The Pratt Airport Authority Board of Directors is seeking more funding to compensate for reduced revenues from fewer tenants because of the depressed oil and gas industry.
By Gale Rose
The future for additional funds from Pratt County for the Pratt Regional Airport depends on the county budget that is under construction. Reid Bell, Pratt Regional Airport manager, said he had met with the commissioners and asked for additional funding last year and they were unable to help because of a lack of revenue. They said they would reconsider this year and they would let the airport know when the budget was set.
The Kansas Department of Transportation Division of Aviation, through the Federal Aviation Administration, had a consulting firm conduct an economic impact study of every airport in the state. According to the report, the economic impact of Pratt Regional Airport on the community is $60 million.
The airport is home to several industrial and agricultural businesses that employ over 200. Several businesses make use of the airport including the city, Pratt Community College, Pratt Regional Medical Center, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and others.
Since the airport contributes a substantial amount to the community, the airport feels it should get some financial assistance from the county, Bell said.
The airport authority has approved a resolution requesting an additional mil to bring their total mil levy to four. There is a state statute that allows the airport, that is a taxing entity, to ask for up to four mils. The airport already gets three mils.
Bell said with the downturn in the oil and gas industry, the airport has lost tenants, including Red Man that was lost recently, and it has reduced their revenue to the point that they will probably have to go into their savings to balance their budget even if they get the additional mil.
Right now, the airport has 30 businesses.
The airport has been trying to sell the former John Deere building and is currently making payments to them. They considered a loan to make payments but decided against it and will continue to look for a possible buyer. They did have a little interest in the building but it did not come through.
They have had some interest in the Red Man building.
The airport is one of the taxing entities that supports reinstating the neighborhood revitalization plan. The airport and some of the airport tenants have benefited from the plan that currently sits on the state attorney general's desk for approval.