Monday, February 10, 2014
 
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Fuel farm Logan County Airport's 2014 project

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[February 10, 2014]  During the January meeting of the Logan County Board Airport Committee, the primary area of discussion was the Transportation Improvement Program.

Each year the committee reviews and approves the capital improvement project to be performed during the coming year and reviews the airport's five-year plan, making modifications as needed.

Solid infrastructure is necessary to a strong economy. The federal government recognizes that airways are part of the U.S. infrastructure and highly values the benefits that the aviation system provides. Federal dollars are allocated to support capital improvements and maintenance for public airports and even some private airports.

Illinois also values the aviation system as important to the economy. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the aviation system in the state "is one of the largest and most diverse airport systems in the United States."

Federal support for airport building and maintenance projects is coupled with local and state funding. The federal grant portion usually represents 75 to 90 percent of capital improvement project costs, with the remaining portion a two-way split between state and region or local.

No local tax dollars are used to support the operation of the Logan County Airport, and no tax dollars go toward the matching portion of grants.

In general, most airports generate revenues from aircraft use fees, hangar rents, fuel sales, property or building rental, and other sources. Logan County Airport's primary revenues come from hangar rental, fuel sales and farm ground rental. These funds are used to supply matching funds for grants.

Federal assistance

Each year, Logan County qualifies for $148,000 in entitlement funds supplied by the federal government. These funds may be used in part or whole on projects in the improvement plan, or they may be carried over to pool from one year to the next to pay for higher cost projects.

Airport administrators may also apply for apportionment funds. These additional funds must meet the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration and are for important projects that meet criteria such as improving safety, capacity or noise compatibility.

State assistance

Illinois offered $6,643,615 apportionment funds for airports in 2013.

New rules for federal funding

This year there has been a new set of federal regulations on when and how apportionment funding may be used, and that led to a change in the sequence of capital improvement projects planned at the Logan County Airport for the next five years.

Committee chairman Gene Rohlfs said it was necessary to develop a new plan, different from the one agreed to last fall with the Illinois Division of Aeronautics. The new distinction is that any funds used for income-producing projects are now part of the apportionment funds. Apportionment funds can be allocated only every three years.

Apportionment funds may be applied for and added to entitlement funds. However, once apportionment funds for a profit-producing project are used, there is a mandatory three-year push-back for any other projects requiring apportionment funds.

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The Logan County Airport plans have two big projects that would be revenue producers in the five-year plan: the purchase of a new "fuel farm" -- a self-serve fuel pump station for pilots to fuel their aircraft -- and five new hangars.

Another project in the five-year plan that is timely, costly and needed is a runway overlay.

Because of the importance of upgrading the aircraft fuel delivery system, the overlay of the main runway at the airport would have to be postponed from 2015 to 2017 in order to have access to apportionment funds.

Currently, the 2013 lighting project is being completed. That project cost $535,000, with the federal government supplying over 90 percent, and the remaining portion, under 10 percent, divided equally between funds coming from the state of Illinois and revenue generated by the Logan County Airport.

Logan County Airport's revised five-year Transportation Improvement Program

  • 2014 -- Fuel delivery system upgrade, $165,000
    The current fuel delivery system has not been upgraded for years and has been prone to service interruptions.
    The sale of aircraft fuel is one of the few ways that local revenue is generated at the airport. No local tax dollars are used to support the airport.
    In addition to providing fuel for locally based aircraft, the Logan County Airport also attracts considerable traffic from outside the county for fuel purchases due to its quick and easy access, location, and prices.

  • 2015 -- No major projects
    Due to new apportionment rules, the runway overlay scheduled for 2015 would be pushed back. Crack repair would be performed on the main runway.

  • 2016 -- No major projects
    No work at the airport is scheduled for 2016 in order to save money, including a federal entitlement for the runway overlay in 2017.

  • 2017 -- Runway overlay and turn-around expansions, $600,000
    A major project, the runway asphalt overlay, would also include increasing the size of the existing turnarounds at the ends of the runway.

  • 2018 Five-place T-hangars, $330,000
    The final project of the current five-year program is the construction of new T-hangars in 2018. Because hangars are a revenue-producing project, no federal apportionment funds will be available for the following three years.

The airport committee meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday every month at the Logan County Safety Complex.

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See more on Airport Improvement Program and a list of eligible projects:
http://www.faa.gov/airports/aip/overview/

Illinois Division of Aeronautics publication on the economic impact of airport:
http://www.illinoisairportsmeanbusiness.com/
brochures/AAA.pdf

"Estimating the Regional Economic Impact of Airports":
http://www.faa.gov/airports/aip/bc_analysis/
media/economic_significance_1992.pdf

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