Special to The Sun
While other airports across the state could be hit hard due the looming $85 billion in federal budget cuts, the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport should escape relatively unscathed — at least for the time being.
Justin Heid, GERA airport manager, said GERA is in good shape because its current construction projects are already funded.
“As far as we know our funding will remain somewhat intact,” Heid said. “Our current projects are funded. As far as future projects go we will have to wait and see if they will happen. It won’t affect the safety of the day-to-day operations at all. Where it will affect is how we plan for the future in what projects we are going to do.”
Heid said GERA receives 90 percent of its capital improvement project funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and the other 10 percent is split equally between the City of Edmond and the City of Guthrie.
He said GERA’s daily operating budget, which includes salaries and fuel for airport equipment, is split between Guthrie and Edmond.
“The daily operations of the airport is funded 50-50 between the cities,” Heid said.
Heid added GERA’s budget also won’t be affected because the airport doesn’t have a control tower or any federal employees.
He said other airports like Stillwater or Norman could be affected because those airports do have control towers and receive funding through FAA contracts.
GERA board president Richard Geib of Edmond said GERA is sitting in a good position because the FAA already had funded its current capital improvement projects in 2012 and construction began on them last year. He added that GERA also has budgeted well for its airport upkeep.
Those projects have included purchasing land west of the airport from Guthrie businessman Frank Bross for runway addition and expansion and the building of several new hangar sites.
“We are actually in pretty good shape because our major projects that we needed to get funded got funded in 2012 and the projects started in 2012,” Geib said. “We do have things that we need to have maintained like taxiways and ramps. But we are also in pretty good shape to take care of those things.”
Geib said he believes Congress will let the budget cuts happen on Friday and might not come to a budget agreement for some time.
He said that stalemate could have longer-term ramifications on any future projects at GERA.
“It’s terribly frustrating,” Geib said. “I honestly believe the Democrats and the Republicans are going to let this thing happen. The next few years will be a whole new ballgame on any future projects.”