The control tower at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field could be funded by the Federal Aviation Administration by year’s end, officials with the airport said Thursday. The news came as part of the airport manager’s report during a meeting of the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority.

Once accepted into the contract tower program, the funding for staffing of NTRA’s control tower would be provided by the FAA and could allow for additional hours of service, officials previously said.

Efforts to get the control tower into the program date back at least five years. In April, officials formally announced the airport was a candidate for inclusion in the program.

“Obviously, this is huge for us because the county pays $250,000 to $300,000 in salaries each year,” NTRA Director Bob Torti said.

Torti said airport officials have been in conversations with the FAA since, and have been discussing what improvements and upgrades the tower needs in order to be included in the program. From these conversations, the airport was presented a four to five page list of recommended improvements.

“So, with this, we are out of Washington and into the local FAA,” Torti said, regarding the progress into the tower program.

This list includes a variety of improvements, ranging from certified window shades to communications equipment and security upgrades. Torti said he will soon be consulting with Robinson Aviation, who provides contracted control tower service through the FAA program, to determine what the needs are and the lowest cost.

Over the years, NTRA has used numerous strategies to increase its odds of getting into the program, including speaking to local representatives, and other lobbying efforts. Most recently, Texas Aviation Partners was contracted for management services of the airport in 2016. Among the duties of Texas Aviation Partners was pushing the airport through the program.

Texas Aviation Partners also has previous experience working with Robinson, Torti said, noting he is optimistic of what the results of these conversations will be.

While the airport is preparing to bid out and assess the needs, Torti said it is also comparing this to the minimum equipment list; the bare minimum that is recommended for the tower, or airport and flight equipment.

Torti said there is the possibility that a new control tower could be built in the next few years. With that in mind, Torti said airport officials are trying to be pragmatic on the investments they make in the current tower.

“If a new tower is in the future, we don’t want to spend $50,000 when it doesn’t need to get done,” Torti said.

However, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the county has no plans in the near future to build a new tower. If a new tower was to be built, it would be funded primarily by the FAA and the Texas Department of Transportation with small local contribution.

“I am not planning on building a new tower,” Magers said Thursday. “I am about getting our existing tower up to snuff right now.”