Saturday, July 4, 2009

Whither goest "Brunswick International Airport?"

In "All Quiet in Lake Basebegone" I touched briefly upon the question of operating the airfield on BNAS once the Navy is gone. If it is to be operated at all.

There are 3 questions that immediately come to mind on this subject:
  1. Who will take on that responsibility?
  2. What will be the costs involved?
  3. Will those who use the airfield be prepared to pay that cost on a per use basis?
Until someone steps up and provides an alternative explanation, I presume the answer to Question 1 is that the taxpayers will. And given that MRRA is not a permanent creation, and the state is in extremis fiscally, I presume that the Town of Brunswick will eventually be strapped with operating the airfield.

As to Question 2, operating the airfield will be a major expense on top of a very large expense for the town to provide normal Public Works and Public Safety coverage for the former base property, along with a long list of other costs. All those streets, all those buildings, all those grassy and landscaped areas will need to be kept maintained and secure. Millions of dollars per year are clearly involved. And with very little possibility for offsetting revenue.

Now for Question 3. I have no idea how much operating the airfield will cost, but let's assume it runs $1 million a year for the sake of discussion, or about $20,000 per week, not including any capital expenditures that may be required from time to time. If someone has a better figure, they can let us know what it is.

Oxford Aviation has signed a "letter of intent," contents held private by the king of confidentiality, to set up business on the base. At the moment, they are the only known enterprise that will require airfield services, so it is fair to suggest that until someone else appears to share the costs, Oxford should bear them completely.

They want to service "larger" aircraft at their "Brunswick Jet Division." If they were to, say, bring in one jetliner per week, the airfield cost would be $20,000. If they were to bring in two aircraft per week, the amortized cost per plane would be $10,000.

One has to wonder whether Oxford is prepared to add those amounts to their bids, plussed up by the usual loaders. And whether they think they can be competitive while having to pay for airfield operations.

Anyone who suggests that Oxford shouldn't have to pay those costs is saying that the taxpayers have an obligation to pay them, and that would be "corporate welfare" of a permanent nature.

I'm just a small town guy with an insatiable thirst for knowledge that leads me to ask questions that seem pretty obvious. I'd sure as heck like to find a small town guy or gal, preferably in Brunswick, that has an insatiable desire to provide answers.

Let us know if you run across one, and don't let him or her get away!

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