City forecasts $11.7M budget in 2015

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City forecasts $11.7M budget in 2015

Budget approval is due Dec. 15
Airport hopes to avoid budgetary crash

Officials have been warned that daily operations at the Cortez Municipal Airport have exceeded expenditures for the year.
Airport manager Russ Machen made the announcement last month during a 2015 city council budget workshop. Unless additional revenues were generated, Machen said, the airport would continue operating in the red in the immediate future.
To correct the airport’s direction, city council members subsequently adopted a revenue enhancement schedule to help close the annual $25,000 shortfall. The measure includes increased airline landing fees, hangar rentals and land lease tolls.
City Manager Shane Hale said the airport would not require any loans from the general fund to remain afloat, saying, “The airport is still self-sustaining.”
Despite the silver lining in the clouds, Machen said the airport’s lean financials would delay capital improvement projects planned for next year, including firefighting equipment upgrades.
“We have a flat budget moving forward,” said Machen.
Machen also reminded city leaders that Great Lakes Airlines recently received $2.2 million in federal welfare to operate three daily flights from the airport for the next two years. It’s unknown if the airline will receive additional Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidies beyond July 2016.
“We’re on a watch list,” said Machen, “but we won’t loose the EAS funds anytime soon.”
Machen added Great Lakes Airlines was currently non-compliant with minimum EAS requirements, citing the business only offered two daily flights from Cortez. Fewer flights have compounded the cash-strapped airport, which experienced a 13 percent reduction in fuel sales this year.
For the year, revenues at the airport total more than $680,000. In 2013, revenues totaled more than $2.4 million. Next year’s budgeted revenues are forecast at just under $240,000.
Municipal airport appropriations are also slated to drop from about $1 million in 2014 to slightly more than $525,000 in 2015.
tbaker@cortezjournal.com

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