Grant receipt procedure changes, Hale informs airport commission

A change in the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics’ grant reimbursement method is necessitating some financial alterations for Pine Bluff Municipal Airport-Grider Field, including a rearrangement with the City of Pine Bluff on a current grant procedure.

In a letter to Airport Commission members Tuesday, Airport Manager Doug Hale reported that the ADA is no longer allowing advancement of payments for grant reimbursement.

“Final payment will need to be made to Bell Construction Company very soon for the terminal renovation project,” Hale said in the letter. “The city’s match is in our construction account. The remaining $175,600 that is the state’s match will need to be covered by the city until the ADA reimburses us. The estimated time to accomplish this is one week.”

Rating the “timing” of his announcement “as just awful,” Hale said, “I’ve lost sleep over this.”

The commission voted to authorize Hale to meet with Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. and other city officials to advise them of the ADA policy change and “request their assistance in covering the final payment of the terminal renovation project.”

Commissioner Kirby Mouser said he didn’t see the development as creating a real change for the city in regard to the current grant

“It was proposed (to the city) as a reimbursement grant,” he said.

“This is not the fault of the commission or Aviation Department,” Commission Chairman Ken Johnson said. “The city inherited responsibility when it approved (the grant).”

“To comply with this change of policy for future ADA reimbursement grants and to make monthly payments for FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) grants regarding the city’s match, the Aviation Commission needs to establish a line of credit with a financial institution or make prior arrangements with the city,” Hale said in his letter. “The approval of such grants by the ADA and FAA would be the guarantee of reimbursement by those respective agencies.”

Hale said the ADA will reimburse 50 percent of its approved grant amount when 50 percent of a project attains 50 percent completion. The balance of the grant monies will be provided upon project completion and the ADA’s receipt’s of final documents.

“Again, this typically takes about a week,” Hale said.

Before the commission meeting, Hale met with the City Council’s Traffic and Aviation Committee, which voted to recommend to the full council approval of a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with the FAA to utilize an airport improvement grant for the local project.

The proposed resolution states that the FAA agrees to pay 90 percent of project-associated costs, not to exceed $201,427. The city will be obligated to pay 10 percent of project costs.

Hale explained in his letter to commissioners that the city’s portion on FAA AIP projects is paid in monthly increments and “a final payment along with FAA funds.”

“Once the project is completed and the AIP grant is closed, the ADA will reimburse the city for its 10 percent match,” said Hale. “Therefore, these projects are ultimately 100 percent funded with federal and state monies. However, we must carry our portion of the match until the project is completed.”