The question was raised, “Few would question that having an airport benefits the local economy, but at what cost to taxpayers?”
As most people know airports are economic engines. The U.S. Department of Commerce says that every $1 spent at your local airports adds another $2.53 to your local economy. The Rhinelander/Oneida County Airport receives $1 million a year in grants which are funded through user fees. That alone can boost the economy in the area by $2,530,000.
I would like to use Printpack Inc. as an example. They are frequent users of the airport, both in commercial and general aviation flying. It has been noted that they remained in our area because of the workforce and the airport. In 2017 they paid $245,731 in taxes to the city of Rhinelander. The city of Rhinelander contributes $220,000 toward the airport budget. My point is this: Printpack Inc. more than covers the city portion of subsidy to the airport. Further, in 2017 the city received an additional $424,220 in taxes from the air industrial park which a good portion of land was made available for industrial growth when the airport closed it east west runway.
Parks and a municipal golf course add quality of life to our area, but be assured, they do not bring in new companies or keep the established ones here and there is your payback to the taxpayers in jobs created and maintained because you have an airport.
Joe Brauer, Rhinelander/Oneida County Airport Director