Cuts affect SARA

Published 8:18 am Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sequestration has airport juggling cash

While South Alabama Regional Airport has seen little decrease in the amount of jet fuel sold to the military in the wake of sequestration, the facility has been affected.

Co-manager Jed Blackwell said the region’s stormy weather appears to have affected the weekly number of refueling flights more than sequestration.

Blackwell said local airport authorities are in close communication with military officials and with Rep. Martha Roby.

“Right now, it appears they are still trying to fly as much as possible,” he said.

Still, changes are affecting SARA.

The primary effect has been the government’s move from a 10-day pay cycle to a 30-day cycle, he said. In 2012, the airport sold 968,000 gallons of fuel, or an average of 80,000 gallons per month, primarily to the military. The administrative change has affected SARA’s cash flow, as its suppliers have to be paid in 15 to 20 days.

Other changes made by the feds also will affect SARA’s funding. In the past, Federal Aviation Administration grants were funded at 95 percent, and required 2.5 percent matches from the state Department of Transportation and 2.5 percent from the local facility, Blackwell said. Now, the grants provide only 90 percent of the funding, doubling the commitments needed from state and local sources.