County eyes leases with airport tenants

JOHNSTOWN – The aircraft repair and restoration company planning to build another hangar at the Fulton County Airport may be given five more years to occupy the space before it becomes property of the county.

The Building & Grounds Committee of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors last week approved amending a lease signed in 2010 that will allow R&R Aviation to extend the lease on the property from 30 years to 35.

R&R already owns one hangar on county-owned property at the airport, which it built in 2003 under a 30-year lease agreement. The second lease agreement would have given the company the right to build a second hangar, which would become the county’s property when the agreement expires at the end of 2040.

But plans for the second hangar stalled in 2011, after the lease was signed, when R&R Aviation and owner Ron Rios were informed the town of Johnstown would assess the building for taxes. The company fought the assessment in state Supreme Court and had the amount reduced from $279,000 to $115,000, according to a stipulation of discontinuance signed Dec. 20 by state Supreme Court Justice Richard T. Aulisi.

“R&R asked for a change in the lease because costs are going to be dramatically more than they are now,” county Administrator Jon Stead said. “It’s probably almost twice as expensive for him per month now compared to what it was.”

Committee members unanimously approved the new agreement terms, which would include a clause that the agreement would revert to 30 years if the tax assessment is removed.

The lease changes still must be approved by the Finance Committee, which tabled the measure on Thursday when Mayfield supervisor Rick Argotsinger, who chairs the Buildings & Grounds Committee, caught some officials by surprise when he said the 35-year lease would be effective now, not retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011.

“I didn’t know that,” Stead responded. “Maybe we’re not ready yet.”

“We’re not ready yet,” echoed Gloversville 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael F. Gendron.

The Finance Committee also tabled a measure that would extend a lease agreement with The 195 Factory, the company that operates the airport for the county, while county Senior Planner Jim Mraz continues discussion with the company.

The company’s existing lease expires May 11. An extension would include a provision that would allow the company to stop selling jet fuel, according to a measure approved by the Buildings & Grounds Committee.

The 195 Factory, Mraz said, “is asking if it could suspend sales of jet fuel due to the minimal sales that [occur] and the cost to operate and maintain the system.” He said the company and the county would review the decision annually.

The company would continue selling Avgas, which is used by most small aircraft frequenting the airport, Mraz said.