Friday, July 11, 2014

The Griffiss Albatross . . .

Per the Rome Daily Sentinel, MidAir USA, one of the aircraft maintenance companies at Griffiss "International" Airport, owes Oneida County almost $450,000 in back rent and other charges! With a base rent of about $50,000/month, the tenant is roughly 9 months behind.  While O.C. legal counsel sent a letter demanding payment, neither a deadline nor consequences were mentioned.

Of course not.  Having sunk well over $100 million of taxpayers' funds into the Airport, the County doesn't dare risk MidAir's 210 jobs by taking specific action. . . So taxpayers are held hostage. 

$450,000 spread over 210 employees means that the taxpayer has loaned the company (in violation of the State Constitution, B.T.W, but no one pays attention to that anymore) almost $2150 per job!

Add to this the value of the money spent constructing and maintaining the County Owned facilities being occupied, one has to wonder just what the taxpayer is getting for all this spending?  The last we heard, the airport was losing over a $million a year (which undoubtedly did not include the time-value of the millions already spent on facilities).

Do the County Taxes paid by the holders of taxpayer-subsidized jobs make up for the costs? When will taxpayers be provided with the true costs and returns on their airport "investments?"

If I'm wrong, please correct me, but Griffiss "International" Airport seems to have become an over-sized albatross hung around O.C. taxpayers' necks.  I'm tired of paying and waiting for the next "big thing" (drones?) that supposedly will make the spending all worthwhile.


In another vein but related, it is disappointing to constantly have to turn to the Sentinel for County news.  I like the Sentinel --  it is a good newspaper -- but because I live in the Utica area rather than Rome, I tend to check the Utica news more often and sometimes miss County news in the Sentinel.

The Utica paper just got a  new publisher who is interested in listening to people's suggestions for improvements.  Here is mine:  We need more County news, particularly the activities (shenanigans?) of the County Legislature.  Utica is the County Seat, and Greater Utica pays the bulk of the taxes that keeps the County -- including Griffiss "International"Airport  -- going.  Greater Uticans want to know how their County tax dollars are spent, and what they are getting in return.


Anonymous said...

This needs to be investigated!

Anonymous said...

Midair's leases all expire in October 2015 at which time the company will probably entirely relocate to its new facilities at Melbourne, FL.

The Sentinel has always provided better news coverage of Griffiss than the Utica OD.

Anonymous said...

The fundamental problem is that the people in charge have never acted in good faith. The Oneida County Airport was closed and relocated to Griffiss to serve the needs of the GLDC and EDGE, not the needs of the people of Oneida County. The GLDC and EDGE could not afford to operate, maintain and upgrade the airport, so they got the County to do so.

The 394 Hangar Road Corp., a subsidiary of EDGE, rehabbed Hangar 101 and has had a series of tenants, the latest being Premier. EDGE has a contract with the County to market the airport. Instead, through its control of the marketing, it has acted to protect its tenant(s) from any competition at the airport. Midair’s presence was permitted because it was not in competition.

Picente wanted to privatize the County operated FBO for supposed cost savings, and brought in Million Air, which the County has subsidized with millions of dollars to avoid the political embarrassment of it closing.

Through political influence, primarily Schumer, Griffiss was selected by the FAA as a drone test site. NUAIR was leased a 28,000 sf hangar for $1 a year to subsidize it. A similar hangar is leased to Midair for $144,000 a year.

Aircraft operations at Griffiss have never reached the same level as at the former county airport. From a high of 60,265 in 2011 traffic has decreased to 33,503 in 2013, a 44% decrease. Civil aviation has decreased by 50% due to Million Air’s interest in only military aircraft operations.

No one in charge is acting in good faith!

Anonymous said...

Oneida County Aviation Assoc. and several of it's members pointed out, starting 3-4 years before the actual move, that it would be a huge financial mistake for the tax payers of OC to close the Oneida County Airport, just after millions had been sunk into it and all ran relatively smoothly there.......
OCAA hired consultants and did studies, but some of the power monger legislators were more interested in lining their own pockets and building their own egos and power. They never had the interest of the OC tax payers at heart and scoffed and the 100+ private and corporate pilots who more than proved the mistake this would be for the the way, most of those pilots were successful business owners and CEO/upper management and professionals who were much more successful than the entire legislature. They also employeed hundreds, if not thousands of people and were trying to volunteer their expertise to help bring success back to Oneida County.
I can't explain to you how poorly this sector of our community has been treated by the county representatves.
Just ask how many different paychecks the leaders of EDGE and other county "corporations heads" are receiving and do a little research on how much money has passed back to some of the legislators, one way or another.
The International Airport at Griffith has been a gold mine to many people personally, but has cost the taxpayers and community dearly.
It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to find this information if someone had the true desire to help this county and it wasn't destroyed before you could get to it.....
Just one more disappointment in the regression of OC and those who pretend to run it.

Anonymous said...

One of the culprits that has benefited financially from the closure of the former county airport is C&S Engineers. C&S did a study in 2003 that served to validate the move to Griffiss. Subsequently, C&S has been paid millions for its engineering consulting services at the airport.

Dave said...

What an awful name for an airline. MidAir. !!!