With a $17.6 million price tag for renovations and additions to Yampa Valley Regional Airport over the next five years, the YVRA Advisory Board is requesting public comment to help identify means to finance $3.4 million funding gap.
The YVRA Advisory Board will seek this input in a public meeting at 2 p.m. today in the County Com-missioners meeting room.
This will be a brainstorming discussion to find ways to finance improvements to the passenger terminal, the construction of a new jet apron, moving parking lots and realigning roads, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said.
The improvements include a 4,300-square-foot ticket counter expansion, which the Routt County Board of Commissioners approved this year; a new ticketing wing and curbside, road realignment and a new jet apron and de-icing pads in 2005; remodeling the holding and baggage claim areas and parking lot improvements in 2006.
The apron is a parking lot for jets. The current apron does not meet Federal Aviation Administration regulations, because tail fins on some of the larger jets, such as 757s, extend too far into the safety zone around the runway.
"We have some legitimate needs for funding from the federal government but we need to convince them of that," Sullivan said. "What we need to figure out tomorrow is what we can do on the local level."
Andy Wirth, YVRA Advisory Board member and vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., agrees with Sullivan that YVRA could get more funding from the federal level, and said he believes those funds could be more aggressively sought.
Wirth said he has several ideas for funding solutions, such as passing a special taxing district for the airport.
"I think any idea is going to be entertained and evaluated," Wirth said. "I'm just pleased to see that we're reaching out for input.
"Finding solutions aren't the most important thing. The most important thing is that we're finally getting together to start this project after 10 years of planning," he said.
Wirth said many facets of the airport are sufficient or even outstanding, but the terminal has kept the airports business "strangulated."
In March, YVRA officials were negotiating with US Airways for flight service out of eastern hubs. A senior team from US Airways toured the airport and confirmed Wirth's thoughts.
"I'll never forget these words," Wirth said. "They said: 'We fly into third world countries that have better airports than this.' They were shocked that a resort in a valley like ours would have an airport terminal like ours."
The funding gap for airport improvements exists because revenue generated by YVRA is insufficient to provide all the funding for the cost of the project, Sullivan said.
YVRA will provide most of the money for the project from passenger facility charges, while other funds will come from the county's airport-allocated funds. Sullivan said the airports annual $420,000 of funding to YVRA and 12 percent of county sales tax revenues also will help fund the project.