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Revenues, cash balances soaring at Air Center

Members of the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission listen to presentations during a Thursday meeting at the Roswell Convention Center. From left are Matthew McDonald, Amy Coll, Mayor Dennis Kintigh, Shawn Powell and Mike Espiritu. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Roswell Air Center has a significant net operating income and plenty of cash on hand so far this fiscal year, due to aircraft parking fees, stability in hangar and building rent revenues, and federal relief funding.

“We are moving in the right direction is the best thing I can say right now,” said Air Center Director Scott Stark. “We intend to continue to make the Air Center into a premier facility.”

The financial overview for the Air Center was shared Thursday with members of the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission during the group’s regular monthly meeting at the Roswell Convention Center.

The information presented by Juan Fuentes, administrative services director for the city, shows that total operating revenues for the Air Center so far in fiscal year 2021 are $3.44 million. The fiscal year ends June 30.

Parking or storage of aircraft due to COVID-19 industry downturns and travel restrictions have reached $1.13 million, $573,348 more than collected for the entire 12 months of fiscal year 2020. Stark said that the Air Center still had about 495 aircraft parked as of last week.

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Overall, the 2021 revenues are about equal to what they were for the entire 12 months of fiscal 2020, when they were only $6,639 higher. In fiscal year 2019, total operating revenues were $3.08 million.

Meanwhile, total operating expenses are $1.49 million so far this fiscal year, compared to $2.53 million for the 12 months of 2020 and $4.53 million for the 12 months of 2019.

The Air Center is working with a net income at this point of $1.95 million, a welcome change from 2018 and 2019, when there were net losses of $1.26 million and $1.15 million. In 2020, the net income was $615,166.

Part of the reason for the losses in 2018 and 2019, according to Fuentes and Stark, was that the Air Center had to expend a great deal of money for a couple of years on hangar and building repairs due to snow and wind storms.

Fuentes explained that the Air Center, which functions as an enterprise department, is expected to be self-sufficient, without the need for supplemental funding from the city’s general fund.

He said the Air Center budget has three funds: Fund 5100 for general airport operations and projects; Fund 5130, which is for the enplanement fees the airport is allowed to charge, but which can only be used for FAA-approved purposes; and Fund 5150, for the Urban Development Action Grant that the city obtained in the 1980s and which the city council decided to allocate for the Air Center in 2019. It has a balance of $1.02 million.

Stark said that a proposal is in the works to ask city councilors for a proposal to use the UDAG money as matching funds for a Hangar 84 expansion project, if the city receives a federal grant that is still being reviewed by a division of the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

As of February 2021, the Air Center had $4.13 million in cash on hand from all three funds, compared to $2.69 million at the end of fiscal year 2020.

Stark and Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh said that the federal coronavirus relief funds made available since March 2020 will free up money that otherwise would have been used to support general airport operations, allowing a shift of some of the Air Center’s earned revenues to capital projects.

The airport has a long list of future projects in the pipeline in addition to the Hangar 84 expansion, according to a list presented to the Advisory Authority Commission. Those include ramp rehabilitation projects, vehicle parking upgrades, building improvements and improvements to water lines on the southeast side of the airfield.

Just this week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced two more COVID relief grants for the airport, with this money made possible by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, a section of the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law Dec. 27.

The airport received about $1.02 million for general operations and to cover COVID-related expenses and $12,897 from an airport concessions grant. Stark said no decisions have been made specifically about the concession funding. He said the funding is meant as relief for the rental car businesses with booths in the terminal building and for the airport restaurant and bar. It might cover rent or other payments and fees due the airport.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.