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Council moves forward with financing of airport project
Turlock Airport pic
The runway at the City of Turlock-owned airport does not currently meet the Federal Aviation Administration's design standards of 60 feet in width, falling short by 10 feet. - photo by Journal file photo

One of the first things the newly seated Turlock City Council did on Tuesday was accept a grant agreement with the Federation Aviation Administration and a revised loan agreement to the Turlock Regional Aviation Association so that a much-needed runway widening project could continue at the Turlock Municipal Airport.

The runway at the City of Turlock-owned airport, which is located approximately 9 miles east of the city along East Avenue at Newport Road, does not currently meet the Federal Aviation Administration's design standards of 60 feet in width, falling short by 10 feet.

The Turlock Municipal Airport has been in operation since the 1940s. From 1942 to 1945 it was an Army Air Training Base in conjunction with the Castle Air Force Base where the student pilots were housed. In July 1947, the airport property was deeded to the City of Turlock.

The nonprofit Turlock Regional Aviation Association operates the City-owned airport under the management of the Turlock Public Facilities Director.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a grant agreement with the FAA for the widening of the runway at the Turlock Municipal Airport and airfield electrical upgrades estimated at $2,304,493. The Council also approved an amended loan agreement with the Turlock Regional Aviation Association in the amount of $76,747 from the General Fund Reserves in order for the organization to receive a matching State grant to help with the runway project. The TAA will repay the loan in the amount of $3,070 a year for the next 25 years.

The Council elected not to approve a staff proposal to reallocate city staff time spent on managing the airport from the airport fund to General Fund in the Public Facilities division budget to allow for continued discussion on the matter, as requested by Council member Matthew Jacob. The council member was concerned with the General Fund absorbing the $8,000 to $10,000 staff time a year that Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder spends on managing the airport.

Mayor Soiseth said that the staff time spent on the airport, and the City's overall vision for the Turlock Municipal Airport, would be addressed at an upcoming strategic planning workshop.

Also on Tuesday, the Council voted to decline the City of Modesto's offer to buy their three satellite water systems located within and adjacent to Turlock to the City of Turlock for over $750K. Turlock City staff recommended passing on the offer for the following reasons:

·         - The Modesto drinking water systems are past their life expectancy and have a number of known deficiencies;

·         - Turlock rate payers would be burdened with the cost of a multi-million dollar capital improvement project to upgrade the Modesto systems; and

·        -  The Water Enterprise Fund reserves have been established by existing rate payers to maintain and enhance Turlock's drinking water system, not to upgrade another agency's water system.

Tuesday was the City Council's last meeting of 2016. The Council's first regular meeting of 2017 is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 10 in the Yosemite Room at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.