Miracle Strip Aviation billing error
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 03:33 PM CDT
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- Okaloosa County is trying to collect almost 500,000 dollars in unpaid rent from a company at Destin Airport.
The county says Miracle Strip Aviation paid less than it owed for five years running.
How the county plans to get the money back.
Miracle Strip Aviation operates in this building leased from Okaloosa County.
They're a Fixed Base Operator or FBO.
They sell gasoline and offer other amenities to pilots and passengers.
County leaders say a 485,000 dollar shortfall in rent payments is the result of a billing error.
A rent increase was written into Miracle Strip Aviation's lease, but the county kept invoicing them for the lesser amount.
Greg Fisher/Tripshock "With everything going on in our county, with the scandals and so-forth, it doesn't surprise me that there's been accounting errors like this."
How the incorrect billing went on for five years is not completely clear.
Temporary Airports Director Dino Villani is one of the county leaders looking into it.
Dino Villani/Interim Airports Director "Well, we're not certain. We know that some of the money wasn't placed into an account that was earmarked for the specific project, and that could have delayed uncovering it"
After an audit uncovered the problem in 2011, the matter got tied up in court.
Miracle Strip Aviation has now been bought by new owners who are willing to clear the debt.
Greg Fisher from the vacation website Tripshock says it's a good business move.
Greg Fisher "There's a lot of CEO's and wealthy Americans living in the Southeast that will take advantage of coming into a local FBO on a private jet. So there's plenty of opportunity."
The county is asking the new company, Regal Capital, for a combination of a cash payment, renovations to the building, and the remaining 235,000 to be paid with interest over six years.
The interim airports director hopes to present a settlement to commissioners on the 19th.
The owner of Regal Capital didn't want to comment until negotiations are finished.