City gets two promising proposals for its airport

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— The city of Steamboat Springs has received five proposals from business entities seeking to get involved in the future of the municipal airport.
Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said Friday the city will wait until new airport manager Matthew Grow is in place before evaluating responses to its request for proposals. The city sent out 19 packets in late May to interested parties and closed the process June 9. City Council had asked DuBord to explore the possibility of forming a business relationship that would allow it to reduce its annual subsidy at Steamboat Springs Airport. The wording of the request for proposals was deliberately open ended.
City Council President Kevin Bennett said he wanted to make sure the city made an effort to find out if there was a business entity somewhere that could benefit from locating at the airport.
"They don't have to rescue us," Bennett said at the time. "We're looking for a business approach someone who can use this facility better than we are, and cut our costs. We know we can't eliminate our costs."
Grow's first day on the job is Monday.
"One of his first duties will be to evaluate the proposals we've received and make his recommendation," DuBord said.
DuBord said, based on her preliminary examination of the proposals, she believes two are worthy of further evaluation and discussion. One of the two proposals was made by Mountain Flight Services, which already operates an air charter service and air ambulance at the airport. The other was made by a Broomfield company, BJC.
DuBord said she was attracted to the two proposals because they addressed City Council's desire to maximize revenue at the airport while decreasing the amount of its subsidy. Mountain Flight Services and BJC have both proposed combinations of new hangar development, marketing and FBO (fixed base operator) services. The FBO at an airport sells the aviation fuel, among other things. Both companies are willing to contract to provide the services or create a joint venture.
DuBord said the other three proposals didn't hit the target as accurately as the first two. One offered to help the city with legal and contract work. Another offered consulting and construction services for new hangars. The third proposed consulting services for hangar development and possible new uses for the city's largely vacant airport terminal.
The city built a new passenger terminal at the airport in 1993 at a cost of about $2.8 million, and a year later, lost commercial service. The city hasn't been able to attract a new airline, except for four months in 1997. More than a year ago, City Council accepted the idea that its airport might not have commercial service for a long time, if ever. The city has been paying more than $400,000 a year in debt service on the terminal and doesn't collect the $300,000 annually it once realized from commercial flights at the airport. The amount of annual payments will gradually decrease, with a significant drop in 2003, but the terminal won't be completely paid for until 2008.

To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail tomross@amigo.net

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