Jan. 13--Beaufort County will raise hangar rents at the Hilton Head Island Airport in March, after a delay of several months because of miscommunication, according to county administrator Gary Kubic.
Rates will increase by 5 percent, which means most renters will be charged about $20 more each month to store their planes, Kubic said.
The county's Airports Board recommended the increases last summer, but they weren't implemented because of miscommunication between County Council and staff, Kubic said.
Although Kubic has the authority to increase the rates without County Council approval, he said he wanted the council's opinion on whether the amount of the increase was appropriate. On Jan. 6, Kubic and airports director Jon Rembold posed the increase to the council's Finance Committee, which approved it.
"It was something we probably should have addressed sooner," Kubic said.
County Councilman Rick Caporale of Hilton Head Island pushed several times to get the issue before the Finance Committee in November and December, but it was delayed more than once when the committee ran out of time, Caporale said.
"It's just the idea of it -- what were people waiting for?" Caporale said. "We worked so hard to get a good Airports Board, but we tend to ignore them from time to time, and this is a prime example of that."
Airports Board director Pete Buchanan agreed. He said the board was persistent about prodding the county to action, bringing up the issue at several Airports Board meetings in the fall.
"If you're on the board and you have to answer some of the questions we get from people, obviously (a delay) is frustrating," he said.
Kubic apologized for the delay: "I wouldn't blame council; I'd blame this on me and the administration."
The airport has 22 basic T-shaped hangars, which currently lease for $400 per month, according to county data. It also has three box hangars, which currently cost $1,185 per month, and one large bulk hangar, for $2,431 per month.
Those fees currently raise about $177,000 a year, about $26,000 of which goes to hangar contractor Signature Flight Support, according to the data. The rate increases are expected to bring in an additional $2,400 in revenue each year.
The county is worried higher fees might drive some renters away, Kubic said. But even with the increase, the Hilton Head Island Airport fees are still competitive with similar $400 monthly costs at the Savannah airport, and it's much closer to home for Hilton Head pilots, he said.
In June, the council's Finance Committee approved hangar lease-rate increases at the Lady's Island Airport, following a recommendation by Joel Phillips, the airport's supervisor, Rembold said. That airport has 34 hangars.
The increase included a 5 percent hike and including each hangar's property taxes in monthly payments, according to county documents. The tax change will save the county more than $7,200, and the increase will add $5,400 in revenue annually, according to the documents.
Lease rates have not risen since 2011 at the Hilton Head Airport. The increase will help the county maintain the hangars and pay down debt for airport improvements, Rembold told County Council members Jan. 6. All of the hangars at each airport are being leased, he added.
The county is required to send renters a 30-day notice of the increases, which will be mailed Feb. 1 for the Hilton Head Airport, Kubic said.
Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.
Copyright 2014 - The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)
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