The Adirondack Regional Airport in Harrietstown.
The Harrietstown Town Board will be headed downstate this month to speak with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials and formally discuss the status of the town’s financially-strapped Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear.
Meanwhile, board members recently formed a citizens’ airport committee to help the board seek ways to make the property more financially stable, and they are drafting a response to the New York State Comptroller’s audit of the airport, released Jan. 10, that cites accounting problems with the facility’s fuel inventory, related sales tax reporting, and accounting for capital projects.
Supervisor Larry Miller told Town Board members at the Jan. 26 meeting that he has been in contact with the FAA on Long Island and state of New York officials to let them know the town was interested in holding a public meeting about turning the Adirondack Regional Airport over to Franklin County. One FAA official said Harrietstown’s story about running an airport during rough financial times is not a new one.
“He told me that there are a lot of little airports like us who are in a world of hurt,” Miller said. “They’re getting a lot of feedback from the northeastern United States. There are a lot of little airports in trouble.”
The Town Board gave Airport Manager Corey Hurwitch permission to travel to Jamaica, N.Y. to visit with FAA officials on Feb. 13 to formally discuss the airport’s status “and to gather help, support and ideas” about how to sustain the facility. The supervisor will make the trip as well.
In other airport news, the Town Board approved Ray Scollin’s proposal to create a citizens’ airport committee to “think outside of the box” and help town officials brainstorm ways to make the Adirondack Regional Airport more financially stable.
“The purpose of the committee is to look at the airport from a perspective other than from within the town government,” Scollin said. “Our focus would be to review current operational practices as they relate to cost.”
The committee’s primary objective is to develop ideas that could lead to either a cost-neutral airport or significantly lowering the impact on the town budget.
“We want to consider everything,” Scollin said, adding that the committee will have a six-month timeline to come up with suggestions.
Members of the seven-member committee are Scollin, Joe Spadaro, Joe Pickreign, Dennis Dwyer, Councilman Bob Bevilacqua, a resident or official from the town of North Elba, and the airport manager.
In early January, the state Comptroller’s Office released an audit of the Adirondack Regional Airport’s fuel inventory and capital projects in which it made three significant findings and suggested three ways to alleviate the problems.
Here are the key findings:
-The Airport could not account for 2,965 gallons of Jet A fuel costing $10,345 and 1,053 gallons of aviation gasoline costing $4,260 for the period Jan. 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011.
-The former bookkeeper failed to correctly complete the quarterly sales tax returns filed for the period September 2007 through December 2010, resulting in sales tax payments that exceeded the town’s actual sales tax obligations by approximately $162,000.
-The comptroller’s office found no evidence that the Town Board identified the projects to be undertaken, established authorized amounts, or identified the funding sources for nine projects totaling $3.5 million.
Here are the key recommendations:
-Ensure that airport management implements procedures for the daily reconciliations of fuel sales records to a physical inventory of the actual fuel on hand.
-Develop written procedures for the sales tax reporting process and assign someone separate from the preparation to review the returns for accuracy.
-Authorize each capital project by defining the project to be undertaken, establishing a maximum amount to be spent, and identifying the financing sources.