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December 16, 2017
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Commission concerned for funding of new roof

By Tia Lyons
This article was published October 10, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field is one step closer to getting a new roof; however, how to fund the project is still under discussion.

The El Dorado Airport Commission has approved a project to replace the deteriorating roof, and commissioners agreed Monday to come up with a “plan A, B, and C” to pay for the work.

Mickey Murfee, chairman of the commission, said Monday that El Dorado Roofing Company, LLC, had won the bid for the project.

“They’re waiting on the work order. Once they get it, it’s going to be happening pretty quick,” Murfee said, adding that the materials have already been purchased.

“How are we going to pay for it?” Commissioner Craig Smart asked.

The issue has been ongoing for several months as commissioners have explored options to secure funding to pay for the repairs.

Commissioners had been hoping to start the work prior to late fall and winter.

According to the minutes of the commission’s August meeting, Murphy said El Dorado Roofing was awarded the low bid of $114,200, which came in well below a preliminary budget estimate.

Over the past several months, commissioners have considered possible state and federal grant funds, as well as approaching the city about either tapping into reserve coffers or presenting a funding request for the city’s 1-cent sales tax for economic development.

Murfee said he and architect Blake Dunn, of CADM Architecture, Inc., are on today’s agenda for the El Dorado Works Board regular monthly meeting.

Murfee also noted there was an allotment for airport development in the former El Dorado Forward sales tax, which expired in June 2015.

“We spent $850,000 on the corporate hangar, and I asked if any funds were left over from that,” Murfee said.

The corporate hangar was completed in April 2016.

A grant request for the project was previously denied by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.

However, Blake Roberson, of Garver, LLC, the commission’s engineering agency of record, said the denial ADA will meet next week, and the request will be up for reconsideration.

“It was just for that month (the ADA’s regular meeting in July). It stayed in the queue, you can still get it, but if you start the project before you get the grant money, you will no longer be eligible,” Roberson said.

Mayor Frank Hash said the eligibility issue was the reason the project hasn’t started, and he encouraged airport commissioners to wait until the ADA commission next meets.

Roberson said he would contact commissioners ahead of the meeting to check on the status of the request, noting that such decisions are typically based on how the financials fare from the previous month.

Commissioner Aubra Anthony said he would also speak with ADA representatives, per a suggestion by Hash, who asked commissioners to champion the cause with the state.

Anthony asked if the city had any available funding in its capital improvement budget, and Hash said no.

“There’s nothing sitting in the capital line item, per se. We’ve held off on some capital improvement purchases. We’ve only bought a couple of police cars and a garbage truck this year,” Hash said.

“We have almost twice what’s required in reserves … We’re not going to let this building suffer for a lack of roofing, no matter where the money comes from,” the mayor continued.

Hash said the airport commission should have several options on deck, just in case the ADA grant does not come through.

“I think the (El Dorado Works Board) would like to hear that you’re working on more than point, that you’re exploring other possibilities,” he said.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@eldoradonews.com.

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