By Casey Smith, Business Writer Tulsa World
The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission spent a record $10 million during fiscal year 2015 to help communities across the state improve the facilities and infrastructure at their regional airports, the commission announced earlier this week.
“This amount of capital expenditures is unprecedented for us,” said Vic Bird, the state director of aeronautics. “Never before has the commission invested so much in one year to help our public airports meet the needs of commerce and communities across the state.”
Typically the commission spends $3 million to $4 million a year on airport improvements, Bird said.
Approximately $1.55 million of the $10 million spent during the fiscal year that ended June 30 went to projects for airports in the northeast portion of the state, spokesman Harve Allen said.
Area project spending includes $170,000 that went toward signage upgrades, a new beacon and other navigational aid improvements at R.L. Jones Airport.
It also includes $243,000 that went toward installing a new lighting system at Claremore Regional Airport and $490,000 that went toward the construction of a new airport terminal building and pavement work at Grove Municipal Airport.
The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission is a nonappropriated agency that does not receive any money from the state Legislature.
The commission is funded directly by aircraft owners and pilots who use the Oklahoma Airport System, through aircraft excise taxes, aircraft registration fees and an aviation fuel tax, Allen said.
The taxes and fees generate approximately $4.4 million annually, he said.
The majority of funding, around 92 percent, comes from excise taxes when someone purchases an aircraft in Oklahoma.