Home News Economic Development Huronia Airport Wants More Tax Dollars – Roy Ellis
Huronia Airport Wants More Tax Dollars – Roy Ellis

Huronia Airport Wants More Tax Dollars – Roy Ellis

230
1
Roy Ellis speaks to council about funding for the Huronia Airport
Roy Ellis speaks to council about funding for the Huronia Airport

In a recent deputation by MidlandCommunity’s Roy Ellis, and echoed in their September “Council Update” (included below), we watched and listened with interest as Mr Ellis lobbied Council (and Midland taxpayers) for yet more money for the Huronia Airport.  As a self-professed avid pilot with his own 1964 Cessna 182G C-FRLG, he certainly can’t be faulted for being an advocate for the airport or volunteering time on the commission.

The airport is largely seen by many in the community as a rich-man’s private club with a rather exclusive membership.  The airport is not in Midland it is in Tiny Township, yet Midland owns 50% and is responsible for those costs.  The businesses that run at the airport pay taxes to Tiny Township and “may” employ “some” workers who live in Midland.  It is used by hobbyists with deep pockets (aviation is not a cheap hobby), and for the odd corporate executive and as a place for the odd emergency service aircraft to land… provincially and federally funded emergency services I should add…  I am no airport hater but “show me the money”.  Where is our ROI?  Where is the accounting to back that up?

Mr. Ellis’s sales pitch, or “deputation” to Council last week was reported by his own lobby group in the following way (although you can watch it online by reviewing the video on the Town’s YouTube channel or on Rogers.ca)

Mr. Roy Ellis, on behalf of the Huronia Airport Commission, made the next presentation.  Midland owns 50% of the Airport facility and its partners Penetanguishene & Tiny Twp own the balance.  Mr. Ellis noted that the municipalities cover 40% of the annual $300,000 operating budget.   Midland’s financial obligation this year was $56,000.00 with the town kicking in an additional contribution of $10,000.00 to support a loan to repair 1,000 feet of the runway.  The Airport facility continues to open up new opportunities for our expanding aeronautic & related aircraft industries that are located on the premises.  These innovative growth businesses create new high tech, well paying jobs.  Mr. Ellis reported that over the past 5 years, flight activity and hanger space is up 50% with a current waiting list for hangar space. The airport Commission’s immediate focus is to construct a new hangar facility that will also serve as a maintenance facility for storage of airside heavy equipment.

The overall economic impact of the Airport within the region is well over $10 million annually.

It is the last statement that has many wondering aloud.  It was a bold statement on one single powerpoint slide but not  backed up with any evidence (and curiously, nor did council ask for any).  Where is the evidence that they used to arrive at that figure?  Who did the research?  What percentage can be attributed to Midland’s generous contributions to their operating budget?

For someone known to make pie charts, spreadsheets, graphs and bafflegab Council with statistics in his many deputations about wanton tax waste and fiscal mismanagement, his plain slide with the whopping “$10 million annually” claim seemed woefully inadequate, a dry bone devoid of any meat.

The irony perceived by many is that this founding father of the local tax cutting / expense cutting lobby group that we’ve dubbed “midlandCUTmunity.ca” stood before council with his hand out for an enterprise that should be solely self-sufficient when considering the wealth of those who use the resource and how relatively meaningless the airport is to the rest of the community… I know them’s fighting words… I call upon Roy and the rest of the Airport Commission to produce evidence that this “club” is any more deserving of our hard-earned tax dollars than any other club whom MidlandCommunity.ca has been against helping out citing reducing our taxes as the reasons.

By comparison, let’s look at a special favourite of Ellis, Strathearn et al  – the Huronia Museum whom they criticize at every opportunity.

Let’s just look at what they wrote in the same update:

Then there was the Huronia Museum lease…again.  Here is Midland’s latest never-ending story in the Museum Board’s persistent pursuit of a partnership & lease agreement with the Town.  While it is a foregone conclusion that the Town will eventually forgive the Museum’s debts & enter into a lease at below market rates, one can only hope that there will come a ‘new day’ for financial support, seen through the lens of a Return on Investment (ROI) for the town and the ratepayer.

This is how we see it!

So we can finance the airport’s expansions, re-paving and operating costs but we should toss the Museum off town-owned land unless they can be self-sufficient or pay market rates?

I keep hoping I will find something in their rhetoric to get behind… after all, who wants to pay MORE taxes?

The consistent message from whomever writes these unsigned “community updates” is one of inequality, selfishness and obviously a self-serving loathing of community services, emergency services, arts and culture, local workers and unions and they use their passive-aggressive updates as a way to make most of their readers think they (mc.ca) are far smarter than the rest of us…

We only have to wait another 1.5 years before we get to see their hand-picked bagmen that they would see replace the councillors whom they cannot sway or influence and watch them toss “kudos” when council does as they see fit and berate any who oppose their viewpoints or call in to question their motivations and agendas.

Let’s see if the airport folks can provide meaningful, peer-reviewed evidence of their economic impact on Midland now, in the past and what logic and math they are using to project future return on our investment.

It seems odd that our group, who lobbies for paying fairly for the services that the majority want, need and deserve from our tax dollars has to even ask these questions of a group like MidlandCommunity.ca who professes to have our best interests in mind, understand all things better than the rest of us and continues to lobby for self-serving interests of the 1% while the 99% pick up the tab.

