Airport will accept funding from the feds
January 30, 2006
After three months of debate, the Truckee Tahoe Airport board has decided it will accept money from the Federal Aviation Administration.The board voted 4-1 on Thursday morning to take approximately $450,000 from the FAA. Federal funding, offered to airports across the country, comes with stipulations called “grant assurances.” Some of those stipulations require that airports do not discriminate against users and remain a link in the national transportation network.The airport board invited aviation attorney Peter Kirsch to a board meeting last year to learn about the pros and cons of “de-federalizing” the airport. Some members of the board wondered if the airport could have more flexibility in determining its future by not accepting the federal money.But on Thursday, the board accepted the Airport Improvement Program funding, which amounts to $150,000 a year. Since the airport has not used that money over the last three years, the total funding available is $450,000, which will likely be used on capital projects.Airport board president Steve Swigard said he was happy to have the federal funding issue, which had spurred controversy, behind him.”Until that funding stream was resolved, it was hard to move forward with a business plan,” said Swigard.The federal funding allows the airport to have a balanced business plan, Swigard said.”Without FAA support, the airport would just be able to maintain the asphalt,” Swigard said.Board member Mary Hetherington voted against the funding, not because she opposed accepting federal funding, but because she thought the board still had time to explore the implications of accepting the funds, she said.”The money doesn’t fall off the table until Oct. 1,” Hetherington said. “In some respects I think it was premature to accept the funding.”Hetherington said she was in favor of waiting for the Airport Community Advisory Team to make recommendations to the board. The advisory team is a volunteer group set up to explore ways the airport can reduce impacts to the surrounding community.”I want to see some forward motion in terms of mitigation measures for the community,” said Hetherington.The Truckee Tahoe Airport has kept on board aviation attorneys Kaplan, Kirsch and Rockwell, who have consulted with the board on the FAA funding issue.The airport has paid the law firm less than $200 to date, said airport General Manager Dave Gotschall. But the board may consult their expertise on a variety of issues in the future, he said.”They are probably the preeminent aviation lawyers in the country,” said Gotschall.