City to reimburse airport $25,000 for dirt work for new hangars|[05/07/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Vicksburg Municipal Airport will receive a $25,000 reimbursement from city funds for dirt work that was begun to construct rental hangars on the site at U.S. 61 South. While Mayor Laurence Leyens and South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman told the airport’s board Tuesday that the city would move forward with providing the hangars, the board will have to use most of the reimbursement to offset the high cost of aviation and jet fuel that is causing the facility to “go broke,” said airport board secretary Jay Kilroy.

“We’re low on cash, which is problematic,” he said.

“The board is going to be without money if we keep going down this road.”

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The civil aviation facility purchases fuel for resale and uses the income for operations.

In this month’s meeting, airport officials said they were at a loss on how to resupply tanks because their cash flow had evaporated. Kilroy said not only has the price of fuel been an obstacle, sales are down because fewer people are flying.

“This is the first time we’ve asked the city for money,” he said.

Adding the hangar, a plan that’s been in the works for years, will increase the income at the airport and decrease the board’s burden of relying on fuel sales for income, Kilroy said.

“It could give us the potential of having more aircraft. And, (income) is not all directly related to fuel sales,” he said.

The city has agreed to construct a building that will provide individual spaces for 10 small planes.

The T-hangars will be divided by walls to provide each plane with an exclusive, interior room. Kilroy said the building could cost up to $750,000 and will require the city to take the specifications the board has researched and advertise for bids.

“We told them to give us their specifications, and we’ll work on getting the T-hangars,” Leyens said.

Other improvements to the airport are also in the works. The board was approved for a $1.3 million grant from the Delta Regional Authority to fund the construction of a new terminal and Vicksburg Fire Department station at the airport. They are awaiting the contract to receive those funds.

They are also waiting to hear whether they will receive $140,000 from the Mississippi Department of Transportation that would fund construction of a fuel farm on the property.

After a near death in the mid-1990s, Vicksburg Airport garnered new life when city officials committed to keeping it opened.

The board-led airport, then, began lobbying for state and federal funds and received a $650,000 state grant that went toward runway repairs.

In addition to the municipal airport, Vicksburg, along with Warren County, Madison Parish and Tallulah, helps fund a regional civil airport at Mound, 8 miles west of the Vicksburg airport.