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Legislature Accepts State Airport Grant

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Legislature Accepts State Airport Grant

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Legislature, by unanimous vote, accepted the $14.2 million Upstate Airport Development Grant recently awarded by New York State and committed to assuming full responsibility for all additional project costs.  The project will expand the terminal by approximately one-third, update terminal systems, and enhance security, as well as construct a federal customs inspection facility.  The solar-powered airport will employ a new geothermal heat pump system, with solar covered parking constructed as part of the project. 

While total cost was projected two years ago at just over $22 million, Airport Director Mike Hall, in a detailed presentation to the Legislature, reported that current 2018 cost projections have increased the estimated total cost to $24.8 million, increasing the anticipated local share to 10.5 million (from $7.8 million).  Director Hall said $2.5 million in Airport revenue, from federal sources and the Airport fund balance, is already committed and that the remaining $8 million County obligation can be supported through pending potential grant proceeds and financing based on Airport passenger facility charges.

There were a number of questions from Legislators regarding financial aspects, including such factors as projected operating costs of a larger facility, projected revenue, potential costs, cash flow dynamics, how passenger facility charges work, and what might be needed in terms of potential use of Airport fund balance or debt service.  County Administrator Jason Molino told Legislators, “I think you have the best estimate you can have based on the information you have,” that he feels comfortable and confident in moving forward. 

Legislator Rich John said, “This is a very forward-looking project that will project an image that Tompkins County is a place to come to.”  While Director Hall continued to stress that this project is the result of an effective team effort, Legislator Deborah Dawson told him, “This was your vision in the beginning, and I want to thank you for that.”  Construction is expected to begin later this year, and must be completed by the fall of 2019.