Town Needs To Examine Airport Spending

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Editor:

As a concerned Payson citizen and pilot, it is my opinion the Town of Payson has done a complete turn about in their thinking regarding the airport expense issues.

Not too long ago the town went to great lengths studying airport operations and town expenses related directly to the airport. The general consensus was that the airport should become self-sufficient as soon as possible.

Increasing hangar rents and landing fees seemed the only solution. Some of the fee increases will force the Payson Airport to charge more for these services than airports in the Phoenix metro area.

Now, suddenly, the airport manager wants to add two and a half more employees to his staff at an annual expense of $71,210. This figure was taken from the new Staffing Requests Budget -- Fiscal Year 2006/07.

The airport manager also wants a new and larger office, which would include a pilots' lounge. We are happy with the pilots' lounge that already exists at the airport fuel station.

Speaking for myself and other pilots here in Payson, we think this is a gross mismanagement of town funds. Another expense I feel should be closely examined is the salary of the airport manager. A salary range, according to the Federal Aviation Administrations Web site http:// ast.faa.gov/education/careers/aviation_salary.htm, is between $18,000 to $30,000 a year. I understand the Payson airport manager is being paid somewhere around $80,000 a year plus the use of a car and other benefits. Provided these figures are correct, it appears to me the town is paying above and beyond the industry standard for an airport manager as well.

These proposed expenses would simply set the self-sufficiency goal back even further. The fact is, the Payson Airport cannot afford these expenses, which seem to be only administrative in nature.

The airport, instead, needs employees who will roll up their sleeves and do a little "hands on" work for the necessary expenses needed such as re-striping the runway.

Gary Reed, Payson

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