Cheap Airport Lease Deals Continue
Is wagon train master Mayor Kurt Alberts getting more township bureaucratic help now to circle his bargain basement Township airport leases wagon train? Is this perhaps to help stem against the ever growing chorus of financial critics' arrows that are aimed directly at our taxpayer subsidized 24 cent a square foot, 20 plus year municipal airport lease deal 'fire sales'? Sure looks like it to this LFP Editor, as reported in the Langley Times on March 26. BTW, kudos to the Langley Times and Al Irwin for reporting on this Taxpayer owned airport lease financial fiasco again.
What is amazing is not just the fact that there is an even larger chorus of partisan Township bureaucratic voices supporting their Mayor's majority slate Council's lease deal this time around, but that the story has changed around their defense of the airport 24 cents lease deal this time. To catch up to this story first in case you forgot the details look here for LFP's original postings on this bad deal here, here & here. As well see the initial Province story here and Vancouver Sun story here as well.
Recently, our first of the many anticipated challenging Mayorality election candidates, Rick Green, also revived the airport lease deal criticism (see his quoted letter to the editor within this link) of this subsidized business deal at the airport. In fact Mr. Green calculates that essentially in his opinion this infamous 24 cent lease rate loses us the taxpayers $19.62 million over the 20 year lease term!
This financial fiasco was initially revealed only as a result of Councillor Kim Richter's questioning of the prudence and business sense of the major expansion to the airport proposed in very early 2007 especially when leasing to larger corporate interests for a what seemed to her to be a ridiculous 24 cent a sq. ft. deal over a 20 plus years contract term with only an annual published CPI cost of living increase! All she asked for then was a sober second profesional opinion. NO SECONDER at that time, obviously as usual. She even quoted a renowned professional airport assesssment expert who said that the Langley airport leases deal was way too low and that it should have been approximately 4 times more the amount per square foot to approximately $1.00 a sq. ft. instead of 24 cents a sq. ft.!
Remember the first time around, Jan/Feb 2007, the collective Mayor Alberts' bureaucratic chorus of justifications and arguments triumphed against Richter as well against her airport assessment expert's opinion. They argued that all the other airports were charging the same or very similar sq. footage rate with the same or similar contracts. They were also telling us then that airport industrial leassors could not survive at fair market rates. This now infamous 24 cent Airport lease fiasco was for that moment quelled with only Councillor Kim Richter voting against this deal at that time on council.
Well guess what? It seems Richter, the airport leasing advisor, Rick Green and The Province newspaper columnist Kent Spencer articles were right all along based on new information. First of all mayor candidate Rick Green now confirms that Boundary bay airport (he in fact was once a councillor at that airports municipality apparently) indeed is leasing airport industrial land from 60 cents and up to around $1.00 a sq. ft. The Langley Times reports this as well! This is 150% to 400% more than we lease our industrial land at our Township airport!
Secondly we now also find out that the first of these slew of new buildings on the north side of the airport, directly across from LSS secondary, that are going up at the Township taxpayer owned Langley airport indeed is advertised for leasing at $10.50 a sq. ft when the realtor was phoned. Don't believe this? See here for the realtor's web-page leasing info and phone number found by yours truly at LFP! Wow, can't you get industrial space at gloucester industrial park at 264 and the freeway for about the same going rate or even less?! Betcha they don't have 24 cent sq. ft. 20 year deals fixed at CPI annual increases either!
Suddenly, fast & furiously, there are way more of Mayor Alberts' and his supporting bureaucrats spurting forth, defending his council's decisions on these airport leases once again! By the way this is because once again on a recent new aviation business that Council debated recently for the same infamous 24 cent, 20 year, CPI increase leases Richter once again spoke out about these new leases and voted against them once again.
So, what are the new bureaucratic excuses and rationale now being floated again for this subsidized below market pricing airport leasing deal that Township taxpayers pay for? Mayor Alberts now says Township "may increase the rates over and above the CPI (consumer price index)"! Not that we are aware of or have read in the leases! But this questionable suggestion by Mayor Alberts does make one wonder where this is specified in the lease contracts because this Editor can't find it. Would you sign any lease that charges a variable rate? It also now makes this Editor wonder if the mayor suddenly also feels worried and also maybe questions the 24 cent leases himself a little bit now too? Little too late don't you think? But then a good defense is always a good offence! Do you the taxpaying public really buy any of these bureaucratic excuses? Here's some more new excuses floated.
