Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rep. Boose: Farm rent should be turned over to Norwalk-Huron County Airport (5A1)

For the past two years, farm rent produced at the Huron County Airport has been a source of controversy.

The county/airport rents land to a local farmer, who, in turn, pays rent.

The Reflector requested the amount of farm rent paid to the county on airport property from 2013 to 2015.

Huron County Auditor Roland Tkach, upon that request, reported about $35,000 has been paid to the county for farm rent at the airport.

Tkach also said he saw no records of the commissioners then forwarding that money back to the airport.

Harry Brady, airport board president, said Wednesday he hopes in 2016 the airport coffers will receive the farm rent, considering it is produced on airport ground.

Huron County Commissioner Tom Dunlap said this week the subject of farm rent will be discussed by the board in the new year.

Brady said the airport could use the $35,000.

“Most of that would go toward the grant match for next year,” he said. “We need to replace the tarmac in front of the commercial building and might have to add another access or taxiway to the runway.

“That will cost a significant amount of money and the grant pre-application didn’t have that on there because we didn’t have the local match,” Brady said. “We want to do some major rehab here over the next five to 10 years.”

Brady said there is a legal opinion from the prosecutor that states the farm rent should be allocated to the airport.

”But, I’ve been told that isn’t enforceable,“ he said.

What about going to a judge?

Brady said he hasn’t considered going to court for the farm rent because the airport board is trying to develop a positive relationship with the commissioners.

State Rep. Terry Boose (R-Norwalk), who served as a Huron County commissioner from 1997 to 2004 and is running for commissioner in 2016, said this week the current commissioners should turn over the farm rent to the airport.

“If I’m a county commissioner and I’m asking the airport to be self-sufficient, it’s not fair for the county to take the money from the farm rent,” Boose said.

“That’s like having the airport sell the fuel and then taking the money from the fuel sales, but expecting the airport to pay the fuel bills,“ he added. “The airport should be given the farm rent and then be expected to pay the taxes on the land.”

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