The sluggishness with which the Federal Aviation Administration has worked through its backlog of applicants for the contract tower program — or rather not worked through the backlog — is costing Grayson County taxpayers in real dollars and in opportunity.
For years, Grayson County officials have been working to get North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field into the program. Their efforts were stalled in 2012, after the federal sequestration kicked in.
Under the program, the FAA will pay approximately $550,000 a year for manned operation of NTRA’s control tower. Currently, the county is subsidizing the tower with around $275,000 a year.
Not only would the FAA’s funding eliminate that expense in the county’s budget, the extra money could be used to extend the hours of the control tower making NTRA an even more attractive location for aviation-related businesses. And that is where this bureaucratic foot-dragging is costing local residents in opportunity.
NTRA is a great economic asset for Texoma. It is already an important piece of the local economy and still has a lot of untapped potential.
Grayson County leaders and Rep. John Ratcliffe’s office have put forth strong efforts to get Grayson County off the applicants list and onto the recipients list for the federal funds, but so far those efforts have not been successful. The latest disappointment is an FAA bill that had an amendment to address the issue. The final bill, however, lacked that language, dealing a blow to Grayson County taxpayers.
Ratcliffe and Grayson County leaders have promised this won’t be the last word on the issue, but it’s still important to remind them, and any other officials who might be able to influence this issue, that it’s important to you.
Getting NTRA into the contract tower program is a key next step for Grayson County’s economic future. Let’s make it a reality sooner rather than later.