City officials are keeping their fingers crossed that a surplus in projected state revenue this year could result in funding of local airport projects.
Freeman Municipal Airport Manager Don Furlow and the Seymour Airport Authority have requested state lawmakers consider funding three facilities projects totaling $3.35 million.
Those projects include improving the airport terminal by building out the second level, constructing a corporate hangar for storing business jets and other aircraft and constructing a 10-unit T-hangar to lease to private aircraft owners.
Katie England, the airport’s representative with Butler, Fairman and Seufert Inc. engineering firm in Indianapolis, said the statewide association Aviation Indiana informed its members last week of the possibility the state would have additional funding that might be available for airports.
As the state comes out of its current budget session, lawmakers are debating what to do with that money, which is a result of improved state tax collections and federal stimulus money, she said.
England did not know how much money could be available.
The turnaround time for submitting a request was very quick, leaving officials little time to come up with ideas and a proposal.
“They asked for a response by Friday,” England said. “So we helped Seymour put together a request for that.”
The requests had to be for one-time projects and not for programs.
It was her understanding budget negotiations took place over the weekend, but she was unaware of the results of those discussions.
“We’re hoping that the request is going to be a positive one for Seymour,” she said.
Airport Authority President Brian Thompson said their first funding option would be to improve the terminal building for pilots and visitors by finishing the upstairs.
The terminal was built in 2007, and at that time, the authority had plans for the second floor to be used for a restaurant, but those plans never materialized due to lack of funding. The space was never completed and has remained empty for the past 14 years.
Thompson said the estimated cost to finish out the second floor is $350,000 and could increase the airport’s revenue through leasing the space out to a tenant or renting it out as a private event space.
The second request is for $2 million to build a 120-by-100-foot corporate hangar to help meet a need for storage for an increased number of corporate aircraft flying in and out of Seymour.
Thompson said the airport has received requests from companies looking for such amenities to support their business travel.
The final request the airport included was $1 million for a 10-unit T-hangar to lease to owners of privately owned aircraft. Thompson said if built, the facility would resemble the airport’s current T-hangars.
With the completion of the Runway 5-23 shift and extension project last year, there has been an increased interest in and community support for improving the airport and its facilities, Furlow said. Upgrading the terminal building and constructing two new hangars would help meet the growing demand at the airport, he added.
Thompson said the goal was to come up with projects that likely won’t receive funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has funded improvements to airport infrastructure such as runways, taxiways and aprons.
“Facilities are way at the bottom,” he said. “We really don’t expect to get FAA funding for them anyway, so here’s a chance to fill that gap that we can’t get from the FAA.”
The airport receives no local tax money, either, as all of its revenue comes from federal grants along with income generated from airport-owned property leased to industrial tenants and farm ground in the Freeman Field Industrial Park.
Both Thompson and authority member Scott Davis have been in contact with State Rep. Jim Lucas and State Sen. Eric Koch, who represent Jackson County, about submitting the requests.
“I feel very confident that was done,” Thompson said. “Maybe in a week or so, we’ll find out if anything comes of that.”
England said she thought the legislative session was scheduled to wrap up by the end of the month.