by Bill Mardis Commonwealth Journal
by Bill Mardis Commonwealth Journal
BY RUSS CASSADY
After months of waiting, the controversy over whether coal severance funding should be used to finance a commercial air service project at the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport ended Friday when it was announced that $1 million had been allocated to the project.
In a press conference at Pikeville City Hall on Friday, representatives of the groups working to establish commercial air service at the airport gathered to make the announcement, made official by a statement from Gov. Steve Beshear that the project would receive the funding.
“The face of Pikeville is forever changing,” he said. The commitment of $1 million in multi-county coal severance funding, Blackburn said, brings the total that those working on establishing the service have to $1.75 million, which will be used to establish a revenue guarantee program for the carrier which commits to coming to Pike County.
And, with the commitment, the air service could be established fairly quickly, according to Luke Schmidt, the consultant hired by the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, City of Pikeville and Pikeville-Pike County Airport Board to work on establishing the service.
“It’s imperative that we step up … and create a climate conducive to new investment,” Arnett said.
A statement from Beshear’s office said the successful recruitment of an airline will “significantly enhance economic development efforts and the creation of new jobs not only in Pikeville and Pike County, but also in the surrounding 12 counties.”
One of the “No” voters, Dist. 6 Magistrate Chris Harris compared the funding, which will guarantee revenue for an airline, to “corporate welfare.”
“Many of us here would like to see commercial air service in Pike County; that’s not the issue,” Harris said during a fiscal court meeting. “The issue is, ‘At what cost do we want to see commercial air service in Pike County?’ At a time when we are looking at a loss of jobs, declining tax revenue, a limited amount of funding, I don’t think Pike County, right now, I don’t think we can afford this kind of project.”
Both Blackburn and Schmidt spent time on Friday thanking Pike Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and Floyd Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall for their support. Blackburn said that a formal check presentation ceremony for the funding, which will include Beshear’s presence will be held at a later date.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. — The Pikeville/Pike County Airport came a step closer to commercial air service with the announcement of $1 million in grants from the Kentucky Department for Local Government from multi-county coal severance tax money.
The grant will be awarded once an airline is selected to provide commercial air service to the airport (PBX).
In addition, a Federal Small Aviation Grant granted the Pikeville City Commission received in 2011 was granted an extension of the $750,000 grant that was received for commercial air service last year, bringing the total of funds for the airport to $1.75 million.
Two commercial airlines have expressed interest in serving PBX, although both companies have remained anonymous.
Recruiting an airline to provide commercial service is one of the purpose of the grant. One of the methods of recruiting an airline is a revenue stream package. An airline doing business in the county would set a financial goal for each month. If the company falls short, money from the revenue guarantee package would be used to bring the amount of money the airline makes up to the monthly goal. The money would be given to the airline on a monthly basis so the company would not incur financial losses during the first two years of operation.
Luke Schmidt of LB Schmidt Associates, a consulting company which has been working with the City of Pikeville and the East Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on the airport project, said the revenue stream package is essential to an airline.
“It is expensive to for an airline to start a new route,” Schmidt said. “They have to invest in new planes, employees, equipment. If they lose too much money too soon, they aren’t going to stay. We need to make it profitable sooner rather than later.”
The grant was obtained after garnering support from the Floyd and Pike Counties Fiscal Courts.
However, the support of the Pike Court was not unanimous vote. Two of the six magistrates on the Court were not in favor of asking for coal severance tax money for the airport. Both Chris Harris and Jeff Anderson said they felt the airport would not be profitable. After initially refusing to throw his support behind the request for coal severance funds, Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford did vote in favor of the request.
Millions of dollars have already been used in the development of PBX, Pikeville City Manage Donovan Blackburn said, including $3,383,971 to complete the parallel taxiway alongside the airport’s primary runway, $330,513 in improvements and repairs to the primary runway, 679,000 for a new nine-aircraft T-hangar and $109,304 for the installation of a new Automated Weather Observation System.
Jared Arnette, President of the East Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said the airport is the result of groups working together.
“This is the best example I have ever seen of teamwork,” Arnette said. “Our businesses spoke in one voice. The airport is part of the vision of economic development, they see value of a commercial airport. It is a milestone we have reached. In a time when people are concerned with energy, it is important to step up and say we are creating opportunity.”
