Airport Authority to back loan to help pay off Air Fest debtsThe Jamestown Regional Airport Authority agreed to serve as a backer of a loan of $75,000 to the Air Fest Committee to cover loses during the recent air show at a special board meeting Wednesday night. The money will allow all creditors of the Air Fest to be paid now with the hopes that funds to repay the loan can be gathered from a variety of sources in and out of the community.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority agreed to serve as a backer of a loan of $75,000 to the Air Fest Committee to cover loses during the recent air show at a special board meeting Wednesday night. The money will allow all creditors of the Air Fest to be paid now with the hopes that funds to repay the loan can be gathered from a variety of sources in and out of the community.
“We need to step up and back this loan,” said Johnny Klingenberg, Airport Authority president. “Then pay these debts off and go about raising the money.”
Assets of the airport would be used as collateral for a loan that would be secured from a commercial bank. The ultimate responsibility for paying off the loan will rest with the Airport Authority if funds can not be raised to pay off the deficit of the Air Fest.
Airport Authority board members discussed their responsibility for the Air Fest’s debts before unanimously approving securing the loan with Craig Neys and Kelani Parisien absent.
“Technically we are not involved financially,” said Dennis Nelson, board member. “But we are perceived as putting on the show.”
The Jamestown Air Fest profit and loss statement showed a total income of more than $102,000. However, expenses for the one day event totaled more than $177,000.
The income included almost $76,000 in sponsorships and more than $4,000 in raffle tickets along with income from vendors. But the category that the committee felt came up short was in ticket sales.
“The weather problem on Saturday and the postponement to Sunday really affected our gate,” said Jon Cave, owner of First Class Aviation and one of the Air Fest committee members. “Based on our advance sales we were projecting a total gate of about $47,000. We ended up with less than $20,000.”
Along with a reduced gate the Air Fest committee had increased expenses for motel rooms for the performers.
The bulk of the expenses for the Air Fest were incurred to hire the performers for the show. Cave said the contracts included fees for their performances as well as fuel and motel rooms for the time they were in Jamestown.
The expense item “performer fees” totaled more than $83,000. With nearly $27,000 in fuel and $6,000 in rooms added the total direct costs of the air show performers was approximately $116,000.
“Fuel was a real killer for our budget too,” Cave said. “When we did the budget fuel was at $4.60 per gallon. That was three months before the show. At the time of the show jet fuel was $5.90 per gallon.”
Currently a number of the performers and vendors of the show have not been paid including the fuel bill to First Class Aviation and the Migs and Fury act. With the proceeds of the loan the committee will be able to pay all its bills and then start the process of fundraising to repay the loan.
“We have to look at this as a city-wide matter,” Klingenberg said.
He volunteered to accompany other board members to revisit the City Council and Buffalo City Tourism as well as apply for funds from the charitable gambling groups in town.
The Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee had heard a request from the Air Fest committee during its meeting on Tuesday.
“The city asked us to put together a plan before they would consider anything,” said Andrew Schneider, airport manager.
A request for funds from Buffalo City Tourism Foundation was declined.
“They made a grant application last week,” said Nina Schneider, director of the foundation. “Our guidelines won’t allow us to fund anyone after the event.”
But the Air Fest committee does have other options.
A grant request in the amount of $37,000 was made to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. The money would come from the educational funds at the commission.
And they also hope that any profits realized by the 125th Anniversary Celebration Committee can be earmarked to repay the losses of the air show.
“The 125th hasn’t met so we don’t know their situation yet,” said Jim Boyd, member of the Airport Authority and the Air Fest committee. “We are expecting some funding from them if they can.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com