Council considers funding for regional airport |

Council considers funding for regional airport

Christina M. Currie

Administrators of the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, near Hayden, want to accomplish several renovations in the next years, and they need money to do it.

After receiving almost $300,000 from the Routt County commissioners and $30,000 from Moffat County commissioners, officials attended the Tuesday night council meeting to request $15,000 from the City of Craig.

Councilors agreed, on the advice of City Manager Jim Ferree, to wait until upcoming budget workshops to consider funding the request.

Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison cited the regional impact of the airport and its benefit to Moffat County as reasons the Council should budget a donation.

“At this time of year, you really see the flights all benefit Craig,” he said. “It’s a thing that does affect the whole valley here.”

Ellison said many hunters heading in the direction of Moffat County take advantage of the closeness of the airport.

The city gave funds to the airport in 1990 through 1996, but requests in 1997 and 1998 did not meet the budget deadline. The Council was urged to consider reinstating the funding.

“There is a real opportunity for aviation and we have the resources up here that bring people all the time,” Ellison said.

In 1998, the Yampa Valley Regional airport ran three flights a day during the summer season that were all 90 percent full. According to airport officials, the flight schedule was not conducive for business commuters, evidenced by the 6 percent of passengers that listed Denver as their final destination.

This year, flights were boosted to five flights a day from May to August. In August, the airport began flying eight flights a day. The flight schedule has changed to accommodate business commuters.

“We know it’s getting used by people in Moffat County,” said Ellison in response to a question posed by Councilor Bill Johnston. Ellison said no study has ever been done on the percentage of people flying in to visit Moffat or Routt county. “In the summer time, the off-ski season, we know there are a fair amount of people heading to Moffat County.”

In addition to use of the airport, Ellison said the city should give financial support because of the number of jobs provided by the airport. In recent years, officials report about 65 Craig residents have worked in the airport part-time, seasonal and year-round jobs.

The City of Steamboat Springs did not appropriate funding this year because it gave $500,000 in 1993 for a terminal enlargement project. Then Continental Airlines discontinued its service and the city lost the revenue it anticipated from landing fees, but still has bond payments until 2003.

Funding this year will be used to pay for ramp sealing, ramp rehabilitation, phased terminal carpet replacement and other remodeling needs.

“A donation of $15,000 from the City of Craig will greatly benefit Yampa Valley Regional Airport, which in turn will benefit the employees and public who work on and use the airport,” said Aviation Director James Parker.