Letter to Editor: Rominger Airport is a vital economic engine for community


Last week’s newspapers had a great article about the Rio Grande County Board of County Commissioners airport update. Thank you, Lyndsie Ferrell!

In that article, Commissioner (now former) John Noffsker expressed some concerns about new hangar development at the Astronaut Kent Rominger Airport.

Quote, “I fear we may be depleting resources for the local interest. We are changing the demographic of the local Airport. The emphasis changes for the community and you become a haven for out-of-area people to store their airplanes”.

I would like to point out to Mr. Noffsker that 16 of the 34 existing hangars at the Airport are owned by “out-of-area” persons or entities. That would include the Airport’s namesake, Astronaut Kent Rominger.

I am not sure why he has expressed that we are “changing the demographic” when the County has been doing this for over 20 years.

I will once again remind Mr. Noffsker, as I have in numerous Airport Advisory Board meetings, that each and every hangar owner at the Airport also owns property (and some, businesses) in Rio Grande County. That applies to existing and new hangars under construction.

All hangars at the Airport occupy lots leased to the owners by the County. The expense of building and maintaining the hangar, and lot, is up to the Lessee.

These lots are not large. They are measured, and charged, by the square foot.

Every hangar owner pays a yearly lease fee that goes to the Airport Fund.

More importantly, the hangar owners also pay property tax on those buildings. This tax is quite substantial, being charged at the County Commercial tax rate.

Where do the Property taxes go? To the Community: Upper Rio Grande School District, Public Welfare, Public Health, Del Norte Fire District, County Library, Weed and Pest District, SLV Water Conservation District, Rio Grande Water Conservation District. Finally, RGC General Fund and Road and Bridge.

I have separated those last two tax contributions to emphasize that the General Fund money is not returned to the Airport Fund. It is used for other County purposes.

Road and Bridge is a recipient of Airport Property taxes even though they provide no services at the Airport.

Finally, I would like to remind Mr. Noffsker that all of the new hangars being constructed are utilizing local Contractors and Suppliers bringing a big boost to the local economy.

Not only is the Astronaut Kent Rominger Airport a vital emergency transportation hub, it is a vital economic engine for the surrounding community.

Tom Haefeli

Del Norte