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FAA Exclusion Cost Port Authority $20 Million in Funding

July 23, 2008 — The V.I. Port Authority can apply once again for discretionary funds from the Federal Aviation Administration after being barred from the Airport Improvement Program.
The five-year disbarment from the program is estimated to have cost VIPA in the neighborhood of $20 million, according to Kenn Hobson, the authority's interim executive director. At issue was the proximity of the runway at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to the Anquilla landfill.
FAA rules state that runways cannot be within 10,000 feet of a landfill due to its attraction for numbers of birds and other scavengers, Hobson explained.
The citation affected both territorial airports' ability to apply for the funds, Hobson said.
Meeting with FAA officials in Orlando and Atlanta, Hobson provided a schedule for the landfill's closure developed by the V.I. Waste Management Authority.
To complicate matters, the landfill is on Port Authority property, leased to the VIWMA. The FAA reviewed the lease and determined that the Port Authority is not charging VIWMA fair-market value for the property.
"The FAA says you have to get fair-market value for any excess land," Hobson said.
The property will be re-surveyed and appraised to clear up discrepancies in the existing lease.
"This open door to discretionary funds is hinged on reliance of the FAA relative to the closing of the landfill," said board member Gordon A. Finch. "And the door will shut really fast if Waste Management doesn't stop the landfill. The Port Authority needs to start charging Waste Management fair-market value for use of premises in St. Croix. Those are the two big criteria if we are to remain eligible for discretionary funds."
The board also reviewed reductions in FAA fines assessed for unfavorable conditions of the taxiway at Rohlson Airport.
"I just hope that it is the last time [for the fines]," Finch said.
Board members concurred with Finch about ways to ensure compliance with FAA and other regulations.
Board member Robert O'Connor, Jr. issued what he termed as a word of warning about compliance with security plans in Red Hook.
"I hope that we are in compliance with the plan that was committed in reference to security," O'Connor said. "I have my doubts, because we have been fined before for security over there. Look at the plan and make sure we are in compliance — ASAP."
The board also went through its financial report for the year, up to June. Operating expenses stood at $37 million with revenues of $33.5 million and an operating loss of $3.5 million.
Compared with May 2007, revenues were up by more than10 percent, but expenditures increased by more than 14 percent.
Charging off long-term debts, some of which had been on the books since 2000, the board directed staff to look into engaging a debt-collection agency to recoup some of the nearly $610,000.
In other action, the board cleared the way for the institution of a 25-cent passenger fee between Red Hook and St. John.
"The fees were approved before, but never implemented," Finch said. "Its not popular, but we have the right to do it and the need to do it."
The fee will help support the new $10.5 million ferry terminal at Red Hook, Finch noted. Port Authority staff was directed to develop implementation of the fee.
The board was silent on the issue of fees from Charlotte Amalie to St. John, O'Connor said.
Getting its first look at the budget for the 2007 fiscal year, the board reviewed the draft budget in executive session, but did not make the draft public.
The draft represents huge implications because of reduction of costs, impacting all spending, Finch said before the executive session.
"We will continue to look at budget proposals," said board member and Attorney General Vincent Frazer following the executive session.
The board also agreed to a number of requests from Seaborne Airlines, which would allow the company to bring straight-wheeled planes (as opposed to sea planes) into the land-based airports. Seaborne will occupy Bohlke International's hanger at Rolhson airport on St. Croix and the end unit at Cyril E. King Airport. The board directed staff members to iron out the details of the deal.
"We are very pleased that the Port Authority has decided to support Seaborne's efforts to include new airport service from St. Thomas to St. Croix to Isla Grande (Puerto Rico)," said Omer ErSelcuk, president and CEO of Seaborne. "We look forward to working with [them] to add additional service."
The board also approved expenditures of more than $2.4 million, accepting bids from Rosenbauer General Safety Equipment for three fire trucks and from Royal Motors for rapid-intervention vehicles. The board also accepted a bid from Lift-A-Lot Corporation for a disabled-passenger lift.
Seven of the authority's nine board members attended the meeting: Finch, Frazer, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, O'Connor, Cassan Pancham, Darryl A. Smalls and Yvonne E.L. Thraen.
