Five Butler County communities are being asked to make an initial five-year commitment to help pay for identified maintenance projects at the Butler County Regional Airport Hogan Field.
Owned by the county since 1999, the airport has been in existence since 1928 with property in both Fairfield and Hamilton.
Those cities plus West Chester, Liberty and Fairfield townships are being asked to help pay for seven maintenance projects totaling $3.6 million, said David Fehr, Butler County’s director of development.
The five communities were selected, Fehr said, because of their proximity to the airport and they would be most likely to benefit economically. Of the project total, $3.2 million would be paid through Federal Aviation Administration grants, which require a 10 percent local match, leaving about $360,721 for the five communities to pay between 2015 and 2019. “There are issues that need to be addressed,’’ Fehr said. “We’d like to get a group together to talk about this”
Participating communities would be asked to give input on how money is spent through an Airport Capital Improvement Oversight Committee with each governing body having a seat.
The targeted improvement projects are largely maintenance related and include items such as lighting upgrades, ramp reconstruction, and pavement work due to potholes, loose gravel and other issues.
Fehr said the airport also has long-term outstanding debt, but the county is not asking communities to contribute dollars for that.
A study by the Ohio Department of Transportation in conjunction with the
FAA showed the airport’s economic impact on the county has steadily increased in each of three studies, Fehr said. The impact was estimated at $8.2 million in 1995; $14.1 million in 2005; and $40.6 million in the 2014 study, released earlier this year.
Nine companies – including A.K. Steel, Bohlke Veneer and J.T.M. – have corporate hangars at the airport and several other corporations fly into and out of the airport.
Last year there were 61,687 planes that either landed at or took off from the airport, averaging about 169 per day, Fehr explained. Making the airport attractive to corporate users, he added, is its all-weather instrument landing system.
Only the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Lunken, and the Butler County airport have that.
“This feature put this airport at a higher level of service” Fehr said. Adding to the airport’s appeal is FAA certified Roberts Aviation, three rental car companies on site, a National Weather Service automated surface observation system, and an around-the-clock full-service operation run by Cincinnati Jet Center.
Fairfield Councilman Chad Oberson and Mayor Steve Miller asked if the duties of the proposed committee could be expanded beyond maintenance issues to include operating and other decisions.
“(Doing so) would be opening (the airport) up for transparency and accountability,” Miller said.
For 15 years Fairfield – in conjunction with the county and Hamilton – owned the airport through the Butler County Airport Authority. “This is a long-term commitment. We need to know our interests are protected,” Oberson said.
Fehr said an open house for elected officials and local chambers of commerce only would be held Nov. 12 to allow officials to tour the airport and ask questions of airport administrator Ron Davis.
West Chester Township trustees said they would wait until after the tour to discuss whether they would commit any money to the project, scheduling a discussion at their Nov. 18 meeting.
Fehr said he would like all five communities to decide whether to participate by year’s end. He also asked elected officials to talk with companies in their communities about the airport, its services and what improvements were needed.
Who uses Hogan Field
Businesses with hangars at the airport:
• AK Steel
• Brands Insurance
• Bohlke Veneer
• Clippard Instruments
• J.T.M. Food Group
• Great American Jet Inc.
• M.B. Auctioneers
• S.D. Aero
Other businesses that fly into and out of the airport include Procter & Gamble, Kroger,Walmart, General Electric, Duke Energy, Meijer, Koch Foods, BAE Systems, Target and Bass Pro Shops.