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Airport tapped for federal infrastructure funding

It was announced last week by the office of U.S. Sen. Jackie Rosen that part of $60.9 million allocated for Nevada airports would make its way to Boulder City.

Authorized as part of the federal infrastructure law passed in 2021, the Airport Infrastructure Grant Program will be the source of nearly $1.9 million in funding for the municipal airport.

“Nevada’s airports serve as gateways to our communities and our many world-class tourist destinations, boosting our travel and tourism economy,” said Rosen. “I was proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure this much-needed funding for Nevada’s airports and help support our economy and jobs.”

While the vast majority of the funding —$46 million —is going to Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Boulder City is getting more funding than any other airport in the state with the exception of almost $7 million slated to go to the Reno/Tahoe International Airport.

The Henderson Executive Airport and the North Las Vegas Airport each got $851,000 and 25 other airports in Nevada are getting grants of between $113,000 and $294,000 each.

According to city staff, the Airport Infrastructure Grant Program is a part of the BILS (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) funding allocation and not entitlement funding for the Airport Improvement Program Grants.

“The $1.9 million is the BILS funding allocation for the Airport Infrastructure Grant Program, which is a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said City Manager Taylour Tedder. “This funding will go toward eligible airport capital improvement projects, like the design and construction of the tower. We appreciate the support we receive from Senator Jacky Rosen and federal lawmakers.”

The Boulder City Municipal Airport is FAA-chartered and, as such, receives much of its funding for federal sources. While that is a stable source of funding and means that the facility does not have to be paid for by general city funds, it also has limitations.

As pointedly referenced from the dais by multiple members of the city council in the wake of public controversy surrounding the amount charged for leasing hangar space, any funds the city takes in from airport operations go into an enterprise fund, which can only be used for airport operations and expenses.

Most of the FAA funding comes with a requirement that the airport itself (i.e., the city) come up with 10% in matching funds, those funds come out of the enterprise fund.

By definition, an enterprise fund is limited to funding the enterprise from which the revenue comes. The city can’t transfer airport revenue to the general fund. Doing so would cut it off from FAA funding.

With a very similar name but a different funding source, the city has also included about $1.2 million from the Airport Improvement Grant Program in its plan for Fiscal year 2024 capital project spending to fund the design of a control tower.

This tranche of FAA funding is part of the stream that comes in annually and is referred to as entitlement spending.

According to city staff, the airport gets between $1.7 and $1.9 million annually from that source, which is also set aside for large projects such as the proposed tower as well as runway construction and improvement.

Contact reporter Bill Evans at wevans@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401.

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