Angry aviators in rent dispute
GYMPIE Regional Council has been accused of inflating rents to extortionate levels at Kybong aerodrome, possibly as a prelude to selling off the facility.
Amateur aviators met at Gympie Aero Club's Kybong hangar yesterday to discuss raw land rents which they say exceed the cost of shopping space in the Gympie CBD, despite a lack of electricity, water or sewerage services.
"It's blackmail," one home-built aircraft owner said yesterday of council plans to charge him $3000 a year, or about $17 a sq.m, for a patch of raw unserviced ground, on which he has built his own steel shed hangar.
Another said that shop owners in Gympie CBD were flat out charging $11 a sq.m, when they had "provided the concrete and the steel and the car parks, electricity, water supply and sewerage".
However, council Works and Services Committee chairman Larry Friske yesterday described the issue as "a storm in a tea cup" and hinted at a compromise.
"IT'S blackmail," one airport tenant said of council rent hike plans.
"They know we have a problem dismantling and shifting our sheds, so they've got us," he said.
But Cr Friske said the flyers would find it was not as bad as that.
"We've just had a meeting with hangar owners and we're entering into negotiations," he said.
Before the 3pm meeting with council, flyers gathered at the airport to express their concerns at rental rates, which they say are out of all proportion to any comparable regional airport.
"They're comparing us with Maroochydore, which is a major airport with security and a wide, well-maintained runway.
"There isn't really anything to compare with Gympie aerodrome, because the others are all better serviced.
"Gympie is really just a landing strip.
"They want to charge 10 times what it costs at Kingaroy, where they have much better facilities and a runway without a hump in the middle of it.
"They only charge $1.50 to $2 a sq.m," he said.
"They are also apparently comparing us with Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, but they have security and services.
"We have commercial hangars here where the council won't let them operate commercially, because they don't have electricity."
One pilot said council had not even come out to oil the windsock bearings, meaning the important safety device could not turn around to indicate wind direction.
The taxi way had potholes which could cost an aircraft an expensive propeller and engine rebuild if the prop hit the ground, the toilets had not been cleaned in years and pilots had received nothing in return for thousands of dollars they had paid to council in return for connecting electricity.