By Lindsay McCoy
VIENNA, Ohio – Just four days until sequestration; the $83 billion in federal spending cuts could mean lost services and jobs.
Closing down the air traffic control tower at the Youngstown Regional Airport is just one of the items on a long list of budget cuts if Congress can’t cut a deal to stop them.
Also at stake, the tower’s evening shift which employs up to three full-timers.
“We’ve been expecting some announcement on that for quite some time. It’s not used as much as it was, can’t justify the numbers, so I would expect that we could lose that back shift and it wouldn’t harm us,” said Dan Dickten, Director of Aviation for the Western Reserve Port Authority.
Dickten says it’s not required that the airport have an air traffic control tower, but the airport says it’s a nice added layer of protection for passengers, airlines and the community. They say taking it away would hinder their efforts in attracting new airlines for business.
“We think we’re getting very close with getting daily service in here to a connecting hub airport, such that people can fly to that airport and then connect anywhere in the world for that matter, but this doesn’t help our cause,” Dickten said.
Dickten sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration to persuade them that the tower be removed from its closure list.
“We are requesting the Department of Transportation not lessen the safety needed for its airline passengers, tenants, the surrounding communities and the Air Force Reserve Air Lift Unit by closing the air traffic control tower at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport,” Dickten wrote.
Public health would also take a hit.
Warren City Health District Deputy Director Bob Pinti says they likely would not receive the $15,000 grant for HIV prevention they were recently awarded.
Combine that with state cuts, it’s estimated about 5,000 fewer children would receive vaccines for infectious diseases in Ohio.
“We won’t have the money locally to put vaccine out to these children. That’s going to start at the state, it’s going to come down to the local districts, so everyone is going to be affected,” Pinti said.