Hayden A projected $3.4 million funding gap for improvements proposed for Yampa Valley Regional Airport could triple if the airport does not receive full federal discretionary funding.
At a YVRA Advisory Board meeting Wednesday, board members and concerned residents discussed ways to fill the existing funding gap and brainstormed alternative funding sources that could be tapped if federal funds fall short as well.
While $14.4 million of the $17.8 million budgeted for improvements is expected to come from the federal government, mostly the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program, the remainder is reliant on almost $3 million in local funds and a less-certain federal source, a $375,000 Air 21 grant.
Of the $14.4 million, $12.9 million is expected from the AIP, and $1.5 million will be funded through federal passenger facility charges generated at YVRA.
Of the projected $12.9 million in AIP funding, $6.3 million is entitled funding. The other $6.6 million is discretionary funding that the FAA may or may not award. With uncertainty looming about receiving all federal monies, several in attendance at Wednesday's meeting expressed concern.
"What happens if we don't get this money?" Steamboat Springs resident Jim "Moose" Barrows asked. "There should be other sources from private or some alternative funding. We need a backup plan because the AIP funds may be short or not coming at all."
YVRA Advisory Board Chairman Ulrich Salzgeber said it was critical the airport obtain the AIP discretionary funds. If the county does not receive that money, the airport improvement project will not go on, Routt County Finance Director Dan Strnad said.
Other funding suggestions raised at the meeting included revenue bonds, increasing property or sales taxes, implementing a transportation tax or raising parking fees at YVRA, all of which would be "more secure" than discretionary funding, one resident said.
Some in attendance suggested that a tax increase likely would be turned down by voters, considering the failure of the judicial facility tax last November. Strnad said the airport was a different case.
"Here, we have a constituency that would support this," he said. "The vote would be better than for the justice center, because (the voters) understand the need better."
The five-year plan to improve the terminal building, access road, parking area and jet apron has been divided into three phases.
Phase one will cost about $940,000, but the FAA will cover 90 percent of the cost, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said.
The real concerns are with phases two and three, Sullivan said. Routt County will turn to the community to help cover the anticipated $1.9 million funding gap for phase two in 2005, and $600,000 gap for phase three in 2007.
Phase one will include expanding the cueing area for departing passengers, replacing the tents that were used last winter. Phase-one construction should be completed by December.
Phase two will consist of constructing a new ticket wing at the west end of the terminal building and new jet apron. Phase three will consist of expanding the baggage claim area and replacing the current ticket counter space with a second mechanized baggage claim belt.
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