The Roswell Air Center is asking for $51.4 million over four years in state funding as part of a $308.99 million airport improvements bill pre-filed by state Senate Finance Chair George Munoz.
“The way he looks at it is that there is a lot of money coming in from the federal government, and we need to do something for our rural airports, not just Sunport (in Albuquerque),” said Adrian Avila, chief of staff for Munoz's office.
Avila said that Munoz, a Democrat from Gallup who represents Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties, has been working with the New Mexico Municipal League “in the background” for a few months to draft the legislation and determine funding needs for individual airports. He also said that Munoz has been very involved in legislation regarding infrastructure during his 14 years in the state legislature.
Avila said the draft bill will be read on the Senate floor and then assigned a number and sent to Senate committees, expected to be the Tax, Business and Transportation Committee and the Finance Committee. It would then have to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives and be signed by the governor by April 7 to become law.
Avila said that his opinion is that the bill's success depends on whether the projections of $3.59 billion in “new money” for the state for fiscal year 2024 remains a viable number, considering that revenues are heavily reliant on oil and gas prices. New money is recurring revenues minus already appropriated recurring expenditures. Total recurring revenues for fiscal 2024 were estimated in December at $12 billion.
“In February, the consensus legislative finance report will be available,” Avila said. “Then we'll know whether we'll have that $3.5 billion,” Avila said.
Munoz's draft bill calls for funding to 49 airports in the state from 2024 to 2027. The money would come from the state's general fund and be administered through the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Roswell's funding represents the single largest allocation, but 41 requests are for more than $1 million. The smallest request is $22,222 for the Tatum airport, which City Clerk Amanda Thomas said likely would go to repairs.
Other municipalities besides Roswell making seven-figure requests are Alamogordo-White Sands Regional Airport, asking for $15.55 million; Clovis Regional Airport, seeking $37.1 million; Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington, requesting $13.62 million; Gallup Municipal Airport, with $23.37 million; Lea County Regional Airport in Hobbs, asking for $22.29 million; and Las Cruces International Airport, with $17.6 million.
Southeastern New Mexico airports also would be in line for a lot of funding in the seven-figure range: $5.97 million for Carlsbad; $8.72 million for Artesia; $2.96 million for the Jal-Lea County Airport in Jal; $2.27 million for the Lea County Zip Franklin Memorial Airport in Lovington; $2.95 million for the Portales Municipal Airport; and $9.63 million for the Sierra Blanca Regional Airport in Ruidoso.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Tim Jennings, Roswell Air Center employees and representatives with the Airport Advisory Commission and Armstrong Consultants, the airport's engineering consultants, met to discuss potential projects to be funded.
“We talked about outlining some of the projects and getting engineering estimates of some of the real costs,” said Mike Espiritu, an advisory commission member and president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.
A decision hasn't been made about the exact list of projects that could be funded by the bill, Espiritu said, but some of the projects discussed specifically Tuesday included erecting a fabric and metal hangar already purchased by the Air Center that could be used for storage or other purposes, the planned airport terminal renovation project and development of the south side of the airfield for future commercial and industrial development.
Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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