Foothills Airport now pays for itself

May. 30, 2014 @ 08:36 AM

Foothills Regional Airport now makes enough enough money to cover the cost of its daily operations and will outperform its budget for fiscal 2013-14 by as much as $75,000, officials said.

That means that the yearly allocations from local governments -- it receives a little more than $25,000 each from Caldwell and Burke counties and the cities of Lenoir and Morganton -- can be focused on capital improvements to attract more planes and more business, instead of on daily operations, airport manager Brent Brinkley said.

It also means the airport will be more likely to get state grants to help pay for those improvements because “the state likes to know that you have the money to back up projects before they give it to you,” he said.

The airport is in a nine-month process of designing a "layout plan" will map the airport’s growth for the next 20 years.

The airport already has collected $15,000 more revenue than was projected for the entire fiscal year, which ends June 30, accountant Norm Sherwood told the Foothills Regional Airport Authority board of directors in a meeting Wednesday.

The airport's profitability has been boosted in part by a 21-percent increase in fuel sales this fiscal year, which push profits on fuel up by 33 percent, Brinkley said, accounting for $331,587 in sales so far this fiscal year, though the airport only budgeted to sell $330,000 worth. Hangar rentals also are up.

Operating expenses, meanwhile, are nearly $60,000 under budget. By the end of April, the airport had spent $209,716 on operations.

In 2012, in the wake of previous management’s removal after an FBI investigation of embezzlement allegations, airport leadership cut more than $100,000 in expenses from the airport’s budget, more than half coming from salary cuts and the elimination of a position, Brinkley said.