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County slashes airport budget request
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Warren County Memorial Airport had its proposed budget for fiscal year 2015-16 cut by $325,000 by members of the county’s Budget and Finance Committee.
Members met Tuesday and once again reviewed the airport’s request for funding. Discussion was tabled earlier in the month in order to ask airport manager Richard Crawford to attend a meeting and explain why the airport needed an additional $344,000 this year, from $317,000 given last year to $661,000 requested this year.
The items cut from the budget were requests for $25,000 for “rental home removal” and $250,000 for “runaway expansion” which is 10 percent of a $2.5 million grant the airport received for the project. An additional $50,000 for the construction of a maintenance shed was “tabled” until after the county’s financial outlook for the upcoming year could be determined.
When it came to the shed, Crawford says all the hangars are full and storage is needed for equipment.
“The reason for this, and it’s a good reason, is all of our hangars at this time are full,” Crawford said. “In previous years, we’ve had empty space to put our maintenance equipment. We have a lot of equipment that we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into over the years. Since my hangars are full now, I have nowhere for this equipment to be housed. This equipment is going to end up sitting out in the weather in the elements. I have a feeling it’s going to become poor-natured equipment if we don’t house it somehow.”
The airport is asking the county for $50,000, but the building’s estimated cost could be closer to $170,000.
Crawford says part of the remaining funds needed will come from $80,000 the county has saved in an account and restricted for airport use.
“We have money left over from land that was purchased or bought from the airport several years ago. It’s $80,000 or $81,000. The money must be used for the airport,” said Crawford.
Centertown Volunteer Fire Department will use the shed as well. Crawford says the department will fund its portion of the shed.
“We are building a shed that will be 100 feet by 60 feet,” said Crawford. “What we will do is give 40 foot to the fire department so they can store their fire engines.”
Committee members unanimously voted to remove the cost for the shed and reconsider it once the county’s finances for the upcoming fiscal year are known.
The request for $25,000 for rental home removal was stricken.
“We still have two rental homes,” said Crawford, in explaining the request. “These homes are in poor condition. I’m at the point where I’m putting in HVACs. I’m putting in water heaters. I’m going to be putting on new roofs soon. It’s to the point where we are spending more money than we are bringing in with the rental homes. And, over the last few years, the renters in the homes have not been paying their bills. I spoke to my commission about it and we would like to see the homes destroyed.”
Committee members suggested the buildings, both located on Airport Lake Road, be placed up for auction with the stipulation they be removed at the expense of the new owners. The committee voted unanimously to remove the $25,000 and try auctioning.
This is the second year the airport has requested $250,000 from the county as a grant match to the $2.5 million. County Executive Herschel Wells questioned why the airport is requesting $250,000 even though the project hasn’t begun.
“The reason I asked for the runway extension money last year and this year is because if we get to a point when we can move forward, after the land purchase and after the road is turned over to the county by the state, we can start.  When we come to the point where those two things are complete, we can move forward with our project rather than waiting until the next fiscal year to budget for it. I’m just trying to look ahead.”
Committee members unanimously approved removing the $250,000 from the airport’s budget.
The airport budget must still receive approval from the Financial Management Committee and full Warren County Commission.