Commissioners to Reconsider Airport Budget Amendment

Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Photo

SWEETWATER COUNTY– In a 3-1 vote, the Sweetwater County Commissioners approved to prepare a budget amendment for the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport, which will be up for consideration at the next commissioner meeting.

The budget amendment that the commissioners will consider will be for the amount of $133,333, which covers two-thirds of the cost of airports Commercial Terminal Modernization Project.

In late 2018, the airport requested $200,000 worth of funding from Sweetwater County and the City of Rock Springs. The airport requested $133,333 from the county and $66,667 from Rock Springs. However, the county voted 3-2 against the request for additional funding in November.

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The City of Rock Springs funded the airport’s full request of $200,000. This money went towards the design phase of the project.

Now, the City of Rock Springs has requested the airport to see if there is any chance the county would reconsider their previous decision and help fund the conceptual design phase of the project.

Commissioners to Consider a Budget Amendment

Devon Brubaker, Airport Director, asked the commission how they would like to move forward with the funding, and if they would be willing to reconsider. Brubaker asked if the commissioners would rather do a budget amendment or have the airport include the funding in their budget request for Fiscal Year 2020, that is, if the county is interested in helping with funding.

Chairman Johnson questioned why they would need to give the funding in a budget amendment when the upcoming budget session is near.

Commissioner Jeff Smith said he spoke with Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo, and they would like to have the $133,333 back in their coffers as soon as possible. Brubaker added that the airport is sitting on $63,000 in invoices until the county makes a decision, as to avoid a “messy accounting” situation.

Johnson said he believes a budget amendment would be unnecessary and that the request could just be part of the airport’s budget request for FY 2020. However, Commissioners Smith and Randy Wendling emphasized the importance of supporting the airport, and said they supported a budget amendment.

Commissioners Smith, Wendling, and Roy Lloyd voted in favor of preparing a budget amendment for the next commissioner meeting, while Johnson voted against. Commissioner Don Van Matre was absent from the meeting.

Johnson clarified his nay vote by saying he feels they are betting the county residents’ money on “documents that are sitting on a shelf”.

The budget amendment totaling $133,333 will be up for consideration at the next County Commissioners meeting on May 7.

Up Next for the Airport

The airport is still waiting to see if they will receive supplemental federal funding for the terminal modernization project. This round of funding lasts through May. However, even if the airport does not receive the funding, the project is still scheduled to happen.

According to Brubaker, if the funding is received, they will begin work on the modernization this summer. If they don’t receive the funding, the project will take place in Fiscal Year 2021, as federal funding and state funding will be available then.

If the federal funding is not offered, the project will be funded by 10 to 14 different grants, instead of one to two grants if the funding is received.

With the conceptual design nearly completed, the project is now considered shovel ready, which increases the opportunities to secure federal funding.

Brubaker said $11.4 billion worth of requests were submitted for $795 million of available federal funding. However, since the airport’s project is now shovel ready, and it’s a terminal project, Brubaker has hope they they will have a higher chance of receiving funding.