Councilmember Julia Stuble called it a “stopgap measure,” expressing a desire to find an “ongoing” source of funding to support commercial air service in Fremont County in the future.
“(This) is something the council needs to take seriously during our budgeting process,” Stuble said during a meeting last week. “(This is) not going to be a continued source of money.”
Councilmember Melinda Cox said she would like to get to a place where commercial air service is able to “function on the funding that they receive” already.
Twenty percent of revenues collected from the half percent sales tax countywide already go to support commercial air service, and Cox said “it is a little bit of a burden to bear to ask the municipalities (to) continue to supplement this.”
“I certainly want to move forward (so) that we’re not supplementing funding for the airport anymore,” she said. “I’d hope that at some (point) it’s not the municipality’s responsibility anymore.”
In response to Cox’s statement, Councilman John Larsen said “I agree with you,” but he also added that commercial air service “is an important thing for the county.”
“To say, ‘Right here, OK, this is your last go-round here guys, so enjoy,’ – I struggle to make that kind of comment,” he said. “Because we may have to nursemaid this thing around for a while.”
“I believe you’re right,” Councilmember Dan Hahn told Larsen. “I think that we do what we can. And definitely the tax, the half cent, (is) really, really helping. If we lose that, it’s going to be scary. … Because if we lose it, it’s probably not coming back.”
Stuble noted that the Fremont Air Service Taskforce had asked for $145,000 – not $141,000 – so if the group “comes back” and says the missing $4,000 is needed, the council might have to have “another conversation” about using “more carryover” that accrues in Lander’s half percent sales tax account over the coming months.
City staff said the $141,000 figure represents the amount of half percent sales tax revenues that have gone “unspent” since Lander began receiving the funding.
“We didn’t get applications enough to use everything that we had collected,” city treasurer Charri Lara explained. “So that’s just a carryover since this tax started.”
For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.