OSWEGO COUNTY — Buying a hangar at the Oswego County Airport was the issue to receive the most discussion at the Sept. 12 meeting of the Oswego County Legislature.
The legislature approved the purchase of the new hangar from Gypsum Aviation Services, LLC at a cost of $852,300. The money would come from the county’s tobacco money fund.
Proponents of the action stated the heated hangar will be a plus for bringing new business to the airport and providing more services and an indoor spot for airplanes and jets. It also would allow bigger jets to be housed at the airport.
But some of the legislature Democrats felt differently.
Legislator Marie Schadt, D-town of Oswego, said she was concerned about the loss of tax money if the county owned the hangar. She said the county would lose $76,000, the town of Volney would lost $2,948 and the Fulton City School District would lose about $23,000 in taxes paid by Gypsum Aviation.
“I don’t see the income we are making off the hangar matching the tax loss,” she said.
Legislator Heather DelConte, D-Volney, said she had not seen an income spreadsheet on the issue and wondered about the hard numbers involved in the sale.
Legislator and Minority Leader Frank Castiglia, D-Fulton, also was concerned about taking a property off the tax rolls.
“Some of the biggest problems we say we have in the county is unfunded mandates, delinquent taxpayers and the loss of taxes through government-owned properties,” he said. He said the county losing $7,000 in taxes may not seem like a lot in a multi-million dollar budget. But “there are 10 properties we could have to pick up (to put on the tax rolls) to make that up. Let somebody else buy the hangar and pay the taxes.”
During the recent Infrastructure, Facilities and Technology Committee meeting, Legislator Morris Sorbello said the new hangar will “be highly utilized,” especially by the numerous businesses that fly personnel in and out of the Oswego County Airport. He said it would cost $2.2 million to build a new, heated 12,000 square foot hangar, so getting one for just over $850,000 was a deal.
While some legislators mentioned $1,000 a month (per aircraft) as rentals from the new hangar, Airport Manager Brandon Schwerdt said “we have not set a fee structure yet, but we anticipate overnight stays by more larger aircraft that we never had the facilities to accommodate before this. There will be fees for the overnights and having the capability to accommodate these larger aircraft in an indoor heated hangar will increase our fuel sales as well due to the increased activity.”
In addition, he said the school district, county and town of Volney are not really losing tax revenue that they had received before — they have not received taxes from this Gypsum hangar because it is brand new. In fact, Schwerdt said the certificate of occupancy for the hangar was received just two weeks ago.
At the legislature meeting, Sorbello, R-Granby, a pilot himself who has been involved in aviation for decades, said he recently was talking to a director of aviation at Exelon — the owner of three nuclear plants in Oswego County — who fly a lot of personnel in and out of Oswego County for training and meetings.
“If you don’t have services (at the airport), you’re not going to have businesses and industry coming in here,” Sorbello said, stating the Exelon official “raved about the services, raved about the airport and was excited about the new building.”
Also at the Sept. 12 meeting, legislators:
n Approved offering support for the changing of the job classification for its E-911 dispatchers from “Office and Administrative Support Occupations” to “Public Safety Communicators.” Originally when the E-911 dispatcher job was created, it was considered the same as taxcab dispatchers and lumped in with a job classification that includes office and clerical personnel. Now the 911 SAVES Act, House of Representatives bill 1629, wants to change the job classification.
So far, the only counties to have approved resolutions in support of the 911 SAVES Act are Allegany, Oneida, Livingston, Genesee, Steuben, Cayuga, Ontario, Wayne, Washington, Schuyler, Yates and Ulster.
n Approved extending a consulting contract with Access Systems of Manlius to work with the architect and county departments to transform and modernize the county’s records management operation and improve efficiencies. The county currently is expanding its records center on State Route 481 across from the Public Safety Center and wants to ensure its records system is up to date. The contract will run through August 2020 and could be renewed for five more years.
n Approved an auction of properties acquired by tax foreclosures. The auction will be Oct. 5.
n Created a public health technician position in the health department’s Environmental Health Division to help the department make some of its practices more efficient. Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said a recent internal evaluation of the department found that some of the duties of the environmental health division’s engineer should be done by others and that the engineer has been overworked. He said this new position will alleviate the overwork issue and ensure the department if following all state rules. Adding the position will not cost any money this year.
n Spending $34,723 for mosquito spraying this year.
n Approved an additional $9,000 for the additional hours line in the E-911 department budget. The money will be used for night differential pay for personnel who work night shifts. E-911 Director Kevin Pooley said there is not enough in this budget line to make it through the end of the year.
n Approved acceptance of $93,250 in state money to Oswego County Opportunities. The money is used for operating expenses associated with the county’s rural public transportation service.
n Approved an increase in the petty cash fund total for the Health Department from $500 to $1,000.