SCOTTSBLUFF — The Airport Authority of Scotts Bluff County met in special session Monday so a quorum would be available to approve the 2019-2020 budget for Western Nebraska Regional Airport.
Dana Weber, a certified public accountant, presented the budget. Weber said the airport authority is requesting a budget of $1,221,095 in real and personal property tax to support operations and acquisitions for the next fiscal year. It includes $159,800 for bond repayment.
The numbers are based on Scotts Bluff County’s total property valuation of just over $3 billion.
“As a political subdivision under the umbrella of the county, we’re limited to a 3.5-cent increase per $100 dollars of valuation,” Weber said. “Our restricted fund authority for operations can only be increased by 1% a year. The only other way to increase that amount is by a vote of the people.”
Weber said that while the federal government makes funds available for facility and runway improvements, the county must come up with a 10% match, which can be substantial. “You don’t want to pass up a million dollars, but you’d better have $100,000 available to get the project completed.”
The board voted unanimously to approve the new budget.
In other action, the board decided to not hold Tammy Relka, operator of the Flight Deck Restaurant, to the 60-day termination notice in her new contract, signed earlier this year.
“I realize they’re trying to operate a second restaurant,” said Airport Manager Raul Aguallo. “We’d be happy to let them out of their contract early without any repercussions. Tammy has done a good job for us and we’ll miss her.”
Relka told board members she wished things could have been different because their goal was always to keep The Flight Deck open as well as their new Sizzlin’ Sirloin Steakhouse in Terrytown.
“It’s pretty hard when we lost $10,000 in six months because we couldn’t negotiate hours,” Relka said. “We started losing money as soon as we started offering breakfast and I learned that breakfast just doesn’t work here. That’s the main reason we decided to close.”
Aguallo reported on his trip to Kansas City to meet with Federal Aviation Administration officials about the runways at the airport. Joining them was the new director from the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics Department of Transportation Division.
“I made a strong argument for keeping our runway,” Aguallo said. “They asked us to present some other options for runway 523, but all of them would be more expensive than our recommendation to keep the pavement at its current width.”
Both runways 1230 and 523 are scheduled for new striping and sealcoat. FAA officials determined the stripes on runway 523 were deficient and didn’t meet current requirements.
After airport officials asked, the FAA did offer to pick up 90% of the $45,000 cost of the work. Some of the work will be done overnight after the airport has closed to air traffic in order to take advantage of the remaining warm days.
Aguallo reported the airport also suffered close to a million dollars in damage from recent hailstorms. The skylights will probably have to be replaced. They were replaced after a hailstorm incident in 2011.
Roof damage will also need to be repaired, requiring the replacement of several thousand square feet of ceiling tile.