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Airport Board may levy tax

Last week the Board issued a legal notice that it will host a public forum at the next regular scheduled meeting; June 9 at 6:00 p.m. at the airport. According to the notice, the public is invited to attend and is asked to provide oral or written comments regarding the proposed tax.

Those wishing to mail comments can do so at the following address: McCreary County Airport Board, PO Box 547, Pine Knot, Kentucky – 42635. All written comments must be postmarked before 3:00 p.m. on June 9, or hand delivered at the meeting.

As a special taxing district, the McCreary County Airport has the capability of imposing a tax on the real estate, like other tax districts, but have not had to resort to such a measure since its inception in 1968.

Last month members of the Board appeared before the McCreary County Fiscal Court to request their assistance in securing funding to pay the local match on a $660,000 resurfacing project at the airport.

The project will receive $600,000 of the funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and $50,000 from the state. A local match of $16,667 is required before the project can begin.

Board Chairman Bruce Murphy told the Court that without any financial assistance from the County, the Airport faced a tough decision to either impose an ad valorem tax or consider closing the facility.

According to figures from the Kentucky Department of Local Government, a tax of one cent per $100 of value could bring in about $16,000 in taxes annually for the Airport.

The runway, which was first paved over 20 years ago, shows its age. Cracks abound on the 3,000-foot strip, with weeds growing throughout.

Airport Board officials say the project is vital to the continued existence of the airport. Murphy said if the local match funding was not able to be provided, the funding for the project would disappear and the airport would face permanent closure.

During the Fiscal Court meeting Judge Stephens stated at the time that the County did not have additional funding available for the airport, while recognizing the potential long-term economic benefit of maintaining the facility.

Magistrate Duston Baird stated he would see if he could fund the project through his allocation for road projects in his district, but was unable to obtain permission from the state to do so.

According to a document provided by the Airport Board, over the next four years they have several more projects lined up that will also require local matching funds.

Those projects include a runway expansion, scheduled for 2019, which would total approximately $4.1 million. Of that the Board would be required to provide about $180,000 in local contribution.

In an interview following the Fiscal Court meeting that even allocating one percent of Occupational Tax receipts for the airport would be sufficient to maintain airport operations for the foreseeable future, but County Officials were reluctant to commit to the allocation as the money is needed elsewhere.

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