By Michael Howell
Some people leasing hangars at the Ravalli County Airport are behind in their lease payments and Deputy County Attorney Howard Recht told the Commissioners last week that something has to be done to collect the money.
According to Recht, Hamilton Aviation holds a few leases at the airport and has disputed the amount of money owed the county. That dispute, he said, was taken to the FAA through a complaint process where it was determined that the county was not inappropriate in what it was charging. Not only that, he said, but the agency also noted that the county has an obligation to collect the rent due to the fact that it has received federal grant money with the rent money as assurance. He also stated that not collecting the rent creates an unfair advantage for Hamilton Aviation versus other renters at the airport.
Recht said that Hamilton Aviation owed about $14,000 in back rent on one lease and $3,000 on another. He said the company also owes about $30,000 in back taxes, including interest and penalties.
Recht also noted that Hamilton Aviation had been involuntarily dissolved by the state in December, 2009. He said that as of last Friday the company had not been re-authorized to do business in the state. He said the county needs to collect its money and/or terminate any unpaid leases. He said the county cannot make a private agreement to waive a public obligation.
Recht also brought up an unpaid storage fee of $2,960 by Jack Vallance for storing a motor home at the airport. He said Vallance had made complaints similar to the ones made by Hamilton Aviation that were dismissed by the FAA. He said the same question of fairness applies to Vallance.
The commissioners instructed Recht to send demand letters to Hamilton Aviation and Vallance initiating the collection process that could end up in litigation.