Airport hangar renters pay higher cost without complaint, officials said


Oct. 16--A 5-percent increase in hangar rental rates at both Beaufort County airports has sparked little outcry from tenants, officials said Thursday.

Those renting hangars at the Hilton Head Island Airport and Beaufort County Airport on Lady's Island were sent letters in August to inform them of the increased rates and asked to return new, signed leases by Sept. 15.

The new leases went into effect Oct. 1, said airports director Paul Andres. Twenty-five percent of Hilton Head renters have yet to send back signed leases, while about half the leases at the Beaufort County Airport are outstanding.

No one has indicated plans to cancel their lease, and there is still a waiting list for hangar space at both airports, Andres said.

"They're paying the higher rents," he said. "Like anything else, they are a little tardy on returning the leases."

Beaufort County Council approved the rental rate hike in August at the recommendation of the county Airports Board and staff. Rates are comparable to those at nearby, similarly sized airports in Charleston and Savannah.

The goal was to decrease the airports' dependence on subsidies from the county general fund. To that end, council also agreed in August to collect property taxes on the hangars themselves, in addition to taxes already levied on aircraft.

Still lingering is a decision on where hangar property tax money should go -- directly back to the airports fund, or into the general fund as do other tax revenues. County Council and staff are reviewing the issue.