The Council has released a draft lease agreement for users of the Benalla Airport as part of the Benalla Airport Master Plan, and is seeking community and user feedback.
Under the Master Plan, the airport is currently undergoing a $1.64 million redevelopment, with $715,253 from the Federal Government through the National Stronger Regions Fund, $500,000 from the State Government through the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, $421,550 from the Council and $8,000 from Airport user contributions. The redevelopment will improve the site for all users and increase its potential for expanded commercial use.
Currently there are 24 lessees of hangar space at the Benalla Airport. One third of the current lessees pay $151.64, or $2.92 per week, and 79% of the lessees pay less than $465 a year, or $9 a week. The total income from the site in 2014-15 was $9180.
While consultation on the draft agreements is under way, the Council is seeking further information to benchmark costs at other comparable facilities.
“Notwithstanding the strong shared volunteer maintenance arrangements at the site, the airport still costs the Council and ratepayers more than $35,000 per annum to manage at a basic level, excluding staff costs to support the users of the site,” said CEO Tony McIlroy.
“Lease arrangements must be reviewed to ensure that we are operating with a business model that supports the future growth of the site, for the benefit of all users,” Mr McIlroy said.
“There has been limited capital investment in the site over an extended period and while this may not disadvantage current users it does not support growth or broadening the use of the airport and ensuring future generations of recreational flying can continue in the town. It also doesn't allow us to strengthen and diversify our tourism and employment at the site,” he said.
“We have received a number of submissions about the draft agreement and this and other feedback will be considered as we further develop the model, which will be brought to the Planning and Development Committee on Wednesday 20 April 2016.”
There will be further opportunity for community consultation in June and July.