The Grayson County Commissioners Court agreed to renew its contract with Advanced ATC Inc. Tuesday for its services in staffing the terminal at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field. The county currently pays $275,000 per year to have the tower staffed.
County Judge Bill Magers said it is likely the county will continue to have to pay to staff the airport for an additional year even though a lot of work as been put into getting the airport into the Federal Aviation Administration’s contract tower program.
Magers said the county’s airport has had enough traffic to be part of that federal program for years but it has yet to be accepted into the program.
Magers went to Washington, D.C. in June to check on the status of the airport’s application to the program. Magers previously said he’d received an email from the transportation director from the office of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that stated that by the end of the next fiscal year, they expect NTRA will have been added to the contract tower program. Magers told the county commissioners in July that the control tower at NTRA is the only one in the entire country that is entirely funded by its owner. The county currently spends $300,000 a year to operate the tower, including maintenance and staffing.
Another correspondence Magers read Tuesday came from American Association of Airport Executives Senior Executive Vice President Spencer Dickerson and said, “We have very good news to report on contract tower funding. The House appropriations committee approved last night the DOT, FAA appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 that includes, $160 million, $3 million more than the final fiscal year 2016 and mandatory spending for the program.”
Tuesday, Magers said congress is still agreeing to that funding but that is the only change that is expected to be approved for the next six months.
“Instead of taking up the FFA funding bill, Congress has decided to once again kick the can down the road for another six months,” he said.
In moving to allow the county to continue to pay for the tower staffing, Grayson County Commissioner Jeff Whitmire expressed his apparent frustration.
“It is one of those things that just drives me crazy to continue doing but until the feds play their part, I guess we will continue,” Whitmre said before Commissioner Phyllis James seconded the motion.
Commissioners David Whitlock and Bart Lawrence were not at the meeting Tuesday because they were attending commissioner’s school in Austin. The matter passed unanimously and the county will continue to fund the tower for another year.