Airport concessions agreement renewed

Gerald Corkin

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to continue the concession vendor agreement with Northern Michigan University at the airport terminal snack bar in Sawyer International Airport.

As part of this agreement, the board will continue to support the operation of the concession stand by contributing funds for its operation, as NMU operates the concessions at a loss and asked for continued consideration of financial support from the board to help keep the stand open.

“The county felt that given the difficulty in finding a vendor for this service and the importance of providing airport users a needed service, it was more important to enter into an agreement that provided for the best opportunity for the vendor to be successful,” documents provided to the board state.

Prior to NMU taking over the concessions in November 2013, the airport had been without a concessionaire for three years.

“Northern Michigan University has been running the concession stand, the snack bar at the terminal since 2013,” said Steve Schenden, director of operations at Sawyer International Airport. “Before that, we went through a few years, like three years where we couldn’t find anyone to run it.”

As NMU has been operating the concessions at a loss, the county has historically contributed funds to keep the operation open.

“After they ran it the first year, they were in a deficit of about $20,000 and the next year, the county pitched in half of that, $10,000. We’ve done that for the last couple years. Last year, they lost $17,000, so basically, the county pitched in 10 (thousand), so they lost seven (thousand),” Schenden said.“They’re asking us to pitch in 10 again to keep it open. Considering the problems we had before trying to find anybody to do it, we think it’s a good deal.”

Airport officials noted they have been have been pleased with the quality of the stand’s operations under NMU and board members said that they feel it is an important service to provide at the airport.

Chairman Gerald Corkin said: “It’s an important service to have out there, and even though its costing us a little bit, it’s far less than subsidizing the old restaurant at the old airport and it seems to be done professionally, right?”

Schenden agreed, and said he felt the operation was run professionally and had a wide selection of sandwiches, baked goods, merchandise and souvenirs for travelers.

The agreement, which was approved by the board, will begin May 1 and end April 30, 2019, as the current agreement is set to expire on April 30 this year.

Renewal language for several county millages that will be on the 2018 ballot was also unanimously approved at the Tuesday meeting of the Marquette County Board of Commissioners.

The millage proposals were for services to senior citizens central dispatch/enhanced 911 emergency telephone system as well as county search and rescue and technical rescue unit programs. All millages were approved by voters in 2012.

The milage for senior services would be 0.4474 mills over a period from 2018 – 2023. If the renewal is approved by voters, it would raise approximately $1,011,297 in the first year.

The millage for search and rescue and technical rescue unit programs would be 0.1525 mills over the same period, and is anticipated to raise approximately $344,709 in the first year, if approved by voters.

The millage for central dispatch/enhanced 911 emergency telephone system would be 0.4970 mills. If approved by voters, it would raise approximately $1,123,412 in the first year.

The board also approved a bid proposal from Otis Elevator for a power unit replacement in the elevator in the Henry A. Skewis Annex.

After a December inspection by the State Elevator Division, it was determined that a power unit replacement would be beneficial for the elevator, as cab had excess movement and the existing elevator components are original to the annex building, which was built in the late 1970s.

Two bids had been received for the project, one from Otis Elevator and one from ThyssenKrupp, but the proposals included a four-day downtime for the elevator.

However, this four-day period would adversely affect the operations of court services and other county departments.

Due to this, the project bidders were asked to evaluate the cost to perform the project with one day of business downtime, which would lead to overtime work hours.

The revised bid from Otis Elevator was around $23,000, as opposed to their original bid of approximately 19,000. ThyssenKrupp’s overtime rates increased their bid to around $52,000, from approximately $22,000.

The board followed staff recommendation to award the contract to Otis Elevator, with the work tentatively scheduled for May.

The board also accepted an application from Derek Bush and appointed Bush to the Economic Development Corporation of Marquette County during the meeting.