Airport rates will see a 50 percent max increase starting July 1

Published 12:07 am Thursday, May 18, 2023

SALISBURY — Rental rates and fees at the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport will be increasing starting July 1 after the Rowan County Board of Commissioners heard from airport director Valerie Steele and voted unanimously for the change at Monday night’s meeting.

Steele was back in front of the commissioners for the second meeting in a row; she attended the May 1 meeting with consultants from Aviation Management Consulting Group who worked with Steele for 16 months on an airport assessment study. The commissioners decided to table voting during that meeting because they wanted time to go over the entirety of the assessment.

Steele got right to the point with the commissioners. The airport rent study that was conducted by the consulting group found the airport’s rates are well below what they should be. She asked the commissioners to approve a 50 percent-maximum increase on rates for the first year and a 25 percent increase in 2024 and 2025.

“The main item to look at is the airport rent study. AMCG has found that in some instances we are 143 percent lower than what we technically should be. One of the things that we agreed to as recipients of FAA money and as the airport sponsor is that we will act in a manner that will make the airport as financially independent as possible,” Steele said. “That is something we agreed to in grants and when we’re not charging rates and fees that we should be, we are not meeting that expectation.”

The airport has not seen a rate increase in the five years that Steele has been working there and she was unsure if there had been any in the past 10 years or longer. The airport has improved and grown and rate increases are needed to financially support these changes, Steele said.

“Our maintenance costs have gone up, our operational costs have gone up and we’re not the same airport, we’re not the same Rowan County that we were,” Steele said. “There’s a very high demand for our airport and our demand supports this rate increase as well.”

Commissioner Greg Edds said he was happy to see a complete rental study done and mentioned an example for folks that illustrated how low rental rates are currently at the airport.

“If you just look at hangar one, the current rent is $174. The needed increase is 142 percent to bring us up to market,” Edds said.

With the 50 percent max increase, hangar one could potentially see rates increase from $174 to $261 starting July 1.