Rock County’s regional airport will see maintenance upgrades and a $160,000 ramp revamp in the near future, but money has yet to be allocated to repair a deteriorating runway.
The new Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport Board discussed those projects at its inaugural meeting Tuesday. The board comprises six residents with aviation or economic development experience and three Rock County Board members.
The county board voted to form the board in November to bolster development at the county-owned airport. The airport previously was overseen by the Rock County Public Works Committee, but it is now its own department, and the airport board is a standalone committee.
Under county ordinances, the committee is allowed to spend up to $25,000 without the county board’s approval.
Airport Director Greg Cullen, who served as interim manager before being officially hired in November, updated board members on the airport’s projects and fiscal standing.
He said 2019 fiscal year revenue is estimated to be $409,000, which is generated by fuel flowage fees, landing fees and hangar rent, among other sources.
Airport expenses for the 2019 fiscal year are estimated at $972,000, which includes wages, utilities, and repair and maintenance of equipment and facilities, Cullen said.
Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said the county budgeted about $500,000 for airport operations in 2019, and that money covers the difference between the airport’s revenue and expenses.
Six full-time county employees manage and operate the airport, which comprises six facilities and three active runways on about 1,400 acres.
Cullen said the airport receives funding through the state Department of Transportation that is similar to what small, general aviation airports receive. He said it maintains the same standards as commercial-service airports, and he will work to boost the amount it receives from the state.
County board Chairman Russ Podzilni, who spoke during public comment, told the new board members that the airport’s importance “far exceeds” its prior place under the public works committee. He said each board member had a resume that “made your presence here a good fit.”
Cullen, for his part, served 27 years in the U.S. Air Force before becoming the airport’s chief.
Among upcoming projects is a ramp renovation estimated to cost $160,000, Cullen said. A runway with deteriorating asphalt needs an overhaul, but that project is not yet budgeted, he said.
Cullen said the county has budgeted $100,000 for numerous maintenance and facilities improvements.
Future board meetings will start at 8 a.m. the third Wednesday of each month in the conference room next to Bessie’s Diner at the airport.