Monday, February 05, 2018

Idaho Transportation Department budget for next year includes replacing an aging state airplane

Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness makes his budget presentation to lawmakers on Monday, February 5, 2018.

The budget request for the Idaho Transportation Department for next year includes a request to replace one of the airplanes in the state’s three-plane fleet, a 45-year-old Cessna 182, “replacing an aging 45-year-old single prop airplane with a modern aircraft that will be safer for our customers,” ITD Director Brian Ness told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning. “Triple prop planes have a much better safety rating” and are better suited for use in emergencies such as search and rescue, he said.

ITD’s current fleet includes a King Air, a Cessna 206 and a Cessna 182. The King Air, which can carry 10 passengers, can be flown in all types of weather, and can reach most places in Idaho within an hour, is used the most. The Cessna 206 was purchased in 1978, can carry five passengers and is capable of carrying oversized cargo. The Cessna 182, which was purchased in 1972, can carry three passengers.

More than 40 state agencies use the state planes, ITD reports, including for emergency transportation for the Idaho State Police and the state Department of Correction; for search and rescue; for emergency transport of hazardous materials; and for non-emergency transportation of state employees.

Ness requested that the $2 million for the purchase of the plane come from the Aeronautics Fund, which comes from aviation fuel taxes, aircraft licensing fees, fines and penalties. Gov. Butch Otter recommended a $1.475 million transfer from the state general fund to the Aeronautics Fund next year, with the fund then making transfers back to the general fund annually until the transfer is fully repaid. Because of that “gymnastics,” Ness said, the budget request appears to show a total of $3.475 million, but only $2 million is being requested to buy the new plane.

JFAC members had few questions about the plane replacement during this morning’s budget hearing, though Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, asked a legislative budget analyst to explain the transfer mechanism.

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