Ogden-Hinckley Airport is costing taxpayers millions, legislative audit finds

The city has been operating the airport at a $15 million loss for more than the last decade, and auditors said they found that the airport was “not a priority to city governance for many years.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Ogden-Hinckley Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. Ogden City has been operating the airport at a millions-dollar deficit for over a decade, legislative auditors found in a new report.

Ogden City lost millions of taxpayer dollars operating the Ogden-Hinckley Airport at a deficit for over a decade, a new legislative audit found.

The performance audit, published by the Utah Office of the Legislative Auditor General on Wednesday, found Ogden-Hinckley Airport was operating at a loss every year from 2006 to 2022, with a total financial loss of $15 million. The largest annual loss of around $1.7 million happened in 2008, with its smallest annual loss was around $200,000 in 2014.

The city subsidized those losses through its general fund and money collected from the Business Depot Ogden industrial park. The audit also found that the airport was “not a priority to city governance for many years,” and found that a lack of planning contributed to the airport losing money.

The audit outlined how the Ogden airport received $10 million in state funds in 2020 for upgrades to the airport. At the time, Ogden City claimed the funding would bring 3,000 new jobs and around $250 million in new earnings. However, despite most of the upgrades being made to the airport, the new jobs and new earnings have not materialized, the audit says.

Legislative auditors also found a little over half of the airport’s 244 aircraft hangers have no building or code inspection on record. The audit goes on to say, “22 hangars have no functioning aircraft and for 43 more hangars there is no aircraft information.”

In 2021, hangar owners sued the city, alleging they were wrongfully evicted from their hangars after the city began changing its policies on how hangar leases were being renewed. A federal judge sided with the city in 2022, according to the Standard-Examiner, but the case was later appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Auditors noted the ongoing lawsuit between Ogden City and hangar owners but made it clear they would not offer an opinion on the ongoing litigation.

“We are grateful to the legislature and to the audit committee and staff for their time and consideration during this process,” an Ogden City spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. “We understand and agree with these findings and look forward to implementing the improvements that will move the Ogden Airport and its stakeholders forward in a positive direction.”

In a response attached to the audit, Ogden Mayor Ben Nadolski — who was elected in November, after the years studied in the audit — wrote that the city has recently contracted with a consulting firm to make changes at the airport. He added, “It is anticipated that this will lead to the creation of best practices and procedures, and decision making utilizing the management cycle to guide policy and governance of OGD.”

In recent years, Ogden-Hinckley has seen its commercial flight offerings coming and go. In February, Breeze Airways began offering flights from Ogden to the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.

Read the full report here:

Update, 6:30 p.m. • This story has been updated to include a statement from Ogden City.