As the city of Yakima continues negotiations with Yakima County to take sole ownership of the Yakima Air Terminal, among the matters that need to be settled is how to best repay a $250,000 loan due in June.
Yakima County Commissioners approved the loan, which is from the county’s Supporting Investments in Economic Diversification fund, in January 2011 to jump-start an update of the airport’s master plan. It was to be repaid by June 2012, but the county extended that deadline to this June because the master plan process was incomplete.
The repayment issue won’t have direct impact on the city’s plan to take sole ownership of the airport, said City Manager Tony O’Rourke.
But with the deadline just a few months away, it’s necessary to have a repayment plan that won’t hurt the airport’s cash flow, he said.
The airport had hoped to repay the loan with a Federal Aviation Administration grant, but the airport’s financial challenges may affect the availability of cash to repay the loan when due, said county Commissioner Rand Elliott.
And with the master plan expected to be completed this spring, extending the term of the loan another year isn’t an option, said Craig Warner, the Yakima County budget director who is overseeing the airport’s books.
Airport critics question if cash flow issues led the airport to use the SIED money for airport operations rather than the master plan. Former airport manager Lee Remmel, who was fired by the airport board last fall, recently sent a record request to the city asking how the SIED money was spent.
Warner said he was aware of Remmel’s request, but said the airport was not obligated to keep the loan money in a separate fund. What matters, he said, is will there be funds available for repayment in June.