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"Officials back fewer changes at Maine airport"
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- Subject: CAA: GA News, "Officials back fewer changes at Maine airport"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 21:39:00 -0800
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Thursday, February 6, 2003
Officials back fewer changes at airport
By ALAN CROWELL
The Kennebec (ME) Journal
NORRIDGEWOCK - Selectmen favored keeping change at the Central Maine
Regional Airport to a minimum Wednesday, even as they discussed details of
taking it over from the airport authority.
Under the threat of losing roughly $700,000 in state and federal grants over
the next two years, the Central Maine Regional Airport Authority has
terminated its lease and essentially given the airport back to the town to
run for the first time in over 35 years.
That change is effective at the end of March.
At a Wednesday night selectmen's meeting, it seemed likely that the
changeover could drive up at least some of the costs of running the
facility, one of the busiest general aviation airports in the state.
Selectmen seemed in favor of making as few modifications as possible.
"I would hate to see too many changes. It is running pretty good the way it
is," said Rodney Thibodeau, chairman of the board of selectmen.
Selectman Rick Pomerleau agreed.
"I would like to see this thing go the way it is right now," said Pomerleau.
But under the changes required by the Federal Aviation Administration, the
town will have to manage the airport if it is to receive roughly $700,000 in
state and federal grants over the next two years.
Those grants will go toward a number of improvements, including paving
airport taxiways and a section of pavement next to the terminal building.
Much of the existing pavement is about 60 years old and is falling apart,
according to airport officials.
But taking over the airport will also have costs.
Making the airport manager a town employee will add roughly $10,000 to the
cost of the position, because the town will be responsible for workers'
compensation, health insurance and various state and federal taxes.
Widmer noted that the airport actually had roughly $3,000 more in income
than it did in expenses last year. That small margin would be wiped out by
just the cost of making the airport manager a town employee.
Interim Town Manager D. Dwight Dogherty Jr. has said it is not yet clear
whether the changes will drive taxpayers cost up.
Wednesday, he worried that some, at least, of the volunteerism that has kept
costs down at the airport for decades will go away when it becomes a town
Pilots built the terminal building about 20 years ago and the airport fuel
tanks were also installed with volunteer labor.
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