Laurel Airport receives funding for pavement rehabilitation

Thursday, March 12, 2020
Planes sit on the tarmac at the Laurel Airport Wednesday. The airport will receive a state grant for rehabilitating the runway. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Planes sit on the tarmac at the Laurel Airport Wednesday. The airport will receive a state grant for rehabilitating the runway. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

The Montana Aeronautics Board met to award $3,650,000 in loans and grants to various Montana airports on Jan. 16, as part of its annual loan and grant program. This is significantly higher than previous years due to the passing of House Bill 661 in the 2019 Legislative session. HB661 increased the funding for the grant program by increasing the fuel tax on fuel sold to commercial and general aviation aircraft in Montana from $0.04/gallon to $ 0.05/gallon. Additionally, the bill repealed the $0.02/gallon rebate to scheduled passenger carrying airlines.

That increased the amount for grants to $3.3 million and $350,000 in loans for disbursement this year for aviation projects around the state. Laurel’s airport received $37,350 for pavement rehabilitation.

There was only $270,000 available for grants last year and the most available for grants in the last ten years was $435,000. The Board awarded funds for 102 out of a total of 108 different project requests across 34 Montana public airports including federally and non-federally funded projects. This will provide much needed improvements to airport infrastructure in Montana.

Most of the money awarded in grants and loans each year goes to leverage 90/10 Federal (FAA) match dollars for airport construction projects, but there is usually a significant percentage awarded for nonfederal airport projects as well. Applications for loans and grants are open from July 1st through November 15th each year. The money is typically awarded in January of the following year and the funds become available at the beginning of the state’s next fiscal year, July 1.

The nine members of the Montana Aeronautics Board have sole responsibility for awarding loan and grant funds. The members of the Aeronautics Board are: Tricia McKenna, Chair; Robert Buckles, Member; Dan Hargrove, Member; William (Bill) Hunt, Jr., Member; Roger Lincoln, Member; John Maxness, Member; Walt McNutt, Member; Tom Schoenleben, Member; and Jeff Wadekamper, Member.

This program is open to all public-use airports except for federally owned or privately owned airports and the money can be used for any qualifying airport or aviation related project. For more information regarding the program, contact Karen Speeg at 406) 444-9569 or Wade Cebulski at (406) 444-9581.

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