Mr Ellis, I expect you to publish some facts so that we can review them carefully and decide if the airport is a worthy cause to continue to fund in times of austerity or if, like the MPUC, our interests should be sold off to private sectors who can take the risks instead of the Midland taxpayer.   The fact that we collect over $600k yearly from our MPUC is easy to audit.  The claim that we somehow derive $10 million yearly from the airport is currently looking like nothing more than an empty, unsubstantiated claim used to squeeze continuing funds from the local ratepayers at the expense of other worthy causes and organizations who depend on a depleting supply of public funds to launch, operate and sustain their services to the many instead of the few.

MidlandCommunity.ca Council Update (September)

September 2016 Council Update
Perhaps to make up for the brevity of Augusts’ Council meeting, September saw a rather ambitious agenda.

Four deputations were presented starting with the quarterly update of Sharon Vegh and Kathy Eldson-Befort of the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS).

They spoke of continued efforts aimed at getting North Simcoe’s message out to the business community at large noting that, to date, more than 700 businesses had been directly contacted to consider locating their business in ‘The Heart of Georgian Bay’.

EDCNS’ primary focus in 2016 was on reaching out to manufacturers through their successful prosperity summit and quarterly roundtable meetings with highly engaged local manufacturers.  EDCNS confirmed their targets & goals for the year are on track.

Ms. Vegh also conveyed to Council that the $300K in funding this year to EDCNS by Simcoe County and the four member Municipalities has been leveraged to yield over $1,000,000 in additional provincial and federal funding to our area.

Mr. Roy Ellis, on behalf of the Huronia Airport Commission, made the next presentation.  Midland owns 50% of the Airport facility and its partners Penetanguishene & Tiny Twp own the balance.  Mr. Ellis noted that the municipalities cover 40% of the annual $300,000 operating budget.   Midland’s financial obligation this year was $56,000.00 with the town kicking in an additional contribution of $10,000.00 to support a loan to repair 1,000 feet of the runway.  The Airport facility continues to open up new opportunities for our expanding aeronautic & related aircraft industries that are located on the premises.  These innovative growth businesses create new high?tech, well paying jobs.  Mr. Ellis reported that over the past 5 years, flight activity and hanger space is up 50% with a current waiting list for hangar space. The airport Commission’s immediate focus is to construct a new hangar facility that will also serve as a maintenance facility for storage of airside heavy equipment.

The overall economic impact of the Airport within the region is well over $10 million annually.

Next was a postmortem on this past summer’s butter tart festival presented by its new manager, Ms. Angela Bird.  By the numbers, 43,000 attended the 2016 festival of which 43% had traveled from out of the area.  127,200 butter tarts were sold (up 60% from 2015) generating just shy of $3.9M in economic activity for the community.  The event incurred $86,000.00 in expenses and finished in the black by $16,000.00, which will go towards 2017’s event.  Social media reached over 400,000 people and the festival received widespread attention from media outlets both nationally & in major markets such as Toronto.  With 95% of those out of town visitors surveyed stating that they planned to return next year, Ms. Bird’s goal of selling 145,000 tarts in 2017 looks promising.  Congratulations to Angela & her team for pulling together a truly unique and successful event which, if not already, will become a bonafide Midland cultural icon.

Last but not least was Tracy Roxborough, who is the Sustainability Coordinator for Sustainable Severn Sound.  Ms. Roxborough briefly described the challenges the organization has faced over the years in trying to tackle too broad an agenda with very limited resources.  To address this, the group has developed a new strategic plan focusing on 10 main areas of concern such as municipal support & education.  Referring to these as “Sustainability Building Blocks”, the group hopes to concentrate its resources towards objectives where it can be most effective.  She announced that the organization will be holding a public event at the NSSRC on November 29th to launch its new website, and all are welcome to attend.

The sometimes-raucous business portion of the Agenda saw Council deal with some notable issues.  Perhaps most important was the hiring of Mr. Mark Rodger & Dr. Larry Murphy to solicit and evaluate proposals from potential purchasers of MPUC, the local electrical utility.  At the same time, Council decided to expand the ‘sale’ Committee by adding additional members.

The Agenda also included a ‘verbal’ report on the Official Plan Amendment (OPA) for second units and related zoning amendments.  The zoning appeals are withdrawn which now only leaves the OPA awaiting approval by Simcoe County.  A Provincial planner recently sent a letter to the County with negative comments on Midland’s OPA, which allows any house, semi and townhouse to have a second unit once it is three years old.  Astoundingly, the complaint from the Province is Midland’s OPA is too ‘restrictive’.  When informed of this letter, Council directed the Town’s lawyer to make written submissions to the County supporting Council’s decisions on second units.

Kudos to Council for its conviction in carrying through on this.

Then there was the Huronia Museum lease…again.

Here is Midland’s latest never-ending story in the Museum Board’s persistent pursuit of a partnership & lease agreement with the Town.  While it is a foregone conclusion that the Town will eventually forgive the Museum’s debts & enter into a lease at below market rates, one can only hope that there will come a ‘new day’ for financial support, seen through the lens of a Return on Investment (ROI) for the town and the ratepayer.

This is how we see it!

MidlandCommunity.ca

(230)

Comment(1)

Leave a Reply

Huronia Airport Wants More Tax Dollars – Roy Ellis

1
%d bloggers like this: