Longmont Airport Critics Converge on City Budget Hearing
Half a dozen people showed up at Longmont City Council’s Tuesday night hearing on the proposed 2019 city budget to complain about the past and potential expenses of operating Vance Brand Municipal Airport.
Many of those airport critics also have made appearances at past council meetings to complain about the noise from aircraft using the facility, particularly that from the operations of Mile Hi Skydiving.
“I really want to encourage you not to throw good money after bad,” Twin Peaks Circle resident Steve Allen said of next year’s city spending on the municipal airport.
He charged that the airport “basically lives on corporate welfare” such as grants and subsidies from elsewhere in the city budget.
The Airport Fund, one of the dozens of accounts in the city budget, would contain $306,242 within the overall $362.79 million spending package city staff has recommended for next year.
Gayle Allen, also a Twin Peaks Circle resident, said the airport should be self-sufficient, with revenues from hangar rentals and other user income covering expenses.
However, “the airport is not pulling its own weight” under current Longmont budget and financial policies, Gayle Allen contended.
Gunbarrel resident Kimberly Gibbs, the founder of Citizens for Quiet Skies and a longtime critic of noise from the Mile-Hi Skydiving company that operates from the airport, said the facility is a financial burden on federal, state and local taxpayers.
Gibbs, who lives on Mount Sherman Road, said a change in what the airport charges for use of a drop zone area that Mile-Hi’s skydivers use for their landings hasn’t generated as much revenue as the city intended.
Ed Ruskus, a resident of Majestic Drive south of the city, specifically complained about noise from the aircraft using the airport, as did Joann Burton, a resident of Longmont’s Snowberry Street.
“I am a citizen,” Ruskus said. “Help us out.”
Burton thanked council members for addressing residents’ concerns about train noise by tentatively earmarking $380,000 in next year’s budget to pay for planning and designing railroad crossing quiet zones.
Burton suggested council also create some sort of “quiet zone” to reduce aircraft noise from planes using the airport, particularly Mile-Hi’s skydiving aircraft.
She also questioned why the city is subsidizing the airport’s operating cost “when we have so many other needs in the community.”
Scott Stewart, a Grant Street resident who also has made a number of appearances at council meetings to question airport operations and budgets, asked: “Does this airport stand on its own, or not?”
Steve Allen suggested the city shift its transportation funding to “good public commuter transit,” which he said Longmont needs and should be its priority.
Later in the meeting, Councilwoman Joan Peck also questioned why the city wasn’t getting enough income from rentals of its parachute-landing drop zone as the council had expected.
City Manager Harold Dominguez reported that staff is working on the rate structure for the drop zone.
City council members, who are in the process of reviewing the staff’s spending proposals prior to adopting a 2019 budget next month.
Another public hearing on the budget is set for Tuesday, during a 7 p.m. study session in the Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St.
John Fryar: 303-684-5211, email@example.com or twitter.com/jfryartc