City returns grant funds to MoDOT

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In January, due to a failure to complete an airport layout plan (ALP), the Cassville City Council authorized the transfer of $227,813 in entitlement grant funds back to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

"Because the grant monies are for specific capital-related items, we must have a completed ALP, which is part of the updated master plan," said Mike Hayslip, city administrator. "The master plan must be in place for us to determine future purchases.

"At this time, both the ALP and master plan are being updated by Sprenkle and Associations," said Hayslip. "Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming process that became longer with the recent requirement that an aeronautical survey be accomplished as part of the update. The ALP and master plan would have been mostly completed by now had this new requirement not come about."

Cassville receives $150,000 per year through the grant, which is disbursed by MoDOT Aviation in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration. The grant, which requires a 5 percent match, was awarded to the city in October of 2003.

The $227,813 in entitlements that were transferred back to MoDOT this year included $77,813 received in 2004 and all of the grant funds that the city was awarded in 2006.

"We did a recent runway overlay and restriping with 2004 funds," said Hayslip. "Much of the remainder was spent on engineering costs for the ALP and master plan update.

"Prior to that, we spent some of the grant money on a new beacon light at the airport and other maintenance needs," said Hayslip. "Much of it has gone for engineering costs associated with all projects past and future."

The grant funds can be used for a variety of capital improvement projects, including runway extension, overlaying, lighting, land acquisition and planning.

"Fire trucks, for an airport our size, are not acceptable use of these funds," said Hayslip. "We also cannot use these funds for any revenue-generating purchases unless all other capital projects have been completed."

Revenue-generating purchases would include new hangars and credit card gasoline pumps, which allow the city to generate revenue through hangar rental and gasoline sales.

"Once we have the updated ALP and master plan, we should be projecting projects for many years out as some of these projects cost much more than our yearly allotment," said Hayslip. "MoDOT Aviation allows cities to save monies for consecutive years if said monies are earmarked for a specific project as outlined in the ALP and master plan."

For instance, the city could save all of the funds received in 2006, 2007 and 2008 to purchase land for an airport expansion in 2009. Grant funds must be used within three and a half years of receipt.

"It should be understood that we don't physically have this money in a local account," said Hayslip. "The $150,000 per year is an allotment for our airport, and the funds are held and disbursed by MoDOT Aviation as we complete the requirements for a given project."

All projects must be approved by MoDOT Aviation prior to grant fund disbursement.

"The good news is that there are other funds available for large ticket items that we might need," said Hayslip. "We should have no problem supporting the growth of the airport for years to come according to our MoDOT grant representative."

According to Hayslip, items that would have been purchased or projects that would have been completed with the funds that the city was forced to give back can be purchased or funded by future monies. Money that was returned to MoDOT will be awarded to another airport that is ready to complete a project. "We are only delayed in our process, not broke," said Hayslip. "Monies are still available for any approved project we undertake. MoDOT will help make up the funds that we are short for any given, and approved, project. That comes straight from the mouth of our MoDOT representative."

The city currently has all of 2006, 2007, 2008 and a portion of 2009 funds available for use. After a new airport consultant is hired, the monies will be earmarked for future projects based on the city's master plan and ALP, which are scheduled to be completed between May and June.

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