Multi-county coal severance tax grant to support new airline service at the Pikeville – Pike County Regional Airport
PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Department for Local Government today announced a pledge of a $1 million multi-county coal severance tax grant to the city of Pikeville. The grant will be used to support the development of new airline service at the Pikeville – Pike County Regional Airport (PBX).
Pikeville’s elected officials, along with the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board and the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce have been spearheading efforts to develop scheduled passenger airline service at the Pikeville field for more than two years. The grant will be awarded once an airline is selected to provide the public service. The proceeds of the grant will be matched with a $750,000 federal grant that the city of Pikeville received last year, and will be used as part of the project’s revenue guarantee program to assist a carrier in reaching sustainability during the start-up phase of service.
“So far, two airlines have expressed interest in serving PBX,” said Gov. Beshear. “Local officials have demonstrated strong leadership on this project, and the Commonwealth is pleased to partner with the community and airport officials to support ongoing efforts to develop new airline service.”
The grant will play an important role in the final stage of recruiting an airline to PBX. The successful recruitment of an airline will significantly enhance economic development efforts and the creation of new jobs not only in Pikeville and Pike County but also in the surrounding 12 counties.
“This is great news for our community,” said Sen. Ray Jones of Pikeville. “This grant puts us further down the road toward our goal of establishing scheduled airline service at PBX.”
“I want to thank Governor Beshear for his support of this important community goal,” said Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville. “We’re getting closer to our goal of new airline service to a major connecting hub which will truly connect Pikeville and Pike County to the global economy.”
“Our city appreciates the support of Governor Beshear and the Commonwealth,” said Pikeville Mayor Pro-Tem Jimmy Carter. “New airline service at PBX will help us to create new jobs in the coalfield.”
“The Commonwealth has been a wonderful partner at PBX ever since the field first opened in 1983,” said Bill Hickman, Chairman of the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board. “This is yet another confirmation of this partnership as the airport continues to grow and serve the community.”
“New airline service at PBX will make it much easier for our business and professional community to compete in the global economy,” said Jared Arnett, president and CEO of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “This grant helps us get closer to our goal of securing service.”
“This project enjoys widespread support,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC and consultant to the project’s leadership group. “Airline service will be a real game-changer for this community. I want to also thank Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and Floyd County Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall for their support of our grant application.”
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – It is a project that has been in the works for quite a while and on Friday, officials in the city of Pikeville announced they have been able to secure funding to bring commercial air service to eastern Kentucky.
“If it’s ever going to happen, this is going to be the time,” said Jared Arnett, President/CEO of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Officials said that time has come.
“It’s just not conducive to the global economy to not have ticketed service right here locally,” said Arnett.
Arnett and many others said it was the time for officials to announce $1 million in multi-county coal severance money has been set aside to help bring commercial air service to the region.
City officials said it is an economic boost that will help industrial parks within the region. He said when they are told the closest airports are in Lexington or Louisville, it changed the game for some.
“When these site developers say ‘we want to come look at it’ and when we tell them you have to fly in and drive three hours, we really don’t even get into negotiation stage,” said Arnett.
“If we could have the opportunity where they could fly right in, see our sites, it would make a tremendous difference.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Jimmy Carter of the City of Pikeville said it will affect more than a dozen surrounding counties.
“This definitely makes us the hub of eastern Kentucky and with commercial air service, it solidifies the whole deal,” said Carter.
The project’s consultant said carriers must agree before the project fully takes off.
“We are in a great position to go and make our final push on recruiting with the two airlines who have expressed interest in this market so our intent to be now to get in front of them as quickly as we can,” said Luke Schmidt.
Schmidt said they could know that answer by March of next year and if the two considering commercial carriers commit by then, it will likely take six months to a year from then for the services to begin.
Officials said this million is in addition to a $750,000 federal grant which has already been set aside for the project.
Article originally posted to the Lexington Herald-Leader Web site http://www.kentucky.com/2012/08/24/2309254/sensible-ruling-on-liquor-sales.html#storylink=cpy
By Friday, Aug. 31, information regarding installation of a commercial flight from the Somerset airport will be ready.
Information will be released from a survey that has been taken in the Corbin, London and Somerset areas to help with the decision whether or not to seek a commercial flight.
In February, the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation began to survey 15 counties in the area.
The counties have a population of 384,000.
Martin Shearer, executive director of the foundation, said, “Business and industry leaders throughout the region have asked repeated when air service will be restored” at Somerset.
He added that “A bigger reason is that all of us in the community, from a business and economic standpoint, should be able to make our existing business and travel connections.”
