Additional 11M Approved For 2002 Airport Budget

    GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Aeronautics Board approved a budget amendment of $1.1 million in the 2002 operating budget to cover the cost of increased airport security measures that have been federally mandated since Sept. 11.

    Brian Picardat, finance and administration director, said the additional security costs incurred since the events of Sept. 11 can be absorbed under the 2001 budget for the remainder of the year, but additional funding will be needed to cover those costs next year.

    The board had approved the 2002 budget more than two months before the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

    In late October the board approved a security contract with D&R Security to supply six supplemental guards for airport security functions beginning Nov. 1. A month later, the board agreed to bump the number of supplemental guards to eight, which raised the total cost of D&R security services for a full year to $1,155,000.

    A little help from the Fed also may be on the way.

    Aeronautics Director James Koslosky said it appeared likely a conference committee of the House and Senate, under a Department of Defense supplemental funding bill, would approve an additional $175 million in the 2002 federal budget to reimburse airports for a portion of their increased operating costs relating to federal security mandates.

    “This is not a lot of money, given that there are some 450 commercial service airports that have all increased their costs,” Koslosky said. “This may get us partial reimbursement.”

    But he said airport staff has been tracking expenses since Sept. 11 and will be in a position to make an application for reimbursement, which they expect to seek in full.

    There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes to control costs, he said, and airport staff is taking a very conservative approach to the 2002 budget. No new positions are budgeted and there is a freeze on the airport’s capital improvement program.

    Koslosky anticipates only safety and security related projects, and possibly environmental type projects, would be advanced next year.    

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