Thursday, December 17, 2015

City cuts Pine Bluff Regional Airport/Grider Field (KPBF) budget

After a 1.5 percent reduction, the City of Pine Bluff approved the 2016 budget for the Pine Bluff Regional Airport. According to airport manager, Doug Hale, the request for the budget change came as a result of a decrease in the city’s revenue. Dale says this isn’t the first year the airport’s budget has had to adjust to the city’s lack of revenue.

“In the last couple of years, all departments have been asked to reduce their budget because the city’s revenue is down,” Hale said. “We have revenue that comes in. However, it doesn’t cover all the expenses that we have.”

The airport’s projected budget for 2016 is $352, 950 and of that, $128, 800 will be supplemented by the City of Pine Bluff. Despite having low revenue, it hasn’t stopped the airport from applying to grants requiring match funds from the city for repairs to upgrades.

“For the city as a total, getting match money for grants from [them] has been difficult,” he said. “It’s not because the city doesn’t want to support the airport, it’s just because of a reduction in revenue for the city as a whole. The city has been helpful in supporting the commission to make upgrades to the airport “

Thursday, the aviation commission board members voted in their monthly meeting to submit a grant proposal to the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics for a 80/20 grant that will allow them to remove and re-install skylights. If approved, the city will have to pay $1,357 out of $5,428.00 instead of shouldering 100 percent of the costs. The grant will provide a total of 36 new skylights to the airport.

“We, the commission, have been able to make a lot of improvements on the airport by applying for those Arkansas Department of Aeronautics grants,” he said. “Those ADA grants have been used for asphalt upgrades. That pavement was chopped up and was in very poor condition.”

Hale says the board will not know whether they received the grant until January. However, he urged in the meeting that the skylights needed to be changed soon.

“They are leaking and need to be replaced,”he said. “I got up on [hangar] 9 and made some temporary repairs just to hopefully keep things from blowing off in the wind. They’re to that point.”

The skylights aren’t the only things getting replaced at the airport. The committee is close to approving a new sign concept for the entrance to the airport. The estimated cost of the sign, which includes installation, lighting and a garden is $5,000. The sign that is there now will be moved to the south end of the airport so that there are two signs on the premises.

“It’s the first impression people get of the city,” said Pine Bluff Regional Airport aviation commissioner Kenneth W. Johnson. “We’d like for our sign to be a better representation of Pine Bluff and the people here.”

Pine Bluff Airport aviation commission chairman, Leon Scallion, says the airport is the central hub and they are trying to move the airport into a new direction.

“We’ve done a lot of work to the airport,” he said. “We’ve got a totally different image. We want a new sign that’s fitting.”

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