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Formula change good for airport

Formula change good for airport

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Everett-Stewart Regional Airport’s nearly $3.9 million 2012-13 budget was officially approved by the airport board this week. The three-page spending plan includes nearly $2.6 million in state funding and nearly $492,000 in federal funding, along with nearly $16,000 in local fund balances.
The good news for the airport board is the funding formula for airport projects is changing from 90 percent federal funding to 95 percent federal funding, which means the local match for new airport projects will drop from 10 to 5 percent. Considering the large amount of projects under way and planned at the local airport, the funding formula change will have a positive impact on the airport budget.
Included in the airport’s 2012-13 budget was a $1,000 bonus for airport manager Jo Ann Speer, who has been with the airport for five years, and a 2 percent raise for the airport’s three part-time employees.
There was considerable discussion about the new budget at the airport board’s meeting Thursday morning. Board members questioned some of the details of the budget, but ultimately approved the spending plan by a unanimous vote.
Thursday’s hour-and-15-minute meeting also included an update from airport consultant Randy Hudgings on 11 current projects.
Work on a new taxilane connector and drainage improvements at the airport are scheduled to start Monday and the project is expected to be completed within 30 days.
A $356,229 bid from John Allen Construction of Henry County was accepted by the board to build a new multiple-unit hangar at the airport. The Allen bid was the lowest bid received to build the new hangar, which will be capable of handling five aircraft.
Hudgings’ report covered two pages and included updates on the other projects going on at the airport.
He announced a $421,440 state grant has been approved for work on the airfield’s electrical system and he reported construction should begin on a new ag-hangar project by late September. The airport will advertise for bids for the new ag-hangar project in mid-August and the project is scheduled to be completed by late November.
There is also a $410,000 pavement maintenance project that came up during Thursday’s meeting. State aeronautics officials have pledged to “fast track” the project but have not actually approved any funding. The local match is expected to be 5 percent of the total (about $20,500, which would be split between Obion and Weakley counties). The board voted to give board chairman Dr. Chris Gooch the authority to work with Hudgings on getting the project moving forward while the airport waits on state approval.
Dr. Gooch called the project a “very unusual situation” but there was a sense that the project will be funded by the state in the near future. The state is also handling the striping of the runway at Everett-Stewart Regional Airport as well as all other airports across the state.
There is a third major hangar project in the works at the local airport — in addition to Waggoner’s hangar and the ag-hangar project. A new 80-foot-by-80-foot box hangar that has been estimated to cost about $610,000 is being planned at the airport. The project would fall under the 95-5 funding formula (meaning the local match for the project would be about $30,000, which would be split between Obion and Weakley counties). There is also hope that some Vision 100 federal funding might be available to help finance the hangar construction.
The airport will actually own the new multiple-unit hangar and the new box hangar that will be used by Waggoner.
“This is what the airport is here for,” airport board member Mike Holman said, referring to the maintenance hangar for Waggoner. “This is the kind of business we want. So we’ve got to do something for him.”
In other action, the airport board:
• Briefly discussed the possible need to review and make some changes to the airport’s minimum standards. Concerns were raised at the meeting about some pilots and tenants not abiding by the current minimum standards. The concerns involved hangars being used for general storage and non-aviation vehicles being driven into the hangar areas, both of which run afoul of the airport’s minimum standards.
• Announced the board will not meet in August. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 a.m. Sept. 27.
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Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 7.27.12

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