Due to a lack of FAA discretionary funding over the past four years, many of you are experiencing delays in funding for your airport improvement projects. We are well aware of your concerns and ask for your patience as we attempt to fix this problem. This reduction in funding arose as a result of FAA’s Non-Primary Entitlement Program (NPE). The NPE program has had significant benefits in allowing us to fund many needed hangars, fuel systems and other revenue producing projects that our airports badly needed. These projects will help our airports work toward becoming financially self-sustaining, something we all want.
There is also a downside to the NPE Program. The banking of entitlement funds, which is authorized by law, resulted in TxDOT Aviation having a large bank balance of FAA funding. Due to our large bank balance, FAA placed a “moratorium” on discretionary funding, beginning in FY 2013 up to the present. As a result, we have experienced a loss of $35M, so far, in anticipated grant funding which has had a substantial impact on our ability to fund your projects. We are working with the FAA Southwest Region and our Congressional delegation to find a solution to the funding problem. We appreciate your patience as we work through this.
Congress continues to work on reauthorization of FAA programs which expired September 30, 2015. As of the date of this column, near term FAA reauthorization does not look promising, due to several controversial issues. If that does prove to be the case, FAA programs will likely continue by means of a program extension, resulting in FAA grant funding being delayed, then issued to TxDOT Aviation in a piecemeal fashion. Hopefully, after the presidential election and the new Congress is seated next year, FAA reauthorization will move forward rapidly.
The 34th Annual Texas Aviation Conference
Thanks to our host, Montgomery County, and all of you who participated, the recent conference was a big success. In spite of the “Monsoon” that was taking place as we traveled to Conroe, we still had great attendance with over 500 people registered. Thanks to all of you who attended. We will see you next year in San Marcos.