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Blair airport asks for money

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Altoona-Blair County Airport Authority has asked commissioners to consider allocating $104,000 toward airport improvements in 2021.

The $104,000 request, presented Tuesday during a commissioners budget session, includes $65,000 that will firm up plans for a $1.3 million runway improvement project.

It also includes $24,000 for roofing a hangar used by the airport’s fixed-based operator and $15,000 for a new fire alarm system in the airport terminal.

Manager Tracy Plessinger told commissioners that the airport is “doing fine” with addressing normal operating expenses.

It needs help, he said, with affording long-term improvements that are an investment in the facility on behalf of the county and its taxpayers.

The airport authority, with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration, has already embarked on the first phase of its proposed runway improvement project.

With money allocated by the FAA toward the project, New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc. is ready to get started in the spring on the first phase of the project. Because the work will address the airport’s crosswinds runway, the project is expected to have no impact on daily passenger flights.

To undertake the second phase of the project at $1.3 million, Plessinger said the authority will prepare and submit a FAA grant application in the spring, with money generally allocated toward fall. In asking for that grant, the FAA will look for the authority’s 5% match — $65,000 — toward the project, Plessinger said.

Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb asked Plessinger about the timing of the grant application to undertake the second phase.

“So you haven’t applied yet?” Erb said.

Plessinger said no, but indicated that the FAA’s money is expected to be available to pursue the second phase. It was the FAA, Plessinger said, which initially reviewed the project and directed that it be divided and accomplished over two fiscal years.

“If the FAA grant doesn’t come through, then we just don’t do the project,” Plessinger said.

Commissioners offered no answers to the authority’s request. They started their budget meeting with a report showing expenses estimated at $58.02 million and revenue at $54.44 million, creating a $3.57 million deficit. Their next public budget meeting is set for Nov. 17.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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