Oxford County putting $750,000 in airport costs behind it

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PARIS — Legal fees associated with bringing a resolution to the county’s lease with an aviation company cost taxpayers more than three-quarters of a million dollars, according to county officials.

Regarding an approximation of the legal costs involved in a litigation over its lease deal for several years with Oxford Aviation, former tenant in one of the hangar buildings at the county-owned airport, county administrator Scott Cole said, “The goods news is that it’s over.

“We’ve stabilized the fiscal bleeding at the airport,” he said.

The county has been cleaning up the building on its own dime since it evicted Oxford Aviation from its headquarters in April. By October, most of the waste had been removed to the tune of $27,737. Commissioners approved $62,500 for repairs and maintenance for the next fiscal year. 

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The doors of Oxford Aviation, an airplane refurbishing business once located at the Oxford County Regional Airport on Number Six Road in Oxford, were closed after 25 years of leasing the building from the county this past spring. 

Cole said prospective customers have approached the county about leasing the building, though it must receive a clean bill of health from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The entire 40,000-square-foot facility may need to have every surface wiped down, Cole said. 

Re-evaluating the airport’s status remains a high priority as the county hopes a similar company will take up residency.  

“As far as the airport itself, we’re talking about our master plan with the Federal Aviation Administration, with the focus of seeing what’s best for the area,” he said. 

The airport has remained open to inbound pilots in the eight months since the county repossessed the building. Fuel pumps are expected to be functioning by January after being turned off for maintenance. Commissioners have approved $11,000 for the county to purchase fuel. 

“Pilots have been asking,” Cole said. “They’ve been patient.”

He put the costs of repairing a leaking roof, burst pipes and routine maintenance on the hangar doors between $300,000 and 500,000. The county hopes a tenant can be convinced to shoulder some — if not all — of those costs. 

Another issue will be segregating its electricity accounts to reduce utility costs, as the building lights are billed at the same rate as the runway lights. 

ccrosby@sunjournal.com 

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