Another new & fresh argument attempted to try to now justify these infamous 24 cent leases is that at the end of the leases the Township "obtains the buildings". Wow, 20 to 30 years down the road our grandchildren after subsidizing with our taxpayer dollars these developers' great financial lease deals will benefit with ownership of the structures. We wonder, what kind of ridiculous building liability and retained actual residual value there is indeed left that the owners would be stupid enough to ever relinquish after a generational cheap long term renewable leased buildings contract. Remember this will be mid this century with the contractual renewable 20 plus years lease terms in any event!
Also finally the Mayor's bureaucrats also now concede that our 20 year - 24 cent airport lease rate is indeed "lower than others". I never heard that admission a year or so ago! Wow, an admission finally! But a qualified admission no less! Also the next newest excuse never heard before is that the "size of runways and the length of runways" at these other airports should conveniently exclude airports like Boundary Bay airport from being compared to when considering lease rates! New one on me, never heard this one last year! Interesting how the story and excuses change and expand to try to justify just about everything don't you think? Once again, another attempt to rewrite financial bad decision making history perhaps? What do you think?
Next full-time fire hall Murrayville or Walnut Grove?
The March 26 Langley Times covers the upcoming decision for the third township fire hall to house a full time firefighter contingent. Will it be Murrayville or Walnut Grove next. Remember over the last few years that both Willoughby and Aldergrove fire halls have converted to full time firefighter contingents. This Editor also believes that Murrayville certainly should be next because geographically it will best serve center and south Langley as well as being closest to the Hospital (one block away) and the airport too. This is a no brainer. If in future a full time fourth hall is required then it would probably be Walnut Grove.
The interesting thing to note that surprised this Editor in the Times report is that last year there were 4100 calls and almost half (1500) were responded to by Willoughby fire hall! Does this mean that the full time contingent is doing most of the calls with subsequent far less call outs by the paid-on-call firefighters? Are there any complications or benefits due to this be it financially or motivational wise? For instance we understand that Otter fire hall no longer has a full time chief and that there is only one that serve both Aldergrove and Otter fire halls now. This obviously saves money and so does use of ore of each full-staffed fire hall in lieu of paid-on-call response. So when we hear that each new fully-staffed fire hall costs $1,5 million, what do we actually save in other staffing/operating costs and at what morale cost if any?
Langley Times Editorials and Letters Musings
The March 26 Langley Times Editor, Frank Bucholtz, agrees with our LFP columnist, Susan Semonick, that there should be a reduction of the quantity of School Board Trustees in the Langleys. In fact if you also agree go see Susan's petition link posted on the right LFP sidebar in the ads section and chime in to her or simply email your comments and thoughts to Susan.
Frank also speculates that the voters are satisfied essentially because the polls indicate the public's desire for a minority government because the Libs & Conservatives are still essentially tied in public support. We disagree because in our opinion the voters are dissatisfied because they obviously don't seem to like any party or any leader at all decisively! Curiously Frank reports on the fact that Kim Richter was seen cheering on Dion as seen on the Liberal web site video clip. You can also see our photo slide show of her attendance at the Surrey Liberal function that Liberal Leader Dion recently attended. What he does not mention is that Richter formally supported Michael Ignatieff in his leadership bid over Dion. The fact that she obviously applauds the current elected leader whoever he or she is at a Liberal event is not really unusual or significant at all, but it is a curious observation. I did not know that Frank regularly reads the official Liberal website! Is Frank a closet Liberal? Not!
Then there is now the almost regular letter written to the Editor by our very own Mayor Kurt Alberts. Yes folks, the election fever is in full force. You can in his letter clearly read his main 2008 election platform line preview. Specifically; "example of the the community working together", "the Township put significant funds into the project", "Township taxpayers benefited with cost savings", "it takes vision but it also takes a lot of working together.." . He in this Editor's humble opinion probably won't mention that his Township council's "Good Ole boys Club" is also working together behind closed doors to provide historically the highest ever year after year compounded tax increases, out-of-control spending increases and debt increases along with continual out-of-control project cost overruns and financial fiascoes like the infamous 24 cent airport leases and very questionable land purchases and sales.
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