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July 23, 2008 -- The V.I. Port Authority can apply once again for discretionary funds from the Federal Aviation Administration after being barred from the Airport Improvement Program.
The five-year disbarment from the program is estimated to have cost VIPA in the neighborhood of $20 million, according to Kenn Hobson, the authority's interim executive director. At issue was the proximity of the runway at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to the Anquilla landfill.
FAA rules state that runways cannot be within 10,000 feet of a landfill due to its attraction for numbers of birds and other scavengers, Hobson explained.
The citation affected both territorial airports' ability to apply for the funds, Hobson said.
Meeting with FAA officials in Orlando and Atlanta, Hobson provided a schedule for the landfill's closure developed by the V.I. Waste Management Authority.
To complicate matters, the landfill is on Port Authority property, leased to the VIWMA. The FAA reviewed the lease and determined that the Port Authority is not charging VIWMA fair-market value for the property.
"The FAA says you have to get fair-market value for any excess land," Hobson said.
The property will be re-surveyed and appraised to clear up discrepancies in the existing lease.
"This open door to discretionary funds is hinged on reliance of the FAA relative to the closing of the landfill," said board member Gordon A. Finch. "And the door will shut really fast if Waste Management doesn't stop the landfill. The Port Authority needs to start charging Waste Management fair-market value for use of premises in St. Croix. Those are the two big criteria if we are to remain eligible for discretionary funds."
The board also reviewed reductions in FAA fines assessed for unfavorable conditions of the taxiway at Rohlson Airport.
"I just hope that it is the last time [for the fines]," Finch said.
Board members concurred with Finch about ways to ensure compliance with FAA and other regulations.
Board member Robert O'Connor, Jr. issued what he termed as a word of warning about compliance with security plans in Red Hook.
"I hope that we are in compliance with the plan that was committed in reference to security," O'Connor said. "I have my doubts, because we have been fined before for security over there. Look at the plan and make sure we are in compliance -- ASAP."
The board also went through its financial report for the year, up to June. Operating expenses stood at $37 million with revenues of $33.5 million and an operating loss of $3.5 million.
Compared with May 2007, revenues were up by more than10 percent, but expenditures increased by more than 14 percent.
Charging off long-term debts, some of which had been on the books since 2000, the board directed staff to look into engaging a debt-collection agency to recoup some of the nearly $610,000.
In other action, the board cleared the way for the institution of a 25-cent passenger fee between Red Hook and St. John.
"The fees were approved before, but never implemented," Finch said. "Its not popular, but we have the right to do it and the need to do it."
The fee will help support the new $10.5 million ferry terminal at Red Hook, Finch noted. Port Authority staff was directed to develop implementation of the fee.
The board was silent on the issue of fees from Charlotte Amalie to St. John, O'Connor said.
Getting its first look at the budget for the 2007 fiscal year, the board reviewed the draft budget in executive session, but did not make the draft public.
The draft represents huge implications because of reduction of costs, impacting all spending, Finch said before the executive session.
"We will continue to look at budget proposals," said board member and Attorney General Vincent Frazer following the executive session.
The board also agreed to a number of requests from Seaborne Airlines, which would allow the company to bring straight-wheeled planes (as opposed to sea planes) into the land-based airports. Seaborne will occupy Bohlke International's hanger at Rolhson airport on St. Croix and the end unit at Cyril E. King Airport. The board directed staff members to iron out the details of the deal.
"We are very pleased that the Port Authority has decided to support Seaborne's efforts to include new airport service from St. Thomas to St. Croix to Isla Grande (Puerto Rico)," said Omer ErSelcuk, president and CEO of Seaborne. "We look forward to working with [them] to add additional service."
The board also approved expenditures of more than $2.4 million, accepting bids from Rosenbauer General Safety Equipment for three fire trucks and from Royal Motors for rapid-intervention vehicles. The board also accepted a bid from Lift-A-Lot Corporation for a disabled-passenger lift.
Seven of the authority's nine board members attended the meeting: Finch, Frazer, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, O'Connor, Cassan Pancham, Darryl A. Smalls and Yvonne E.L. Thraen.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.