Air ambulance hits snag in relocation plan | NevadaAppeal.com

Air ambulance hits snag in relocation plan

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

A Reno-based company that flies medical patients to cities with major hospitals is considering moving its operations and about 50 employees to the Carson Airport.

But not without some hurdles.

“It’s up in the air, actually,” said Jack Dawson, president of American Medflight, a sister company of Reno Flight Services. “We were planning on moving there; we may not. The offer was accepted by the owner. We went before the airport commission, they were very receptive.”

Then the company ran into a snag.

The hangar the company wants to move into was originally leased as a storage facility 15 years ago. The lease is good for 50 years and is worth about $1 million, said Realtor Russ Davidson.

Dawson’s employee-owned company is in the process of purchasing the 13,250 square foot hangar at the Carson City airport.

The problem is American Medflight would use the facility for commercial purposes, which would mean the lease would have to be modified from storage to commercial.

But the Carson City District Attorney’s office has told the Reno company that in order to change the lease, Nevada law requires the hangar’s current owner to walk away from it 35 years early to allow the Carson City Airport Authority to put the lease back out to bid as commercial space.

Melanie Bruketta, the chief deputy district attorney in Carson City, said an initial, unofficial reading of Nevada statutes would require the rebidding process in order to amend an existing lease at the airport, especially if the difference would increase tax revenue.

“We know for sure we have to get the property reappraised. My question is if we’re changing what this property has been used for, then do we have to go back out to bid,” Bruketta said. “My opinion is the law would require that.”

Steve Tackes, general counsel for the airport authority, said the circumstances are unfortunate, but the law is the law.

“Bottom line is you can’t put something out to lease in a public offering process, then after somebody has leased it, change the terms of the lease,” Tackes said.

Dawson said he still wants to try to work through the issue, adding he thinks it’s a matter of interpretation. He said if he cannot get the lease amended, the next step will be the Legislature.

Meanwhile, the Carson Airport is nearing the completion of its $9.6 million upgrade.

While improvements to the 6,100-foot runway are done, the airport has one more section of the taxiway to complete.

The project is expected to be finished in June.