Faa Pulls $850,000 In Airport Funds; Council Asks Why

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The Payson Town Council approved a motion Monday to ask the Federal Aviation Administration why it voided $850,000 worth of airport improvement grants.

A second part of that motion directed town staff to apply $30,000 out of town's $150,000 annual FAA allocation money toward the design of an airport safety project.

Mayor Bob Edwards and the other six members of the town council said they're waiting for an official response from the FAA regarding the withdrawal of the grant, but haven't yet received one.

Airport Manager Ted Anderson said the FAA's letter might address the town's potential inability to receive future grants.

The council, said Edwards, won't tolerate the FAA's bullying. The agency, he said shouldn't dictate the town's decision to choose its airport projects.

"Bring it on," Edwards said. "We'll take them to task."

The FAA's wholesale withdrawal of the grant money is the result of the council's partial rejection of the original grant.

On May 10, Anderson received a letter from the FAA, notifying the town that the agency had tentatively allocated $850,000 for three specific airport projects pending council approval.

Those items showed up on the council's June 22 agenda.

During that meeting, the council authorized a $30,000 FAA grant to Z&H Engineering to design the Echo Apron expansion project, which brings the airport into FAA safety compliance.

Two other proposals -- the relocation of a taxiway and a related service road -- fell to council disapproval.

The combined taxiway project grant equaled $605,210, according to Anderson's council proposal, including Payson's 2.5-percent matching contribution.

At the time, the council considered it a low priority.

But Monday, members of the council discovered a kink. When they voted against the taxiway relocation in June, Vogel said, he and the other councilors believed the projects, including the Echo expansion, were separately funded.

"The package was presented as three different grants," Vogel said.

In actuality, Anderson told the council, the projects fell under one grant.

As a result, the FAA squeezed Payson out of its grant money, forcing the town to use its annual $150,000 entitlement for the design and construction of the Echo Apron expansion.

Air travel surcharges fund entitlement money, awarded to general-aviation facilities that follow a capital improvement plan.

The town will apply the remaining $120,000 balance, after it pays $30,000 for the design phase, and the upcoming 2007 fiscal year entitlement toward the $290,000 construction project.

-- To reach Felicia Megdal call 474-5251 ext. 116 or e-mail fmegdal@payson.com.

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