than the low bid of $350,000. Pierce said it might be possible, and that Terry wanted his office space to be upstairs which increased the cost of renovation.
Commissioner Noah Lockley asked why Terry should be allowed to rent the building for less than the $1200 monthly paid by Garlick and Associates.
“If you don’t keep this thing level, you’re going to go in the hole,” Sanders said. She suggested the difference in rent might be split between Randolph and Terry.
Pierce said the AAB expected to collect $1000 monthly from Terry and $500 monthly from Randolph.
“Right now it’s sitting empty,” Commissioner Smokey Parrish said. “Right now we’re generating no funds out of it.”
Jackel said she thought the Garlick hangar had been leased at the last meeting. County Attorney Michael Shuler said Terry has not yet signed a lease.
“I’m like Smokey,” Sanders said. “I want to see it rented out too but I don’t want to see us going in the hole over it.”
Parrish said if the 2004 hangar was only going to bring $350 monthly in rent he would prefer the building be used to store county equipment and protect it from the weather. He said equipment storage and maintenance was the original intended use of the 2004 hangar.
Parrish moved to lease the Garlick hangar to Terry for $1,000 and use the 2004 hangar to store county equipment.
Sanders said the county attorney had already prepared the lease to rent the Garlick hangar at $1,200 and that an advisory board should not contradict a decision by the county commission.
“All these advisory boards are in my craw, this morning,” she said. “They come to us for recommendations. We have to work together. I don’t want conflict between all these other advisory boards but at the same time, the ultimate decision comes down to this board. We’re the ones that take the flack from the public.”
Commissioner Noah Lockley said “that’s a big building for $1000 a month.”
Jackel said “It kind of looks like the tail wagging the dog.” She suggested the commission leave the temporary lease in effect and renegotiate when the lease is up in six months.
Parrish moved to leave the six-month lease in place followed by a five-year lease at $1,000 monthly. The motion passed unanimously.