By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Madison County Airport officials are waiting for a thumbs-up from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to move forward with construction of a new hangar.
The airport’s existing hangars are near capacity, with about 50 planes stored on site. Another hangar would serve as an added revenue source, generating money through rent and fuel sales.
The airport expects to receive word from the FAA by the end of October. In the meantime, they spoke with the Madison County commissioners on Sept. 30 about funding the 10 percent match required for the project.
Bill Laney, president of the airport authority board, said the cost to build the new hangar will be about $450,000. Each year, the airport receives $150,000 from the FAA for capital improvements. The airport currently has $562,000 in FAA funds.
The airport authority board plans to cover 90 percent of the hangar cost with FAA funds. They asked the commissioners to contribute the 10 percent local match from the county’s general fund.
Commissioner Paul Gross said he’d rather see the county loan the 10 percent to the airport, with the airport then repaying the loan with the increased revenues it will realize in hangar rent and fuel sales.
“Those revenues go into the airport fund, which does not help all 43,000 residents of the county,” Gross said, stat-ing that the loan is a better use of taxpayers’ money than an outright appropriation from the general fund.
Laney countered, saying the buildings are county-owned and, therefore, county funding is appropriate for the match. Sandra Ballard, airport authority board treasurer, noted that outside of capital improvements, the airport is self-sustaining, receiving no money from the county for operations.
Gross stood firm on the loan idea. Commissioners Mark Forrest and David Dhume agreed. They cited examples of other projects in the county that are using funding methods other than direct appropriations from the county’s general fund. The cost of the new municipal court building, now under construction, is primarily covered by fines collected from law violators over the years. The new water tower project slated for I-70 and Route 42 likely will involve a loan arrangement that will be paid back with fees collected from water users near the tower.
Gross said the county could loan the airport the $45,000 needed for the hangar project match at a low interest rate, likely around 3.5 percent, as set by the county treasurer.
Laney said he is fairly confident the FAA will approve the hangar project. The only reason they wouldn’t is if they deem the airport’s runway in need of upgrades. Should that happen, the airport authority has a Plan B and a Plan C for using FAA funding in 2014.
Plan B would be to embark on a $500,000 runway rehabilitation project. Plan C would be to spend roughly $65,000 on designing a new hangar or a new runway in anticipation of completing one or the other at a later date, purchasing a standby generator system, and sealing runway cracks.
If the airport authority must go with its second or third options, Laney noted that the projects would be meant more for improving safety than generating revenue. He asked the commissioners if, in these cases, the county would provide matching funding straight from the general fund. Gross said they would “look at it again.”
This summer, the commissioners supplied a direct 10 percent match for a new automated weather observation system at the airport. The system is one of several improvements the airport has made this year. Also completed were renovations of the rental house and the terminal building, most of which was done in-house and with airport fund money.
Ballard informed the commissioners that the roof on one of the hangars needs to be replaced. The cost is estimated at $40,000. With a large outlay of cash last month for fuel and a delay in receiving grant disbursements from the FAA, the airport’s cash balance cannot easily accommodate the roof repair at this time, she said. The commissioners agreed to loan the airport half of the roof cost. The airport authority board plans to pay the other half.
The Madison County Airport is located at 1281 U.S. Route 40 SW, London. For more information, call (740) 852-5040 or go to http://co.madison.oh.us/airport/.