County to seek city funds

Keeping Yampa Valley Regional Airport afloat

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners is preparing to file a flight plan that would seek $100,000 from the city of Steamboat Springs in 2002 to help subsidize operations and capital projects at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The commissioners would like to see that amount increase in coming years.

The commissioners are still working with Airport Manager Jim Parker and County Manager Tom Sullivan on the language of a letter seeking airport funding from the city and haven't settled on the final amount they will ask for.

But $100,000 is the amount that was discussed by commissioners Nancy Stahoviak and Doug Monger during a meeting on Monday. Commissioner Dan Ellison was not present.

The letter is being drafted in time for consideration in the city's budgeting process, which is about to actively begin.

The commissioners agree that the airport is becoming increasingly cash poor, and they need to put a cap on how much cash they take out of the county budget each year to ensure the airport will break even.

"We're going to draw the line on what's coming out of the general fund and going into the airport," Stahoviak said. "How important is it for the ski corp., the city and the chamber to keep this thing open? It's going to have to come from landing fees or additional parties who agree to help us out. We're not the main benefactors of the destination travelers the other entities in the county are."

Stahoviak said Monday it's clear to her that the city, by virtue of its 4.5 percent sales tax, enjoys a greater benefit from the tourists who arrive at the county's airport, than does the county.

Routt County collects a single point of sales tax. Stahoviak is suggesting that in its 2002 budget, the county budget no more than 10 percent of its sales tax revenues for a cash subsidy to the airport. This year, that 10 percent of budgeted sales tax revenues would have been just under $360,000. Any more monies to fund the airport will have to come from somewhere else, Stahoviak insists.

The cash subsidy needed to help Yampa Valley Regional Airport balance its books at the end of 2000 wasn't nearly as costly as the county commissioners had once anticipated.

But the commissioners are still expressing wariness about the turbulence ahead in the airport's fiscal picture.

They say budget projections show the airport's working capital is in peril of going negative by the end of this year, and have already transferred a cash subsidy of $450, 575 to the general fund. The commissioners learned April 17 that by the end of 2000, they'd transferred $111,300 from the county's general fund to make revenues and expenses at the airport zero out.

That's more than $350,000 less than the commissioners were prepared to spend when they drew up the 2000 budget. The $350,000 the county did not need to transfer to the airport, remained in its 2000 general fund. The $113,000 cash subsidy is in addition to almost $208,000 in "county overhead," including the time of various department heads and staffers, devoted to operating the airport.

Accounting Manager Margot Gasch told the commissioners Monday that the airport needed less of a cash infusion than it might have last year because revenues, including those from concessions, came in approximately $89,000 ahead of budget.

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