City formalizes airport contract termination

FAIRMONT – The facts have been gathered for the termination of Fairmont’s contract with Five Lakes Aviation, the fixed-base operator and manager of the municipal airport.

The council approved its attorney’s findings Monday, a formalization of a previous vote to terminate the contract effective Sept. 30. The findings will now be passed on to Five Lakes Aviation’s lawyer.

The city has a five-year contract with the airport manager, the first year of which will be completed in September.

The following are included in the city attorney’s Findings of Facts:

o Five Lake Aviation has repeatedly failed to maintain the premises of the airport in good condition as required by the contracts, including allowing the accumulation of unacceptable amounts of miscellaneous scrap materials, personal property and non-aviation related business property. In addition, FLA failed to submit work orders to repair the premises to the city administrator as required by the maintenance agreement.

o FLA failed to inspect all airport buildings and hangars on a quarterly basis and file inspection reports with the city administrator.

o FLA ignored or violated various state, federal and city laws, rules and regulations, including illegally burning trash and scrap building materials at the airport, which resulted in airport manager Al Pelzer being charged with a misdemeanor, to which he pleaded guilty. There are also violations regarding fuel-dispensing equipment leaking jet fuel, and questionable fuel storage arrangements.

o FLA failed to store inside a building city-owned equipment used to maintain the airport; instead FLA stored personal non-aviation equipment in the building.

o FLA allowed Al Pelzer to operate a non-aviation business at the airport in violation of the contracts and FAA regulations.

o FLA as the fixed-base operator allowed its employee to exhibit unprofessional conduct, behavior and demeanor, which reflected badly upon the city of Fairmont.

The council unanimously approved the findings with no discussion.

Before beginning interviews for Five Lakes Aviation’s replacement, City Administrator Mike Humpal said city staff is evaluating how the airport operates and any potential changes that need to be made.

Humpal asked that parties interested in the position call him at City Hall, (507) 238-9461. He has already started a file of potential candidates from people who have contacted him about the job.

In other business Monday, the council:

o Rejected a bid for sealcoating. The city got only one bid, which was 25 percent higher than the engineer’s estimate. The city will seek bids a second time in hopes of more competitive results.

The soonest bids could be opened due to state advertising requirements would be Aug. 1, which would allow about two months, depending on the weather, for the contractor to complete sealcoating.

o Discussed abuse of the city’s tree dump. Three grills and a dresser were dropped off at the dump over the weekend. City Councilman Joe Kallemeyn warned the dump will have to close if people continue to misuse it.

o Approved a refuse-hauling license application for Many Hands LLC of Trimont. The firm will initially sell bags for residential garbage removal.