QUINCY -- The Quincy City Council on Tuesday approved a lease with Moss Family Farms to continue raising corn and soybeans on Quincy Regional Airport property for two more calendar years.
The contract was approved by a 10-0 vote by Aldermen Tonia McKiernan, D-1, Eric Entrup, R-1, Jeff Bergman, R-2, Dave Bauer, D-2, Jason Finney, R-3, Michael Farha, R-4, John Mast R-5, Richie Reis, D-6, Katie Awerkamp, D-6, and Benjamin Uzelac, D-7.
Aldermen Tom Ernst, R-3, Tony Sassen, R-4, Mike Rein, R-5 and Jack Holtschlag, D-7, were absent.
In exchange for the use of 450 acres, Moss Family Farms, based in Pike County, will pay at least $120,000 per year, Quincy Regional Airport Director Sandra Shore said. The airport will, and has, received additional revenue from Moss Family Farms if the per-acre yields reach a threshold. The business began leasing large portions of the property in 1991.
"This is one of the most important ground leases that we hold," Shore said. "It is our biggest source of revenue by far, aside from grant money."
Shore said the airport uses the proceeds from the farming contract to cover the cost of day-to-day operations.
"(Grants) are very important in terms of maintaining our infrastructure out there, but we still have to pay our employees," Shore said. "We have to mow 1,100 acres, and that means equipment and labor. We have to plow and remove snow control, and if it is like last winter, we will have to do that multiple times. We use the money from this to maintain the terminal and ensure that we have a safe terminal for all kinds of passengers and operators."
Shore said one of the important aspects of the contract is the flexibility it offers the airport, especially as the airport considers other revenue options such as developing land now used for farming into a solar energy field.
"This gives us a little bit of flexibility as we continue to explore other options," Shore said. Under the contract, the airport can reduce the amount of acres farmed on a yearly basis.
City officials and members of the city's aeronautics committee have said developing alternative revenue sources is important for the airport's future. "It is important that we do this because it will help us accomplish what we need to do with having as little of a burden on the taxpayers as possible," Shore said.