By Pat Maurer
Clare City Commissioners heard a general report on airport operations during their regular meeting Monday evening.
Clare Municipal Airport Manager Dick Acker gave the presentation to the board. “It’s good to let the City know how things are going,” he said. Acker said “With the Federal and State Aviation funding over the past years, we have been able to make over $400,000 in improvements at the airport with only 2.5 or 5 percent local funding.”
“Many people think that funding is taxpayer dollars,” he said in an interview Tuesday, “That’s not accurate. Only the local match comes from taxpayer dollars. The Federal and State funds are a percentage from fuel and equipment sales and even from airline tickets. That money goes into a pool which is distributed to airports all over the country and states and can only be used for airport improvements.”
About $180,000 annually is granted to the Clare Airport. This year’s funds, and saved moneys from prior years will be used to build a new parallel taxiway this year at an estimated cost of $380,000. Of that amount the local cost will only be $19,000. “It is a safety issue,” Acker said. “It will change one lane of traffic to and from the runway to two lanes.
In an earlier project, Acker said, six single hangars and one large box hangars were constructed at the facility. That project cost about $400,000 and the local share was less than $8,000. “We have those hangars 100 percent full,” Acker said. They bring in around $1,200 per month in revenues and the local cost was paid back in less than a year.”
A cost versus income sheet for the years 2012-2013 show that the facility’s revenues paid all but $27,642 of the $241,207 budget. “What do you get for that $27,642.00?” the presentation asked. Acker listed businesses in the community that benefit from the airport and said “a previous survey indicated over $77,000 was spent in the community.”
The airport is used both for pleasure and for business, he reported with planes from the airport doing seeding, fertilizing and insect control in the area, and aerial photography as well. The airport is also used by five major hospitals for helicopter medevac services: St. Mary’s of Saginaw, St. Joseph Mercy of Ann Arbor, University of Michigan of Ann Arbor, Butterworth of Grand Rapids and Munson Medical Center of Traverse City.
The airport also serves Clare, Farwell, Gladwin and Alma with flight training for pilots and is a site for many other public events and uses.
Other business at the City meeting Monday included:
*the approval of low bidder Rite-Way Asphalt Paving, Inc. for paving in Pettit Park, part of an $81,800 project planned for the facility. The vote was 4-1 to approve the bid and the expenditure of the improvement project. Commissioner Tom Koch voted no, saying he would prefer that the funds be used to develop the City’s future soccer complex. City Manager Ken Hibl responded saying the city policy is to pave whenever possible. “That (paving) project has been on the “list” for at least seven years.” The whole project will include electrical service to the new pavilion and installation of light fixtures; water service for camp sites and a storm water collection system channeling water into the Tobacco River. The improvements will be funded from Parks and Recreation Millage that have been reserved for the project.
*approval to settle a claim from Pete’s Contraction for expenses incurred before the Pump Station #5 project was postponed due to the withdrawal of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s permit for the proposed site.
*approval to complete a grant application to the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development Grant to offset the costs to purchase two new police vehicles. The City’s share will be approximately $17,000.
*approval to participate in the Federal Excess Property Program which would provide equipment to the city free of charge due to the recent downsizing of the military.
*recognition for Cherry Grove Cemetery Board member Mike Sved, who has served on the board for eight years. Sved has resigned because he is relocating to another state.
*In his report to the board, Hibl outlined plans to apply for a Michigan Department of Transportation COPS grant which would provide $125,000 in funding for a new police officer position over the next three years.