June 21, 2012

Budget approved for Mojave Air Space Port

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer

At the June 19 meeting of the East Kern Airport District, the board, which operates the Mojave Air and Space Port approved the 20212-2013 budget. The airport financial years runs July 1 to June 30.

The budget totals $12,608,778 and revenues equal expenses.

In the absence of CEO Stuart Witt who was on a business trip to Washington, D.C., the meeting was conducted by CFO Erika Westawski and Business Manger Kevin Wojtkiewicz.

This year’s budget is 23 percent greater than last year’s. The reason for the increase is the FAA AIP grant for rehabilitation and lighting of runways 4-22. The grant has been awarded but too late to be accepted by the district, so it is not yet official, but has been included in the 2012-2013 budget values.

The grant amount is $4,319,449. Last October the district approved $231,000 for engineering services, so that project design is now construction ready. The airport has allocated the required 5 percent matching amount for the grant.

In addition, the airport anticipates receiving funds from Alta Energy/Terra Gen. The wind farms and Mojave airport recently cooperated on an airport encroachment abatement plan that Kern County has adopted. The power company provided $1.08 million to the district in 2011-2012, and is scheduled to provide $951,621 for this year’s budget. Thee funds will go into a Safety Fund.

The board approved the Safety Fund sub-account. It is to be used for safety purposes, including the purchase of land to prevent encroachment; runway repair and maintenance; purchase of such equipment; and to provide matching grant funds. Funds will be distributed upon approval of the CEO, the CFO and the board.

Many capital equipment purchases are anticipated in the budget.

They include:

  • Electrical and water service to the North side of the airport – $400,000
  • An airfield sweeper to minimize foreign object damage – $198,000
  • Pump house improvements – $109,000
  • Water to the East side of the airport – $100,000
  • Building 58 exterior improvements – $60,000
  • Upgrade airport gates and security cameras – $52,400
  • Purchase a 4,000 gallon water truck [used] – $50,000
  • New telephone system for Admin building – $32,000
  • Backup system for all computers – $30,000
  • Hi Lift access truck [used] – $30,000
  • 2012 Chevy Van [50 percent reimbursed by Kern Air Quality District] – $26,000

The budget also provides $100,000 for an employee early retirement incentive program. It proposes a 2 percent Cost-of-Living increase for all employees, and projects a 10 percent increase in health care premiums, as well as $10,200 due to the district reverting back to a self-insured dental and optical plan.

Directors Dick Rutan and Marie Walker congratulated Westawski on the balanced budget submitted. The other board members joined in.

At the previous board meeting, there was discussion of the California legislative committee passing proposed Bill 2243, introduced by Assemblyman Steve Knight. May 24 the full assembly passed the bill, 73-0. It is now at the Senate Judiciary committee for action. The bill is called The Space Flight Liability and Immunity Act.

The assembly legislative digest is: “Existing state law governs common carriers, including contracts for the conveyance of property, persons, or messages from one place to another. Federal law specifically governs commercial space flight activities. Among other provisions, federal law requires that space flight providers obtain both the written consent of space flight participants and liability insurance. This bill would require a space flight entity, as defined, to collect a signed warning statement, as specified, from each participant in space flight activities, as defined. In addition to the disclosures required by federal law, the bill would require the warning statement to, at a minimum, inform the participant that the space flight entity is not liable for bodily injury sustained as a result of the inherent risks associated with space flight activities. The bill would limit the liability of a space flight entity that complies with these provisions, except as provided.”

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