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Tue, Oct. 15

Prescott Airport terminal plans on track despite funding miss
City officials are confident money will come from other sources, possibly FAA

An airside interior view of the Prescott Airport terminal rendering. (Courtesy)

An airside interior view of the Prescott Airport terminal rendering. (Courtesy)

Prescott’s planned new airport terminal was not among the projects to get a piece of the $1 billion in supplemental federal aviation money this year.

But that does not appear to be affecting the push toward the start of terminal construction this fall.

Airport Director Robin Sobotta reported this week that the city’s request for $9.3 million in supplemental aviation money was not granted in last week’s round of award announcement.

The only Arizona communities to receive supplemental grant money were Holbrook ($4.7 million for a runway rehabilitation) and Coolidge ($9.5 million for a runway rehab).

But, Sobotta said she is still hopeful that the $16.2 million cost of the new terminal will be covered through other sources, including Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) discretionary funding.

She said FAA officials have urged the city to “stay the course” in this year’s continuing funding cycle for possible “discretionary” federal aviation money to cover much of the cost. Of the total cost, about $13.3 million is eligible for FAA funding, Sobotta said.

City Manager Michael Lamar added that he also is confident that additional state and federal money would be coming for the terminal project.

Meanwhile, the city appears poised to devote about $3.7 million of its general-fund “unassigned” reserve money to go toward the terminal as an economic development project.

Although the city’s 2020 fiscal-year budget has yet to be approved, officials were supportive this week of allocating the money to the terminal project.

City Manager Michael Lamar told the City Council during a budget workshop Tuesday, May 21, that the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes the allocation for the terminal project.

He said the new terminal is needed to serve the successful commercial airline service that began in 2018.

“The success we’ve had at PRC (Prescott Regional Airport) is unbelievable, and it’s unprecedented for Essential Air Service – is what we’ve heard from our provider SkyWest,” Lamar said.

With that success, Lamar said, “Getting the commercial airlines, and this community, the airport terminal they deserve is very important. As such, we’re putting $3.7 million coming from the general fund (into the project).”

But, he added, “I also think it’s important for the public to understand we’ll be leveraging $13 million plus or minus (in state and federal money).”

Noting that he and Sobotta had met with the FAA about two weeks ago, Lamar said, “They said they would be back to us in about two weeks about how they’re going to get us the money. I feel very confident we are going to get the money.”

In addition, Lamar announced that the state budget that is under consideration by the Legislature appears to include $1 million for the Prescott Airport terminal project – an allocation that he said is due to the efforts of Prescott’s local legislative delegation, spearheaded by Rep. Noel Campbell.

The city also is on tap to receive $1 million in FAA money for achieving Non-Hub Primary Commercial Service status, after the airport’s commercial service achieved the 10,000-passenger mark in 2018 — money that Sobotta said likely would be a part of the total from the FAA.

Next year, Prescott will be entitled to another $1 million, based on the airport’s recent achievement the 10,000-passenger (enplanements) already in 2019.

Sobotta told the Prescott Airport Advisory Committee on Tuesday afternoon that the start of construction on the new terminal is still on schedule for this fall.

Depending on the timing of the expected funding sources, Sobotta told the committee, “The official groundbreaking could be September or October.”

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