Airport may lose $1.4M in funding
Grant requests revised in wake of federal probe
Re-applying for grants for a new administration building at Grand Junction Regional Airport is likely to cost the Airport Authority up to $1.4 million.
The Airport Authority, with sponsorship from Mesa County commissioners and the city of Grand Junction, applied for a $3.7 million Federal Aviation Administration grant in September in hopes of getting money for a $6.2 million building construction project at the airport. The grant application listed the proposed building as a terminal.
Following an FBI raid at the airport in November, airport officials decided the building should actually be classified as an administration and aircraft rescue and firefighting building. Airport Authority board members voted Jan. 14 to rescind the original grant and re-apply for funding with the new building label.
Re-classifying the building means the FAA is likely to grant closer to $2.8 million to $3 million this time, according to Airport Authority Chairman Steve Wood. The amount of a state grant for the project similarly has been downgraded from $1.8 million to $1.18 million, Wood told Mesa County commissioners on Monday.
“The difference will be borne by the airport unless we are able to establish a usage for a portion of building that would increase its eligibility” for grant funding, Wood said.
The Airport Authority may try to find a way to decrease the construction project price, but Wood said so far the board has not had enough time to devote to that pursuit. He added changing the design may add more expense to the project.
County commissioners added their support Monday to the Airport Authority’s effort to back out of the federal grant by voting unanimously to send a letter of support for rescission to the FAA. The Airport Authority authored its own letter and Grand Junction City Council members are expected to do the same.
The FAA will consider the new grant after the original one is rescinded.
Commissioner Steve Acquafresca told Wood he appreciated the Airport Authority board’s willingness to include the county in the rescission process. Commissioner John Justman said he attended the board’s Jan. 14 meeting and agreed with the authority’s decision.
“You got the wrong grant for the wrong project, I think,” Justman said. “You really don’t have a lot of options. ... None of them are great options but under the circumstances this is it.”
Wood said the board decided to rescind rather than attempt to amend the grant based on advice from the state and the FAA. Starting fresh with the proper information on grant documents will help the airport avoid problems procuring government grants in the future and downplay any perception of impropriety, he said.
“There is a collective and strongly held opinion with the board we want to be absolutely certain we do not proceed with anything that is tainted in any way,” Wood said.