A divided Wilbarger County Commissioners approved a budget amendment on Monday that will allow new runway lighting to be installed at the airport. The court tied 2 to 2 with County Judge Greg Tyra casting the tiebreaker in favor of the project.
Judge Tyra said that the ongoing TxDOT airport renovation had fallen a year behind, due to lack of federal funds. However, funds were now available for the multi-year project to get back on schedule.
He said the county had budgeted funds for a runway rehab project, but the lighting project was not in the budget had had been planned for next year.
“The engineer would like to bid out both projects at the same time,” Judge Tyra told the commission, adding the county’s portion would be $111,000 – as the county pays for 10 percent and federal funding pays for 90 percent.
“Customarily they do one (project) per year, but we lost one (year) when no federal funds were available,” Tyra said, in explaining why they were proposing doing two projects.
Commissioner Phillip Graf asked if there would be one more phase after the rehab and lighting projects.
“I think this will finish it up,” Tyra answered.
County Auditor Sid Bebee added there may be another phase, if funding is available.
Tyra said that phase would be the building of a taxiway from the end of both runways so planes wouldn’t have to turn around on the runway and taxi back down them.
“I don’t know if the money will be there for that,” Tyra added.
“What is the downside to waiting (till next year) on the lighting?” Commissioner Josh Patterson asked.
Tyra said waiting meant the county would have to pay for two separate bid processes, as opposed to just one.
Commissioner Wright asked if the project was something that a previous commission had approved. Tyra said yes
Commissioner Graf wanted to know when they would start. Tyra said the bids would go out next month and they hoped to start in the fall.
“A million is awful expensive for lighting,” Wright said.
Tyra said the system would be new LEDs, new conduits – a whole new system.
“We ought to have some return on (utilities),” he added.
Wright made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Wright and Commissioner Kelly Joe Neel voted for it. Patterson and Graf voted against it. Tyra then cast the tie-breaker to pass the amendment.
In his report to the commission on county finances, Beebe said that airport sales were ahead about 2,900 gallons from last year and the profit margin was at $1.29 compared to $1.09 last year. He said sales tax receipts were up 16 percent – ahead $54,000 from last year.
Beebe said that about 35 percent remained in the budget for expenses. “We’re right where we ought to be,” he said.
Beebe said that the projections were showing the county was looking at adding $400,000 to the fund balance by year end.
The report was unanimously approved on a motion from Graf.
The County Treasurer’s quarterly report was also unanimously approved on a motion from Graf. Payment of county bills was unamously approved on a motion from Patterson.