The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Council Approves Bump in Airport Funding


August 19, 2020

The Sidney City Council approved increasing funding for the Sidney Municipal Airport.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the Sidney City Council debated a proposal for reinstating funding for the airport. For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the Sidney Airport Authority requested $169,350.44. Also during that period, the city's valuation decreased by 12 percent. The council approved reducing the airport authority's funding by the same rate as all other departments in the City, resulting in a decrease to $128,244.53.

This year, the Airport Authority requested the full amount available, $173,357 for FY 2020-2021, an increase of about 26 percent over the awarded $128,244.53. City Manager David Scott said if the county's valuation of the city remains the same, the airport mill levy would increase slightly, from 0.029205 to 0.040147. Scott proposed amending the funding request to $159,449, an 18 percent increase over FY2019-2020. The City's fiscal year begins Oct. 1, 2020.

In the council meeting, Airport Authority Board Chairman Ron Meyer explained how the funding is allocated; salaries for the airport staff, insurance and matching funds for the Federal Aviation Administration take the majority of the funds.

The airport is managed by L & L Aviation, George Lapaseotes and Jon Leever.

“We're just a couple of miles out of town, but I'm not sure how many people know how much happens there,” Leever said.

Sidney Regional Medical Center has five to six flight operations each week. Emergency medical flights are by Airlink. Leever said the have what they call “transient aircraft,” aircraft flying cross-country and stopping in Sidney for fuel and a break. There are also weekend travelers, pilots who fly to Sidney for breakfast at a local restaurant or for a weekend in Sidney. The Sidney airport also receives military flights and corporate stops. Lapaseotes said they record about 16,000 operations per year and about 70,000 gallos of fuel; both numbers are down from last year.

In addition to a municipal airport, Sidney Municipal Airport is also the home of Western Nebraska Community College's aviation mechanics program. Leever, who is also part of the college program, said there are currently 24 students with six students actively learning to fly.

Scott stressed the facility is a vital part of the Sidney community.

“What they provide for services is critical,” he said.

The council passed the $159,449 recommendation 5-0.

The council also approved the police department purchasing a replacement vehicle for the department's investigator. The department is budgeted for $30,000 to purchase a vehicle. The 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer used as the investigator's vehicle has 114,000 miles. Chief Joe Aikens said he did receive a bid fr a 2020 SXT AWD for $30,421 with no trade option. Locally, Maddox Motors offered a 2019 Dodge Durango GT with 27,000 miles for $28,850 with trade. Panhandle Motors offered a 2019 Buick Enclave Essence AWD with 28,000 miles and a trade-in allowance for $28.649.

Council members debated purchasing a new vehicle with few miles, or from a local dealer with mileage equivalent to about four years of use, but at a lower price. The council approved purchasing the Enclave with a 4-1 vote; Vice-Mayor Joe Arterburn voting against the proposal.

The council also heard from Glenda Gay Condon regarding Constitution Day and a Constitution Week Proclamation. Constitution Day is Sept. 17, commemorating the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution.


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