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Fayette Airport Authority faces $100,000 deficit to operate airport

| Thursday, July 18, 2013, 7:12 a.m.

The Fayette County Airport Authority is currently facing an estimated $100,000 deficit that occurred during the past six months to operate the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport.

Cathy Malago, temporary office assistant, told authority members Wednesday night she is projecting the deficit could increase by an additional $50,000 during the next six months.

“This is not good news,” authority manager Fred Davis said. “The airport is operating in a deficit situation. We have to figure out ways to increase our income and reduce our expenses. We have been working diligently to turn our financial situation around.”

Despite the deficit, Davis said he does not believe the airport will have to shut down its runways and ground its airplanes.

“We won't have to close down the airport, but we do need to work on turning our financial situation around,” he said.

At the June meeting, authority members directed Malago to prepare a financial report from January through June this year.

“I knew we had a deficit, but I didn't realize how bad it was,” Davis said. “The vendors are working with us because they understand our financial problems. We have a lot of unpaid bills that we need to clean up.”

In the mid-1990s, Davis said the authority faced a $160,000 deficit, but the situation was resolved and the airport actually had a $30,000 surplus by 2008.

“If we did it then, we can do it again,” Davis said. “It's just going to take a while. We can't eliminate a deficit like this in a year or two. It could take us five years to do it.”

“We have to be very careful and watch every decision that we make,” said authority member Sam Cortis, who previously served as the airport manager.

Although the airport is waiting for federal grant funding to become available, Davis said the Federal Aviation Administration has not yet released the money to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aviation.

“Once we receive the grant funding, our cash flow will begin to improve. But we don't have that money yet,” he said.

Following a 15-minute executive session, the authority decided to hire Malago as a part-time office assistant at a salary of $10.50 an hour. Malago will work on an as-needed basis.

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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