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The Tomahawk Leader is a state and national prize-winning weekly newspaper serving the scenic Northwoods area in and around Tomahawk, WI.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:17 am 
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A letter in the June 1, 2010, Tomahawk Leader

Dear Editor,

OK, I couldn't keep quiet for even a month. At the risk of being branded non-forward thinking I almost have to weigh in on one of the biggest local government boondoggles that was recently announced in your paper. I'm shocked a publisher who consistently rails against an out of touch bureaucracy wouldn't take this issue on. I know our state legislators hunch their shoulders and shake their head and act like it’s not our money they are spending so we shouldn't be concerned.

It certainly is nice the state and federal government think we need a longer runway at the Tomahawk Airport so I and the other one person that needs it, can take off with our private jets with a full load of fuel. How much extra fuel would we have to buy to justify the $742,500 cost of the project? It's nice the commercial traveling public is willing to pay the taxes to increase the length of the Tomahawk Airport runway. While the public is paying the fees at commercial airports, I get to land and take off my plane without any user charges. I know we charge users for water and sewer and kids to use the ball fields, play hockey, figure skate, and participate in summer recreation. I'm told charging plane owners a user fee will close the airport? Seems pretty consistent to me! The average cost of operating a business jet is $2,153 per hour, wouldn't you think those owners could afford landing fees?

While I commend the FOTA group for paying the local share of the project I wonder about the long-term funding of maintaining the airport. The airport group has not felt the need to live within its maintenance budget the last few years, I can only wonder what will happen with 10% more runway to maintain? With state imposed property tax caps constraining local government and the requirement to maintain the airport for 20 more years, I can only wonder what other local government program will be cut or scaled back to fund the airport.

In the same paper was another announcement of over $300,000 being spent on a fuel system for the Merrill Airport. Same funding source, same issues. I'm wondering if it makes sense to lay off 3 or 4 city employees and then spend that kind of money on a fuel system that serves how many residents?

A few months ago the Central Wisconsin Airport board talked about building a new terminal in a different location, why? Because there is money available from the state and federal government. Maybe all these airport projects should be financed by the local governments that operate them, that may be a better indicator of needs, versus “what would be nice.”

In my opinion our legislators and governor need to take a good look at this state bureaucracy. It seems a little inconsistent for the state to say hold the line on property taxes while another set of state employees is telling local governments to do these projects which will result in increased long-term future costs.

Paul Garner
Tomahawk


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:45 pm 
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The original press release on this airport expansion stated that there are 19 aircraft based at Tomahawk Airport. That doesn't mean there are nineteen individuals that own those aircraft because some may own multiple airplanes. The City of Tomahawk has budgeted $25,150 for 2010 airport operations or $1323.68 per plane based at the Airport. Paul Garner mentioned the fact that there are no landing fees at the airport from what I understand the are no fees associated with the hangers or taxiways at the airport either. I also understand that there are one or more businesses operated at the airport. Do they pay fees or rent to operate there? If not,why not? Are any these 19 or fewer aircraft owners City of Tomahawk residents or are the Tomahawk property taxpayers footing the bill for their hobby? Garner mentioned over $300,000 fuel system expense at the Merrill Airport. I think a similar amount was spent at the Tomahawk airport within the last few years doing the same thing. Do the math, that's over $15,000 per plane for the Tomahawk Airport Gas Station and over $39,000 per plane for the runway extension. I've heard all the reasons for the expansion and most of that amounts to "Corporations that do business in Tomahawk want to land here." Why would they want to land here with a full service, jet ready airport 15 minute drive up Highway 8. How many real corporate aircraft landings and take offs are made at Tomahawk Airport annually?

Turn it into a drag strip, ticket sales may offset the some of the taxpayer expenses associated with it.


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