Friday , 22 June 2018

City Council Notebook: Funding Approved for Air Traffic Control Tower Operations as FAA Closure List Looms

By Ben Lane, TSB Staff

It might fall to the city of McKinney to fund Collin County Regional Airport’s air traffic control tower. On Tuesday night, the McKinney City Council unanimously approved the proposal to continue funding the contract tower program at CCRA if all other measures fail.

The proposal calls for authority to be given to City Manager Jason Gray to oversee the continued funding of the tower program if the April 7th deadline passes without a federal resolution. Congress is currently discussing a continuing resolution in the protracted fight over federal spending. A proposed amendment to that continuing resolution that would have extended FAA funding and allowed the contract towers to remain open was not approved on Tuesday, despite the support of both Texas senators.

There is still some hope for the tower to remain open without city help, as the FAA has not released the final list of towers that would be closed on April 7th. The list is scheduled to be released on Friday. CCRA Executive Director Ken Wiegand said that he submitted a letter to the FAA requesting the CCRA tower remain open.

If all of those options fail, the city will foot the bill for the next six months, through the end of the fiscal year. If there is still not a resolution to the federal budget or the FAA’s budget at that point, a line item will be added to the McKinney city budget for the 2014 fiscal year that would continue the CCRA tower operations at the city’s expense.

The council approved the item Tuesday, with several members commenting on the importance of having an airport in McKinney to attract corporations with aviation divisions.

Councilman Ray Ricchi lamented the need to fund the tower at the expense of other projects in McKinney but placed the blame at the feet of the lawmakers in Washington, D.C. “These are dollars we’ll have to use to maintain the safety of our airport, but we’re going to have to use these dollars here instead of for other things,” Ricchi said in council chambers.

Town Center Zoning Meeting Set: The city council approved a rescheduling of a public hearing to review the Town Center rezoning initiative. The joint meeting of the city council and the zoning and planning commission was moved from April 2nd to April 25th due to a scheduling conflict.

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