County must match more for FAA grants
New federal legislation and uncertain state funding could leave Mono County holding the bag for up to three times the amount of matching funds for current and future Federal Aviation Administration grants.
Once such current grant was awarded to the runway at Bryant Field Airport in Bridgeport for its reconstruction. County staff has been working with engineers on design and plans to put the project out to bid this spring with construction anticipated this summer.
Legislation signed by President Barack Obama in February, however, has put a hitch in the County’s giddy-up.
At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Interim Assistant Public Works Director Garrett Higerd explained that the FAA Reauthorization legislation signed in February requires the County to match FAA grant funds at 10% rather than its previous 5% responsibility.
For the Bryant Field Runway Reconstruction Project, this means the County would have to supply up to $244,100 rather than $122,050. The total of the project is estimated at $2.4 million.
Previously, the California Division of Aeronautics kicked in 2.5% of the County’s 5% match responsibility. If it commits this funding for the Bryant Field project, then the County’s match responsibility would be $183,075. Higerd was fairly certain that the state would not pull the 2.5%, meaning that at the most, the County would have to match FAA grants by approximately 7.5%, rather than the full 10%.
Higerd added that the CDA is responding to the new legislation and may bump up its contribution to 5%, which would bring the County’s responsibility down to $122,050; still twice as much as its original responsibility. The CDA is expected to vote on this increase at the end of the month.
A match increase will also apply to separate costs for engineering and planning services on the project. For Bryant Field, the County is working with Reinhard Brandley, the same consultant being used at the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport. Mammoth Lakes Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht had not yet heard about the FAA Reauthorization legislation, but since the Town currently only receives money from the FAA for enplanements, not specific projects, he didn’t believe Mammoth-Yosemite would be affected at this time.
Before it would allow the County to continue moving forward with the runway reconstruction project, the FAA required a tentative nod from the Board of Supervisors that it would continue even with the increased match, Higerd said.
Supervisor Tim Hansen was supportive of the project, even with an increased match.
“It’s a tangible result and well worth it,” he said.
His fellow supervisors agreed and gave the nod that Higerd needed for the FAA, realizing that if they did not, the County would lose approximately $2.4 million in grant dollars.
“Bryant Field is a major regional asset for the area,” Supervisor Byng Hunt said. “It would be a wise match.”
Supervisor Hap Hazard requested that Higerd ask the FAA if there was any possibility that the County could provide a soft match to offset some of the costs.
The bid packet for the project will come before the supervisors in the next few months.