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Updated landing, ramp fees at Sawyer approved

By CECILIA BROWN

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved updated landing and ramp fees presented by the the Sawyer International Airport Advisory Committee at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

The updated landing and ramp fees stem from an Airport Advisory Committee finding that Sawyer’s fees were lower than fees assessed by other airports in the region that offer the same services.

“These (landing and ramp) fees were assessed with surrounding airports within the region and we found that our rates are less than the other airports,” Duane DuRay, airport manager at Sawyer International Airport, said. “And that we, through the Airport Advisory Committee, deem that these rates could be adjusted and raised to generate more revenue.”

The revenue generated through the fees would be split 60/40 between the airport and the airport’s independent fixed-base operator, Boreal Aviation, which provides services such as maintenance and courtesy vehicles.

DuRay explained that the fee increase is one part of a strategic plan to increase revenue at the airport, with the goal of making it self-sufficient.

“We’re going through strategic planning, looking at efficiencies and any other possible revenue generation that we can help offset the local costs of the airport to make it closer to self-sustaining,” he said.

Commissioners noted their support for efforts to make the airport self-sustaining.

“I’m glad you’re looking toward trying to make this a self-sustaining operation because we’ve using the airport stabilization fund for many years now and I know it’s headed down,” Commissioner Bill Nordeen said.

Even with the new rates, Sawyer’s fees are still lower than many of the airports that Sawyer was compared with, DuRay said, noting that the most significant increases are for aircraft over 12,500 pounds.

“There are a handful of (fee) changes, not very many. As for the local aircraft operators, none of these fees will be assessed to them. The fees that are on here are more slated for transient aircraft and the real change comes after you exceed 12,500 pounds,” DuRay said.

Part of the reason for the more substantial fee increase for heavier aircraft is the wear and tear they cause on the runway, DuRay said.

“Aircraft landing and going is just like other any commercial road or commercial pavement, the more wear and tear on the surfaces require more maintenance and upkeep. The heavier weighted aircraft do cause more wear and tear,” DuRay said.

The board also approved an annual review of landing and ramp fees each April by the Airport Advisory Committee.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve replacement of phone systems for K.I. Sawyer and the health department.

According to documents provided to the board, both phone systems are considered obsolete and are currently due for replacement within the technology fund.

The existing systems will be replaced with the Avaya IP phone system, which will bring the entire phone system for the county into a single, integrated system.

The Avaya IP phone system will make centralized phone management from the main county switchboard possible, which will allow for reduced downtime, centralized failover for service redundancy and rapid dialing between locations, according to documents provided to the board.

Several bids were received for the project, which will be funded through the technology fund. The board approved proceeding with Superior Eagle as the vendor for the project for a total of $46,730.

The board also approved an additional $6,000 to support the cost of extended wiring and networking equipment for the project, which will be done by in-house staff and other contractors.

Several vacancies on various boards and commissions of the Marquette County Board of Commissioners were also discussed at the meeting.

There is one vacancy on the Central Dispatch Policy Board for a Negaunee city resident, one vacancy on the Marquette County Solid Waste Authority for a city resident of Ishpeming or Negaunee and one vacancy on the Pathways Community Mental Health Board.

The deadline for applications is June 1. Appointments will be made by the county board at its regular meeting on June 5.

Application forms are available in the county clerk’s office, located at 234 W. Baraga Ave. in Marquette, or online at www.co.marquette.mi.us/departments/county_clerk/application_for_boards_commissions.php#.WuyoKoVhtxE.

For more information, call 225-8330, or visit www.co.marquette.mi.us/departments/county_clerk/board_commission_vacancies.php#.WuyoHoVhtxE for a full description of boards and vacancies.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.