Fuel depot sparks talk over Cornwall Regional Airport cost-sharing

Cornwall Regional Airport Commission Chairman Frank Prevost, left, and South Glengarry Infrastructure General Manager Ewen MacDonald make a presentation to the Cornwall budget committee on Feb. 27, 2015. The city is looking at a 1.72 per cent increase to its portion of the airport budget. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL/SOUTH GLENGARRY – A major capital project for the Cornwall Regional Airport is fueling talk about the cost-sharing relationship between the city and South Glengarry.

The airport commission presented its 2015 budget Friday morning, calling for $210,920 – roughly 45 per cent more than 2014.

The city’s prorated portion (85 per cent of the budget) is up 1.72 per cent. Cornwall would be paying $123,800 for the airport – South Glengarry’s share is $10,000.

South Glengarry Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost, who is also the airport commission chairman, told the budget committee a major capital expense is a $115,000 fuel depot to supply so-called “Jet A” fuel.

“Jet A” is a highly refined kerosene-type fuel with some additives, used in jets, turboprop aircraft and most helicopters. It’s available in other regional airports like Kingston and Brockville. Right now, the airstrip in Summerstown only has Avgas, which is a refined gasoline sold to retailers in smaller quantities compared to “Jet A.”

The high ticket item is drawing concerns from some city councillors, who want to revisit the funding agreement, where Cornwall pays 85 per cent of the cost for the airport while South Glengarry pays 15 per cent.

The fuel depot would cost Cornwall taxpayers $97,750. (South Glengarrians would pay $17,250).

“As the municipality, as the council in South Glengarry, we certainly agree with the frustrations that the City of Cornwall has in respect to the agreement,” South Glengarry Deputy Mayor Prevost told Cornwall Newswatch.

Prevost says the 1984 agreement has been in the hands of their municipal lawyer for review for the past eight to nine months. “What those numbers are going to change in regards to the 85-15 per cent split, I have no idea,” Prevost said. The contractual agreement will likely address rights and responsibilities but it will be up to the municipal councils to come to an agreement on cost-sharing.

The airport commission head says the United Counties were approached last year about sharing in the cost of the airport but the majority of county council wasn’t interested because the airport was only a benefit to South Glengarry, South Stormont and the City of Cornwall.

The “Jet A” fuel depot comes with the adage of “spend money to make money”. Prevost says having “Jet A” would open up the door for companies looking to lease land for hangers.

“We have a large demand from the larger aircraft in regards to getting jet fuel…we get one or two questions on a monthly basis,” Prevost said.

Prevost believes they would get their return on investment within three to five years.

Cornwall CAO Norm Levac says a report on the funding formula is expected within “weeks to months” from now.

As for the expansion of the airport, Prevost says that process has been hung up because of a lack of formal support from the previous City of Cornwall administration.

The airport commission needs a letter of support to send to MP Guy Lauzon in order to apply for federal funding.

According to Prevost, the last Cornwall council didn’t give a letter of support because it was afraid there was a financial commitment attached to the letter.

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