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North Platte Airport Authority board approves 2020-21 budget
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North Platte Airport Authority board approves 2020-21 budget

Lee Bird Field can be supported on federal funds

Patrons of the Lincoln Highway Diner can watch planes fly in and out of the restaurant’s location at Lee Bird Field, just east of North Platte on U.S. Highway 30. The airport didn’t have 10,000 enplanements this past year, the requirement to be designated a primary airport and receive $1 million in federal aid.

The North Platte Airport Authority board Monday approved a $4.03 million 2020-21 budget that asks for less property tax money to support the North Platte Regional Airport.

Next year’s budget is 56.6% lower than the $9.28 million budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to the Airport Authority’s budget document.

The airport’s property tax request will be $1.11 million, 4.1% below its 2019-20 level. Its 2020-21 tax rate will be 6.87 cents per $100 of taxable value, 5% lower than last year.

Both were approved Sept. 3 by the City Council, which is separate from the Airport Authority but must levy the airport’s property taxes along with its own.

State law limits the combined city-airport tax rate to 50 cents per $100 but doesn’t count taxes to repay bonds against that lid.

Next year’s combined rate will be 51.14 cents per $100, counting bond repayments for both governments.

The airport board’s annual budgets regularly fluctuate up and down, depending on each year’s annual projects receiving at least 90% funding from the federal Airport Improvement Program.

Airport Manager Sam Seafeldt said the airport routinely issues bonds to finance its 10% local shares of AIP projects. Bonds for previous work were refinanced this year to cut interest costs, he said.

Work has been completed on last year’s $5 million taxiway repaving project, which mostly accounted for last year’s leap in approved spending, Seafeldt said.

Between AIP funds and COVID-19 aid for airports, the federal government will fully fund a snow-removal “broom truck” and a long-range airport master plan during 2020-21, he added.

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