Oneida County wants to take possession of the hangar at the county airfield that was under lease to Midair USA before it filed for bankruptcy protection last month. . .So at this point, Oneida County taxpayers likely have lost at least $600,000 in the County's dealings with MidAir.
On Sept. 9, Midair filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, meaning it is likely to liquidate all assets in order to repay secured creditors. The company said it had assets of between $1 million and $10 million, as well as debts between $1 million and $10 million.
It is unclear where Oneida County stands when it comes to recovering even some of the money it is owed by Midair. . .
At the time of the bankruptcy filing, the old debt [to Oneida County] had been reduced to about $587,000. An additional $43,200 was owed for unpaid rent since the new lease was approved and before the bankruptcy filing.
Being in business is always risky, requiring expertise to minimize risk, and sufficient return to not only cover expenses and balance out losses when they occur, but to make being in business profitable in the long run. Here, MidAir lost out and will go out of business. When its major client, Russian airline Transaero ran into trouble, Transaero's troubles caused Mid-Air's troubles.
Mid-Air and Transaero are not the only businesses in this story. Oneida County, by virtue of being a landlord, has gone into business as well. And in a domino-like effect Transaero's troubles which caused Mid-Air's troubles now cause trouble for Oneida County -- with the County's loss ultimately falling on the taxpayers.
-> Why should Oneida County taxpayers be exposed to risks originating in Russia?
-> Why should Oneida County taxpayers be exposed to business risks in general?
-> Why should Oneida County even be in business?
Certain things are best done by government, others best done by private business, and yet others where it may not be clear who can best do a particular task -- with trial-and-error being the determiner.
If they are not fatal (as in the case of MidAir) set-backs can be a learning experience for the business owner. Sometimes the experience leads an owner to decide it is better to not be in business.
Oneida County may be at that point. Should the County continue in the leasing business, exposing its taxpayers to business risks, or, instead, should it sell its assets and transfer the risks to the private sector?
Perhaps a larger question, given the steep drop in use of the County Airport since its move to the former Griffiss AFB from the more appropriately-sized Whitestown facility, is whether the County should continue in the airport business at all?
The County needs to decide whether the risks to the taxpayers of being in business outweigh the potential benefits.