The nearest commercial flight locations are at Lexington to the north and Knoxville, Tenn. to the south.
He also said that if local commercial flight will be out and in at the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport, it could boost the future of economic develop in the region.
There has been no charter service at either the Somerset or London fields for several years.
So, Shearer said, commercial flights will simplify travel efforts to get to and from the Somerset area.
Luke B. Schmidt, who worked up the first survey, said he is in the middle of a more detailed survey sent by e-mail in the past week.
That went to every member of the Somerset, London and Corbin chambers of commerce as well as members of industrial communities in each city.
He added, “This second survey builds on the first and is to provide a bit more information regarding demand for air service in southern Kentucky.”
In the first survey, the Lexington airport is the regular airport for travelers from this region followed by Louisville and Cincinnati.
Survey participants want air service to key business destinations.
The participants recognized that having reliable airline service in Somerset is good. It would eliminate early morning drives to Lexington.
And for air service to be successful, service to a major connecting hub is needed.
Schmidt encouraged business and professional people who have received the current survey to complete it and return it to him no later than Aug. 31.
Radcliff is wading back into the waters of unified government.
Savitch, a professor of urban and public affairs at the University of Louisville, published an analysis last year of the merger of Louisville and Jefferson County governments into a consolidated metro government in 2003. Savitch’s study, which was commissioned by state Rep. Darryl Owens of Louisville, found the merger failed to accelerate job growth and economic development as promised and was unsuccessful in streamlining government services.
Owens, an opponent of merged government, commissioned the study as a supplement for the task force appointed by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to study the effectiveness of consolidated government in Kentucky’s largest city.
Duvall said he wants to present an alternative view on unification from an expert who has studied consolidated governments for years and can present quantifiable data rather than opinion.
“He has told me his opinion won’t factor in,” he said of Savitch.
Anyone in a leadership position asked to vote on creating a unification commission should attend the meeting or recuse themselves from the process, Duvall said.
In addition to the Louisville report, Savitch is a former co-editor at the Journal of Urban Affairs and former president of the urban section of the American Political Science Association. He also has published nearly a dozen books or monographs on urban development, public policy and regional governance, according to Radcliff.
Radcliff City Council approved a resolution opting out of all formal discussions about unified local government after publicly challenging Hardin County United, the volunteer organization that drafted the report on the merits of unification.
In one exchange last August during a forum at Meadow View Elementary School, Duvall and Radcliff Councilman Edward Palmer asked for demographic information of the group surveyed by HCU about unified government to determine where the majority of respondents lived. Palmer said this information was pertinent to city leaders because they needed to know how Radcliff residents responded.
Luke Schmidt, a consultant for HCU, sent the survey to more than 100 community leaders across a cross section of fields, including elected officials, educators, plant managers and agricultural representatives. The study found roughly 90 percent of respondents believed unified government should be studied.
Schmidt said he promised respondents the information would remain confidential and refused to release the documents, which furthered the divide between HCU and Radcliff.
Following Radcliff’s decision to opt out of unification, Palmer and other council members expressed interest in hosting its own town hall meetings and public forums on unification as a means of due diligence but also to ensure HCU cannot use their lack of action as a weapon.
Duvall said Savitch’s study of Louisville government is relevant to the discussion in Hardin County because HCU has pointed to Louisville as an example of a successful merger.
Duvall said proponents of the Louisville merger and HCU also have argued the same points when promoting unification, including an expanded state and national profile, the ability to speak with one voice and an increase in economic development.
“I think we need to hear a different view that’s not opinion or (not) someone that’s a paid consultant but is based on facts and numbers,” he said.
The meeting has attracted attention farther south. Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker said he is reading Savitch’s study and has forwarded it to Elizabethtown City Council.
“I plan on being at the meeting on Aug. 27 and I hope the council will be too,” Walker said.
Elizabethtown has taken no action to opt out of unified government but the majority of the council has been critical of the plan.
Hardin Circuit Judge Ken Howard, chairman of the HCU governance subcommittee, has said either Elizabethtown or Radcliff must opt in for unification to be viable.
Hardin Fiscal Court is scheduled to hear first reading of an ordinance Tuesday to establish a unification review commission, whose members would be appointed by participating governments and be tasked with drafting a charter Hardin County residents would vote on.
Should the county approve the creation of the commission, HCU would move to the six cities requesting their participation.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (270) 505-1762 firstname.lastname@example.org.