published Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Jetport shortfall?: Authority moves to collect pledged money

From left, Crystal Air certified A&P mechanics Hank Haney, Kyle Kennedy and Chris Stephens service a jet at Cleveland Regional Jetport.
From left, Crystal Air certified A&P mechanics Hank Haney, Kyle Kennedy and Chris Stephens service a jet at Cleveland Regional Jetport.
Photo by Paul Leach.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — After opening the Cleveland Regional Jetport less than two months ago, airport authority officials are hoping to get the facility's operating budget off the ground.

On Friday, the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority mapped plans to address a possible budget shortfall of $141,000 for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The authority's budget projects $390,000 in revenues for the airport but $531,000 in expenses.

Officials agreed to work on collecting $300,000 in donations from businesses and individuals for the jetport. The airport authority has received less than $20,000 of those pledges.

"The pledge receipts are very important," authority Chairwoman Lynn DeVault said. She asked that notices be sent to donors as soon as possible.

Vice Chairman Lou Patten said not all pledges will be funded this year because some money was pledged in five-year installments.

More money will come from airport tenants, some of whom already are moving their aircraft from soon-to-close Hardwick Field. Others haven't said whether or when they plan to move their planes, authority member Leroy Rymer said.

"It's like herding cats," Rymer said.

DeVault asked Cleveland Financial Director William Watson to research whether the airport will receive credit for generating increased personal property taxes from hangar leases.

The airport recently received $865,000 in grants for maintenance and development, said Mark Fidler, director of operations. The funds include $805,750 in federal funds and a local match of $59,250.

The money is split into three grants: $80,000 to buy grounds maintenance equipment, $750,000 to create the infrastructure for hangar construction on the southern side of the site and $35,000 for tree cutting.

Efforts are being made to get the jetport on the map as soon as possible, Fidler said. Five GPS-based flight approaches to the facility are in the works, and the airfield is expected to be listed in the National Flight Data Center, he said.

The jetport continues to draw new flight and foot traffic, said Taylor Newman, director of operations for Crystal Air, which provides operational services for it and Hardwick Field.

He estimated the airport receives two planes a day on average, but 17 aircraft landed last Saturday. Some were jets that could not have landed at Hardwick Field, he said.

Newman proposed an open house on April 27, with a rain date of May 4.

Fidler said Hardwick Field's community hangar will be closed by April 1 and the entire field is expected to close before the end of July.

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