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Airport board adopts $470K budget
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The MidCoast Regional Airport local joint management board Thursday adopted a $470,000 operations budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which began Sunday.

Revenue for the airport includes $364,000 in pilot fees, hanger rentals and fuel sales, and a $105,911 supplement from local governments.

Liberty County, Hinesville and the Liberty County Development Authority each will contribute $35,304 from their budgets to provide the supplement.

Chairman Jim Thomas and voting members John McIver and Allen Brown also took action on a months-long cost-benefit analysis of retaining a third-party fixed-base operator to manage the airport.

The board initiated the study in August when the airport’s $50,000 contract with ABS Aviation was set to expire. The board engaged the company for another six months and has retained them month-to-month since.

Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards presented the group’s analysis to the board Thursday, though he cautioned that the study was quantitative.

Assuming in-house management would cost at least $489,000 while the costs associated with an FBO ran around $467,000.
Brown said the airport is getting a “good deal” based on the cost difference between the two.

Thomas added that the arrival of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will complicate traffic and management at the airport, and it would be better to stick with an experienced FBO than to take on the endeavor.

“I think this exercise was worthwhile, and we did find out that our value is decent,” Brown said. “And I think that we have the footprint to check it every year if we want to, reevaluate every year.”

With one motion, the board unanimously voted to maintain operations under a third-party fixed-based operator.

As for whether to continue the relationship with ABS, the board voted to approve a contract through June 30, 2013, with the understanding that they will solicit requests for FBO proposals next spring.

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