5/24/2013 County Council commits to fund airport project About $258,000 needed by county to finish runway expansion
A plane sits in a hangar at the New Castle-Henry County Municipal Airport. The Henry County Commissioners agreed to move ahead with funding an extension of the airport. (C-T file photo)
By SARA KOVACH email@example.com
After considerable discussion Wednesday, Henry County Council members agreed to fund the county's portion toward the next phase of the New Castle-Henry County Municipal Airport runway expansion project.
The county committed to fund $7,500 of the $39,000 local match to move forward with the next phase. The total amount over the next five years asked by the county will be $248,000 to finish the project.
Council member Steve Dugger said he agrees the county can afford to move forward at the moment, but down the road sees it impossible.
"I have a hard time seeing us commit a quarter of a million dollars over the next five years," Dugger said. "I remember the first budget hearing I sat on was tough to witness. Department heads were asked to cut everywhere to get by. I know we are doing better currently, but I can't see us doing that."
Dugger said the airport project seems minor compared to what other county departments need.
"I want to see our sheriff department get some new cars. I want to see the highway department get more employees," Dugger said. "I'm not denying the expanded runway would be good for the county. It just looks to be not as important right now."
Council member Clay Morgan disagrees. He said if the county does not commit to move forward, they can "guarantee to put a limit on the potential economic growth."
"For this year, we just need to come up with $7,500 to move this phase," Morgan said. "And in doing that, it says to the FAA that we are on board and want to see this project move forward."
Corey Murphy, Henry County Economic Development Corp. executive director, said the economic impact of the airport for the county is critical.
"There are successful communities in Indiana that market their airport for private investing, so they sell land to private companies," Murphy said. "I don't know if Henry County can do that, but it's something we could look into doing."
Sara Kovach is a staff writer for The Courier-Times. Follow her on Twitter@s_kovach.