The City of Redwood Falls and its airport commission have been working for some time to address the ongoing budget issues at the municipal airport.

According to Missi Meyer, city director of finance and administrative services, the intent of the discussions being held between the commission, city staff and members of the city council was to make operating adjustments in an effort to make the airport budget whole.

At the end of 2016, the budget showed the airport budget needed $65,867.64 to make its fund whole, but Meyer said the airport was owed $16,867.73 and owed creditors $3,436 leaving a need to transfer $52,436.11 to the airport.

The recommendation was to transfer that amount. 

The money will come from the capital project fund to the airport fund in an effort to make the budget whole.

According to Jim Sandgren, city council member, the local municipal airport is not unique in its budget struggles. He recently attended a meeting of the Minnesota Council of Airports and there learned many airports across the state are facing budget shortfalls in the $80,000-100,000 range.

He added, however, the airport is a valuable asset for a community, adding for some prospective business people looking to move to the area the airport is the first amenity of the city that they see.

Yes, said Sandgren, the airport has issues it needs to address, but he said the current airport commission has demonstrated a commitment to doing that.

The bigger issue, said Sandgren, is the fact that the building erected at the airport has a lot of empty spaces that could be rented out to help with the budget.

The entire upper level of the building is empty, and Sandgren said a major reason no one is interested in leasing that space is that there is no elevator in the building providing access to the second floor. He said there have been people who come to look at it and see there is no elevator and walk right back out.

Other expansion plans have also been discussed by the airport commission that it believes could help the airport to remain within the budget, but the challenge is paying for those improvements. In the end, the council approved the transfer in the hope that it can maintain a balanced budget starting in 2017 and beyond.

In other action during its meeting, the Red-wood Falls city council:

• Approved the purchase of a Philips V60 Noninvasive Ventilator at a cost of $12,995.62.

• Awarded the 2017 seal coating project to Asphalt Surface Technologies Corporation of St. Cloud at a bid of $163,186. According to Andy Kehren of Bolton & Menk, the bids were very competitive due to a couple of factors.

One was the continued low price of oil. The second was the fact that the city was able to salvage aggregate from the previous seal coat projects and then clean that aggregate for use with this project. Kehren said this is the fifth year of a five-year seal coating plan in the city, adding the project area this year consists of all of the streets west of Gould Street and south of Broadway (TH67) and those streets west of the Bridge Street bridge. The work is scheduled to be done in August.

• Approved a conditional use permit for Chris Schablin doing business as Southwest Auto and RV to operate an auto sales and service dealership at 901 East Bridge Street (the vacant area east of the VFW). Schablin said he is planning to construct a new building on that site.

• Approved the employment of Aaron Clancy as an officer with the Redwood Falls Police Department.

• Approved a real estate agreement for the Redwood Area Hospital to purchase the property at 512 Veda Drive at a cost of $228,500 with closing costs and partial fees. According to Bryan Lydick, Redwood Area Hospital CEO, the purchase of those property helps to address the space issues the hospital continues to face in its existing location.