County defers rent for airport businesses

OKEECHOBEE — At their April 9 meeting, the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners voted to defer rent payments at the Okeechobee County Airport for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airport Manager Adam Hied said FAA doesn’t like to see payment deferrals usually, but did publish guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he sent a proposal to the FAA Orlando office to defer payment of rent for 90 days, followed by a two-month grace period where the companies would pay normal rent, and after that, the businesses would have a 12-month period to pay off the past due rent.

“I would like to make it retroactive to March 1,” said Mr. Hied.

He said his proposal has been circulated throughout the state. “We’re kind of leading the charge to help businesses at airports,” he said. The proposal has gone to the General Aviation Authority at the state level.

The commissioners voted unanimously to allow Mr. Hied to approve rent deferrals at the airport on a case by case basis.

The commissioners also agreed to adjust the lease and sales agreement with Bautech. Mr. Hied said Bautech was to begin payments to the county on April 1. He said their manufacturing plant will be partially constructed in Italy and then put on a boat and finished here.

“They can’t even get their equipment until who knows when,” he said.

The board approved his recommendation that they amend the lease to allow Bautech to start payments in July.

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