The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport Board voted Tuesday to approve its 2019-2020 fiscal year budget.
The budget will raise governmental contributions from Cookeville, Sparta, Putnam County, and White County slightly to help cover local grant matches for hangar projects within the next year.
Airport Manager Dean Selby said projects include additional storage space in preparation for larger projects down the road.
“The next year, we’ll come in and we’ll set the tanks and we’ll move jet fuel over there,” Selby said. “That’s another project, and then the third year will be taking the tanks out of the ground and replacing the gas. That way it’s not a huge expense all at once. It’s like $10,000 this year, $10,000 the next year, and $10,000 the next year rather than it being a huge expense all at once.”
Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton expressed his concern over the state of the airport’s current hangars, saying the airport receives little money in return for such large projects.
“We spend a lot of money on hangars that generate very little income and take 30 years to pay back,” Shelton said. “That is something I have inherently tried to grasp, and we spend a lot of money to house airplanes that are very vital to here. Obviously, we’ve got an economic development side and a recreational use side to it too. We’ve spent a lot of money on hangars and we’ve adjusted those rental rates. All of us will have to present it to our governments and see what they want to do.”
The budget also includes nearly $88,000 from country music singer Aaron Tippin, who will pay the local grant match and total grant cost of building a hanger for a warbird restoration business at the airport.
The Board voted unanimously to approve the budget while Sparta Mayor Jeff Young was absent from Wednesday’s meeting. Cookeville, Sparta, Putnam County, and White County will all need their governing bodies to approve their contributions in the coming months.