Following months of discussion at City Council and airport board meetings, fuel and hangar rental prices at Elton Hensley Memorial Airport are set to increase.
T-hangars will now rent at 15 cents per square foot per month — about a $24-$28 monthly increase, depending on the individual hangar's size. Ground leases will now cost 25 cents per square foot per year, up from 20 cents. The decision was finalized at Tuesday's Fulton City Council meeting.
"It's pretty good for the first hangar rent increase in 17 years," City Councilmember John Braun said.
Fulton's City Council hadn't increased the cost of renting its 32 T-hangars since 2002. These rates are still comparable to rates at similar airports, a survey conducted by city staff found.
Also at the airport are 10 box hangars of varying size and quality.
"We're asking for discretion in modifying the rent on those," city administrator Bill Johnson said.
Fuel costs will also increase slightly as the city increases its markup from 13-15 percent. At current airplane fuel prices, $3.42 per gallon, the previous markup results in a price of $3.86 per gallon, while the new price would be $3.83 per gallon.
City engineer Kyle Bruemmer said the moderate fuel cost increase should allow the airport to bring in a little more revenue while still remaining competitive with nearby airports, such as those at Mexico, Moberly, Boonville and Monroe City. Fulton's fuel prices are consistently lower than all four.
"The (airport advisory) board wanted to get it across that our fuel rates make it attractive for people to stop," Bruemmer said.
A pilot out for a spin will often happily fly a little farther to save money on fuel, the advisory board noted in its July meeting minutes.
Bruemmer requested some flexibility in setting fuel prices so if Fulton's markup still puts fuel prices well below those four neighboring airports, Elton Hensley can close the gap. Likewise, if there's a major event likely to put people in the air over Fulton — such as the recent AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which led to the sale of about 5,000 gallons of fuel in Fulton — the airport may offer a discount.
"I think we definitely need to stay competitive with those four (airports)," Councilmember Rick Shiverdecker said.
The council also discussed the possibility of providing a courtesy car for pilots who fly into Fulton. Some small airports offer a free-to-borrow vehicle as an amenity for visiting pilots.
"We're trying to get people to land here and come into town," Bruemmer said.
However, Fulton and the Kingdom Pilots Association have shied away from the potential liability issues. Johnson said the city once offered the KPA a spare car, which the organization declined.
Councilmember Jeff Stone offered an alternative suggestion.
"We have two licensed taxicab services in town and an Uber driver," Stone said. "What if, instead of providing a car, we subsidized the cost of the ride?"
He proposed offering a half-off ride voucher to pilots, which would avoid liability problems and help support local businesses.
Bruemmer said he would bring up the suggestion at the next board meeting.