From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 28 - July 12, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Turbulence hits Town Council

by Jennie Oemig

At the July 9 Pinedale Town Council meeting, the airport, and more specifically the fixed base operator (FBO) contract, was again the hot topic of discussion. During the previous meeting, member Nylla Kunard questioned the proposal made by Jim Parker, manager of the Pinedale Airport, to have the council grant the airport funds to keep the airport in business. Parker had asked the board to give the airport $100,000 in order to purchase a new fuel tank to accommodate more aircraft.

Kunard was once again on the defensive when the lease was brought up at the meeting. “Being on a board is a thankless job,” she said. “But I have some questions … I think the airport is taking too much town money.”

Kunard expressed her opinions about the costs of running the airport and the fact that renting the hangars has not brought in any income to the town.

“We all know how drastically rent has gone up, yet the airport rentals have not gone up,” she said, adding that the last increase in rental costs was over 10 years ago in 1996. With that in mind, Kunard suggested the costs needed to be altered in order to keep up with the changing times.

“You’ve got to gradually start increasing those fees,” Kunard said. “ … The townspeople shouldn’t have to subsidize that much.” Currently, the airport has one maintenance person, Dave Goodwin, and Kunard asked that everything from his proof of insurance, FAA certification and proof of licensing be included in the contract.

The cost of the fees charged when airplanes land was also discussed and compared with other airports in Wyoming. “The fees they’re charging at Pinedale are as high as you can get,” Airport Board Chair Jim McLellan said. “I don’t think there’s another airport in the state that’s higher … maybe in Jackson.”

The airport charges $40 for jets and $25 for turban airplanes to land, which McLellan said is a policy that has only been in place for a couple weeks. He said once that method catches on, it could be very good for the airport and for Pinedale.

“That’s a pretty sizable chunk of money we’re going to get,” he said, adding that as of now, he is unsure of how much revenue it will bring in since it is such a new process. Kunard then began questioning why the airport hangar rental costs have not increased while the costs of housing and the taxes have gone up in the town.

“You can only compare airports to airports and apples to apples,” McLellan said, telling Kunard that the increase in other costs doesn’t have any bearing on the expenses of operating an airport.

The airport’s expenditures for the fuel tank were then revisited. After some quick figuring, Council Member Gary Heuck determined how long it would take to actually pay off the tank if it were to be approved. “It’s gonna take us, the town, six and a half years just to pay for the new fuel tank,” he said.

Once this figure was determined, Kunard again suggested rates be raised so the airport can begin to bring in money to help offset the costs of operation.

“We’re making this way too complicated,” McLellan said, telling Kunard that most of the things being discussed had nothing to do with the contract whatsoever. Kunard would not stand down, however, and asked that the rental fees of the hangars be raised.

“You’ve just reduced my pay by increasing rent,” Goodwin said about what the outcome would be if the rental fees were to go up. “ … This is my livelihood and we’re being strung out to the last few weeks [with the contract].”

There is now less than three weeks left to approve the FBO contract, Goodwin said. Council member Chris House then questioned Goodwin about his work and qualifications. “Why should we enter into this agreement?” he asked. “What can you bring to the table?”

Goodwin responded by telling the council he has 25 years of experience and almost no complaints in 10 years of business in Pinedale. “I’ve outlasted every other FBO in this town,” he said. McLellan then came to Goodwin’s defense and reminded the council of the airport’s previous FBO.

“It ended up costing us $23,000 in legal fees to get him out of here,” he said, adding that the town is lucky to have such a qualified and dedicated maintenance person. “[Goodwin] is the best we’ve had and probably the best we’ll ever have.”

After voting on the FBO contract, the council was tied. Mayor Steve Smith then voted in favor of the contract to break the tie.

• The council approved a restaurant liquor license for Wind River Pizzeria. The restaurant will now serve wine, beer, margaritas and piña coladas, owner Maggie Palmer said.

• During the citizen’s concerns segment of the meeting, Pinedale resident David Stephens spoke of his worries regarding the traffic situation at the intersection of Hennick Street and Maybell Avenue.

With the high school less than a block away from the intersection, Stephens said the school traffic has been increasing as of late and will most likely continue to worsen. “With the pool opening, it’s going to increase year-round,” he said.

Stephens suggested the town put in a fourway stop to alleviate some of the speeding that has been occurring.

“You guys opened up a can of worms on this one,” Heuck said, referring to the council’s previous approval of stop signs being placed at five Pinedale intersections at the May 29 meeting. “I’m not going to vote on it.” Heuck abstained from voting on the issue, but it passed by a 3-1 vote.

• Jim Washam was at the meeting to propose a Sublette County veteran’s memorial be placed in American Legion Park. Though he is unsure of where exactly the proposed $197,000 memorial will be erected, Washam said he had already received approval for it to go in that park.

• The council approved the Sublette County Library’s request to have the water and sewer hookup fees – a total of about $29,000 – waived for the new addition.

• Several ordinances were passed at Monday’s meeting including ordinance 415 – building and development standards for condominium developments on third reading; ordinance 416 – entrances for townhouses and apartments front on a town street on third reading; ordinance 417 – relating to unclaimed, infected or dangerous cats within the Town of Pinedale on second reading; ordinance 418 – relating to the control of alcohol and underage persons on the first reading; ordinance 419 – relating to the salary of council on second reading; ordinance 420 – relating to the terms of office for mayor on second reading; ordinance 421 – relating to the salary of mayor on second reading.

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