Fayette County Airport authority might change rental fees

Rent and lease agreements for hangars at the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport might be changing as soon as next month.

Members of the Fayette County Airport Authority are looking into charging rent according to square footage, rather than just assessing a random rent fee to customers.

The decision came after Jerry Means, who rents a hangar there, requested his rent be lowered. He said he was paying more rent than he thought was fair for the amount of square footage of the hangar.

Board member Terry Shallenberger said that Rostraver Airport charges $2.25 a square foot for hangar rentals. The hangar Means occupies, if based on the amount of square footage, would be a monthly cost of $281. Means pays $300 a month.

"We need to re-evaluate what we got here," said board Chairman Jesse Wallace. "We don't want to charge anyone an unfair fee. We want to be competitive."

The board will decide on a square footage, monetary number relevant to the area and will assign that rental fee to all leases for all tenants.

The other issue was whether or not tenants of Building #19 should be required to pay sales tax in addition to the monthly rental fee instead of including the tax in the fee.

Last month, authority board member Myrna Giannopoulos, who also rents hangar space at the airport, brought up the issue of being charged sales tax on top of her monthly $200 rental fee. Previously, she was not charged sales tax. She requested the rent be reduced to $188.68 with an $11.32 sales tax, so that the total monthly payment would still be a flat $200.

At that time, Wallace was unable to attend the meeting, and board members Shallenberger and Todd Radolec wanted to wait until this month's meeting to discuss the fees.

Solicitor Mark Rowan said that before the TOL Aviation building (Building #19) was taken over by the authority, the Richard Nensel family, who owned it, never charged sales tax. The airport authority, however, was directed to do so by the state Department of Revenue. It was because of that direction that the sales tax was imposed, he said.

Wallace said Tuesday that for this upcoming month, the authority will charge the monthly rental fee that was charged in the past and take the sales tax out of that fee. However, things could change after board members take action next month to restructure the rental fees.