Santa Maria Airport 2011-12 Budget flying higher than normal

The 2011-12 fiscal year is going to be atypical for the Santa Maria Public Airport with an $8 million runway extension project under way and preparations for its long-awaited business park under development.  So the 2011-12 Budget isn’t going to be like many others, either, and the airport’s board of directors looked at that issue Tuesday night.

The board unanimously approved the budget that will include a net capital outlay of more than $10 million, $8.3 of which is the Runway 12 Extension Project.  “It’s the largest capital budget I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said General Manager Chris Hastert.

Although those numbers fly higher than some of the jets that land at SMX, $7.9 million of it comes from Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program that is paying for the extension of the runway, its taxiway and relocation of navigational aids.  The district’s out-of-pocket cost for the extension of the pavement is $415,629.

The project still is on track to be completed by the end of the year when it will be certified by the FAA, although Hastert warned the board that the FAA has cautioned any airports depending on federal funding to consider pushing projects back to mid-July until the federal budget is secured. Bids for the second phase of the runway extension project were set to be opened in June.  Hastert said if the project was delayed, it could push FAA certification back into February.

Aside from that large project, things are normal for the district in terms of budgetary items.

Because the economy is sputtering, airport revenue is projected at a little less than $3.2 million for 2011-12, which is down from previous years.

Income generated from the airport’s landing area is expected to fall by more than $4,000 this year with fuel fees offsetting a nearly $2,000 increase in Ameriflight landing fees.

Hangar fees are expected to rise by 8 percent, while terminal area revenue is projected to continue its free fall by $15,734 over last year’s numbers.

Passenger based revenue — passenger facility charges — also is expected to fall more than $4,000 in the upcoming year. Terminal concessions with Avis and Budget car rentals are projected to drop by more than $13,000.  “What’s really going to help the terminal area is getting more people flying in and out of the airport,” Hastert said.

The airport also has undertaken a cost-reduction program that will slash expenses by more than $19,000 in hangar facilities and by nearly $3,000 in landing area expenses.  Two of the largest cost cuts are to runway and taxiway pavement ($10,000) and hangar maintenance ($8,500).

“Healthwise, the airport is doing really well,” Hastert said. “We’ll be putting more money back into the reserves.”

Posted in Local on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 12:00 am