The Grayson County Commissioners Court received an update Tuesday on the status of the North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field control tower and its possible inclusion in the Federal Aviation Administration’s contract tower program.
Jamie Baker, director of public policy for U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, provided the update and said the county’s benefit-to-cost-ratio numbers regarding tower spending were up for final review with the federal government. If accepted into the program, the tower could receive $550,000 in annual funding.
“We did get official word…that the BC-ratio numbers have been approved and sent to the Office of Management and Budget for final review,” Baker said. “We don’t really know how long OMB takes to approve these, but it is supposedly the last step in the approval process for North Texas Regional Airport.”
Grayson County first moved to get the control tower into the FAA’s Tower Program in June 2015. The FAA program currently extends federal funds to most of the nation’s air traffic control towers which are stationed at airports that record at least 100,000 operations, or flights, each year.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said NTRA records 80,000 annual operations, but that figure did not include operations which occurred during hours the tower was closed. If those after-hours operations were included in the count, Magers said the tower would surpass the 100,000 mark stipulated by the program. County and airport officials have previously said the desired federal funding would allow the tower to be manned and operated for additional hours each day. The county currently spends between $275,000 and $300,000 each year to staff and operate the tower.
“I think we’re at the weeks or months stage now,” Magers said in regard to when the county could expect an answer. “I don’t want to put a timeline on it because I can’t control the timeline, but I would be surprised if we weren’t in the program by the end of this fiscal year.”
Magers thanked Ratcliffe and his office, as well as U.S. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and Jim Wimberly of Texas Aviation Partners for their work in submitting and supporting the county’s application. He added that federal funding for the tower would eliminate one more expense to taxpayers and stand, in his mind, as a sound investment in a regional resource.
“From a county perspective, the value of that 1,500-acre airport outside the DFW airspace, that’s an asset, long term,” Magers said.