Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The County Airport Commission met on Feb.28 to consider information on a environmental assessment and to review and consider approval of the 2019 Budget. Lee Harris, vice chairman, chaired the meeting by telephone. Harris began by noting that the reason for the absence of Brad Weisenburger, chairman, was due to his father passing away and expressed condolences.

Environmental Assessment
The first item of discussion was an update on an ongoing environmental assessment being done by Burns & McDonnell.
The environmental assessment is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to release property dedicated to aeronautical use for redevelopment as non-aeronautical uses.
JCAC plans to release approximately 671 acres of land, currently in aeronautical use, to convert it to a mix of commercial/office, light industrial, or light manufacturing uses that would benefit from air service and connections to the regional robust transportation network of roads, rail and air.
The assessment was approved by commission in October 2016 has been ongoing throughout 2017. It’s one of many required steps in the approval process, including public input.
Notice of a public meeting has been issued for 5 p.m. on March 26 at the Johnson County Administration Building, Room 201. A 30 day public comment period follows from that date and then another meeting to address public input.
Also needed for this conversion, is a release from a “National Emergency Use Provision” clause the airfield property is subject to as a condition of the original transition from US Navy base to JCAC.
The clause allows federal authorities to reclaim the airfield in a national emergency situation. JCAC is requesting federal agencies grant release for the property to be converted.
Larry Peet, deputy director, said it is expected that all the required processes and approvals should be completed by late June or early July.

Subdivision expansion near airport
Commission considered preliminary and final plat for expansion of an existing residential subdivision on the northeast corner of 159th St. and Quivira Road. This project has been approved by Overland Park but also requires approval from JCAC and Board of County Commissioners as it is within one mile of an airport.
Paul Greeley, county planning department, presented commissioners with information on the proposed development.
To help make sure property owners are aware that aircraft will be operating nearby, Greely said an ‘affidavit of interest’ would be attached to each title record. This disclosure would transfer with title, Commission approved by ‘aye’ vote with none opposed.

2019 Budget
The majority of the meeting was spent in review of the 2019 Budget.
Twenty-one charts and graphs presented actual costs and revenues for 2015-2017, with projections for future years up through 2020. The Debt Service Schedule went to 2035.
2019 Five Year Capitol Improvement Plans were shown, followed by individual examination of cost-revenue reports and projections for each of the JCAC cost centers. Those cost centers include  – two airports (Executive and New Century), New Century ‘s business park, plus water and rail services.
“This goes to show that the business park’s surpluses will often prop up some of our other cost centers that are operating at deficits,” said Kevin Hiskey, chief financial officer.
The water utility has operated at a deficit for the past three years.
The results of a 2017 water rate study recommended a series of rate increases.
“That rate study identified the need to do approximately ten percent rate increases in the water utility rates for several years to come, to dig out of some holes the water utility had dug, some accumulating deficits and to get us back into a surplus situation,” said Hiskey.
The preliminary budget as presented assumed commissioners would accept proposed rate increases for rail and water services, which required separate actions.
After discussion, commission approved the preliminary budget, but with the notation it was still pending final approval of water rates increases.

Grant fund increased
Commissioners considered accepting an increase in grant funds from Kansas to go towards acquisition and installation costs of replacing of the Control Tower Voice Switching System.
Unanticipated costs have arisen that were not considered in original estimates used in considering the Kansas Airport Improvement Program (KAIP) grant.
Peet, said he had met with Robert Brock, KDOT Division of Aviation director, to discuss issues with replacing the system.
“They graciously agreed to increase our KAIP grant to a level of $153,000,” he said.
Peet said the latest bid for replacement was $165,000 and this was a “significant contribution.”
Commission approval to accept was all that was needed. Motion was made and carried with none opposed.

Economic Development Report
During the update from Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation (SWJCEDC), Greg Martinette updated commission on various projects and activity related to the business park.
Martinette said that although nothing has developed yet, people have been looking at the Royal Tractor building. There is also interest in available office, and SWJCEDC continues to work on a large business retention project for New Century.
Martinette said a consultant representing a large food processing firm had recently been interested and toured New Century.
“However, a main component of that was on site cold storage with anhydrous ammonia, so we are no longer part of that project, and I expect to keep seeing that. It’s unfortunate that it’s hurting us. As long as there’s cold storage on site we’re probably not going to be in on those projects,”said Martinette.

At the beginning of the meeting, Aaron Otto, executive director, reported that 1500 sq. ft. of space would become available in June, as Renaissance Infrastructure Consulting has given notice they will be terminating their lease at 2 New Century Pkwy.
“This summer, in June, we’ll have office space, with the best looking parking lot in the county, become available,” said Otto.
During public comments, Mike Dolan, hangar owner, commented on the need for radar in the tower.
Rick Grossman asked about the date he could move back into Hanger T. The answer was that Aug. 6 is the targeted occupancy date.
Aliccia Shelby was introduced as the new administrative customer support assistant with JCAC.