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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Airports lose federal funding

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  • General aviation airports are facing a future without federal discretionary funding, a vital source of funds for airport projects.
    "For big projects this is a big deal," said Reid Bell, Pratt Regional Airport manager during the Airport Authority Board of Directors monthly meeting Thursday.
    The Federal Aviation Administration had used discretionary funds to fund general aviation projects.
    However, when the Sequester cut funding for operating commercial airport control towers, congress told the FAA to keep those towers open. The FAA took money from their discretionary fund to keep the towers open so it was not available for general aviation.
    Besides that shift in funds, the discretionary funding budget was also smaller this year than last so less money was available to start with, Bell said.
    While federal dollars are not available for general aviation projects, Kansas could get some financial help for general aviation projects in Kansas from the Kansas Department of Transportation aviation division.
    Formerly, KDOT grant money for aviation projects was based on population. Now it will be based on the scope of the work and not on population, Bell said.
    This will make more funds available for some Kansas Airport Improvement Projects including a new $800,000 Pratt Regional Airport pavement project for the terminal area and fuel island.
    The airport is going to start working with KDOT Monday to possibly get a grant for that pavement project.
    If a KDOT grant works out, it would be 90-10 grant with the grant covering 90 percent and the Pratt airport covering 10 percent of the cost.
    If the airport had worked with KDOT before they changed to grants based on project importance, it would have been a 75-25 split.
    The new pavement is part of the master plan for the airport. Also in the plan for the future are a new terminal building, a new fuel island and several new hangars.
    Last to be funded among those are the new hangars. They will generate their own revenue so their priority is lower, Bell said.
    The search continues for a snow removal truck for the airport will have to wait until next year. The Federal Aviation Administration grant the airport is working with only has two weeks left and the airport has not been able to find a truck that meets grant requirements.
    To meet the grant requirements, the airport has to purchase a truck that is, at least, 60 percent made in America.
    The closest the airport has been able to find in a two-year search is 54 percent made in America.
    The FAA refuses to waive the 60 percent "Buy American" requirement so the search will continue but it will have to be done next year with a different grant.
    Page 2 of 2 - A new building for the truck and other equipment is planned but the airport is not going to pursue funding for the building until they have purchased the snow removal truck.
    The airport is not going to put up a building if they don't have anything to put in it, Bell said.
    The approximate cost of the truck is $109,000.

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