WRPA OKs Project Financing, Great Lakes’ Reimbursement

VIENNA, Ohio — The Western Reserve Port Authority has approved a capital lease deal in which it would issue up to $14 million in bonds for a 62-residential unit complex that would serve the growing residential population at Youngstown State University.

LRC Realty, Akron, is developer of the project, known as The Enclave.

“They still have a  bit of work to do with the acquisition of the Campus Book and Supply property,” said Anthony Trevena, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, WRPA’s economic development division. “However, we’re at the place where we want to keep them moving forward. We’re hoping an announcement comes very soon that they would be breaking ground.”

The board also approved issuing up to $2 million in tax-free bonds to support Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics’ expansion of its campus at the airport, a project launched July 12 with a groundbreaking, and paying $25,000 annually for four years to support the Tech Belt Energy Incubator in Warren.

During Wednesday’s meeting of WRPA’s board of directors, Dan Dickten,  reported that daily service to Chicago launched July 1 by Great Lakes Jet Express is “doing as expected” initially.

Dickten is director of aviation at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

Ticket sales are averaging between $7,000 and $8,000 per day, he reported.

“It’s still trending toward that $8,500 sales per day that we need to sustain this thing,” he said. Planes are booked at about 32% of capacity and need to be reach 70%.

The board approved payment of an $88,000 invoice submitted by Great Lakes to support the service from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant secured to subsidize its launch. The request is “somewhat of an advance” but as the carrier submits an invoice, the department supports payment, he said.

The airport will pay Great Lakes out of the $480,000 local match fund then submit a reimbursement application to DOT, which will reimburse the airport 65% of the invoice, Dickten said.

“This is the system we signed up to do,” he said.

“You can look for a $250,000 invoice for the [full] month of July,” he added. “We knew this going in.”

For the first six months of the year, total passenger count at the airport was 57,364 – down 4,816 from the same period in 2015 — with an average load factor of 89.8%, he reported. Flights for the first half of the year totaled 199, 25 fewer than this time last year due to Allegiant Air pulling flights out of its schedule.

After returning from executive session, the port authority board voted to clarify that accounting and marketing functions for both the economic development and aviation divisions report to John Moliterno, WRPA executive director.

“We’re doing a bunch of fine-tuning right now,” said Ron Klingle, the port authority’s chairman. “It’s almost not a change.”

Klingle said that the change did not result from a situation Dickten addressed at the start of the meeting —  a Vindicator story last weekend that revealed a $40,000 settlement with a former port authority employee. According to the story, former administrative assistant Lauren Iaderosa claimed that Dickten sexually harassed and otherwise mistreated her.

The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing and avoids the port authority having to spend upwards of $250,000 to win in court, he said.

“After a very thorough investigation was conducted by the port authority that included both inside and outside counsel, it was concluded that there was absolutely no proof that I harassed anyone including the former employee,” Dickten emphasized. “I can assure that I did not nor have I ever harassed anyone.”

Before the executive session, the board voted to change the title of Sarah Lown to public finance manager from senior manager of economic development. Lown was given a raise in salary to $71,000. As of Jan. 1, 2014, her salary was set at $68,500,

“She really is just a great asset to this agency,’” Trevena said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.