Letter: ‘Hidden gem’ airport hardly a cash cow for Cottonwood
Cottonwood Airport has large expenses, produces little revenue
Together with numerous other residents, we attended the Wednesday evening workshop for noise abatement hosted by the Cottonwood Airport Commission.
Folks from several of our local neighborhoods joined together last August and we’ve been working on this issue for almost a year. We collectively applaud the Commissions’ efforts to address our ongoing objections to the increased noise generated from training activities at the airport.
Throughout the hour-long dialogue, residents were repeatedly told that Cottonwood is an “airport town,” replete with all the benefits.
We were reminded that the airport is a “hidden gem” and Commission explained to us that the airport contributes a great deal, financially and economically, to this area and to our town. Previously, city officials had stressed that this airport was an important economic driver for Cottonwood.
So when The Verde Independent published Cottonwoods’ tentative fiscal year 2020 annual budget on Friday, we scanned the document to see how much revenue Cottonwood has budgeted to receive in 2020 from its stewardship of this hidden gem. We are not accountants, just regular citizens, so we’ll use our own simple terms.
We see in the expenditures column that $118,400 was budgeted for the airport for 2019, with another $150,155 approved during the year for a total yearly expenditure of $268,555.
For 2020, they’ve guessed airport expenditures at $100,600. But, if we apply the same math they used to project expenses for 2019, we can probably assume that we will have to approve another $150,000 (or so) during the year to cover realistic airport expenses for 2020 (of approximately $300,000K).
Now, in the revenue column: federal grants were estimated at $252,235 for 2019, but we only realized $96,520. We guess our city general fund would have had to pay the difference.
In the 2020 budget, estimated federal grants for the year are $400,665. What will we really get? Who knows? But, we do know that Cottonwood will certainly have to make up the difference if the full amount is not realized.
Now, to the next listing in the revenue column: revenue from fuel. It’s listed for 2019 as estimated at $260,020. Actual revenue from fuel was 157,345, but, there will be no revenue from fuel next year, and none is estimated because, under his contract, that revenue will now go to the new FBO (Fixed Base Operator), Mr. Weissman.
Finally, in the Revenue column, rentals and leases have and will produce approximately $100,000 per year. This seems to be the only real revenue the airport generates from private hanger rentals, business leases and operations revenue. $100k per year.
So, the way we interpret is: Other than federal grants, we have Airport yearly expenditures of approximately $300,000 ... with yearly revenues of only $100,000. That equals minus $200,000K?
Of course, to be fair, there are some businesses located at the airport that should generate sales tax for Cottonwood. It’s our understanding, however, that one business has already asked for, and received, relief from charging sales tax on the sale of large-ticket items like planes. If others follow, sales tax revenue from the airport will not be significant.
So, Hidden gem? Economic driver for the citizens of Cottonwood? Maybe, but the airport has to be subsidized by our sales tax dollars and the general fund. It has large expenses and produces little revenue. It’s noisy.
Certainly Cottonwood has other areas of loss on it’s books; The Library, Pool and Recreation Center. All provide services and important access to every resident of the City. None adversely affect the quality of life for our people.
In contrast, the airport, it seems, is less an asset and more of a liability for our town.