The Wyoming Valley Airport operator passed its Luzerne County audit review with flying colors, according to a report issued last week.
County Controller Michelle Bednar and her staff decided to examine financial records associated with fixed base operator Valley Aviation Inc. to verify whether the county received the proper rent payment and fuel fee from 2014 through 2017.
The company’s lease of the 110-acre, county-owned facility in Forty Fort and Wyoming took effect in 2006.
Under its contract, Valley Aviation must pay the county $12,000 in rent annually and a fee based on the quantity of fuel pumped at the airport.
After reviewing company financial reports and other records, the controller’s office concluded both the rent and fuel fees were paid in the correct amounts, the audit said.
The fuel fee is currently 10 cents per gallon, it said.
Valley Aviation bases its payment on twice-a-year meter readings of the general aviation gas and jet fuel pumped at the airport, the audit said.
The county typically receives around $7,000 per year from the fuel fee, Bednar said.
Her audit suggested an improvement that was not required in the contract — assigning a county representative to participate in the meter reading along with Valley Aviation.
“The current process lacks proper checks and balances,” the audit said. “A representative from both the airport and the county should perform this meter reading together to assure the meter readings are accurate.”
County Manager C. David Pedri sent Bednar a letter the end of June accepting her offer to assign a controller’s office employee to attend the meter reading, the audit said.
The audit includes a letter from Valley Aviation President James Scrobola saying the company would welcome county involvement in the reading.
Scrobola’s letter also said he was pleased no material discrepancies were found.
“Valley Aviation is proud to be a partner of Luzerne County, and by working together we can enhance the tremendous asset of the airport that the county has to offer to the community,” he wrote.
In addition to Bednar, Deputy Controller Mark F. Majikes and internal auditor Susan Yozwiak worked on the audit, which is posted on the controller’s page at www.luzernecounty.org.
While not part of the audit scope, the document noted the Forty Fort Airport Advisory Board has not met since 2012.
“A well-constructed, engaged, and informed advisory board could be a tremendous benefit to Valley Aviation, especially with regard to locating and acquiring potential grant funding for airport improvements,” it said.
Scrobola’s letter agreed, saying an active advisory board would “be a tremendous benefit” to both Valley Aviation and the county.
Seven seats are vacant on the 12-member board due to a lack of interest, but the situation may be improving.
John Baum, Ronald Gitkos and Patrick Pribula have publicly interviewed for seats and are expected to be appointed at Tuesday’s council meeting, according to the board eligibility list and council agenda.
A master plan is underway to formulate recommendations on hangar and parking expansion, options for the realignment of existing runways and the renovation and maintenance of terminal and hangar structures at the airport, which was established in 1929. County officials said they would seek Federal Aviation Administration funding to cover projects when the plan is completed.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.
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