OAC's Williams Explains Planning/Programming Process to City Officials
The Oklahoma Municipal League’s annual conference provides a great opportunity for public officials representing Oklahoma’s cities and towns to gather for a three-day period to discuss issues impacting their cities or towns and learn ways they can make improvements.
This year’s OML conference was held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Sept. 25-27, and the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission played a significant role. Not only did the agency lease booth space during the exposition portion of the conference but it also provided a speaker during one of the breakout sessions.
Dale Williams, OAC’s airport development manager, explained the importance of airports to the state and described the role the Commission plays in developing the state’s airport system, which he said is currently comprised of 110 public owned airports. Because Oklahoma channels federal funds for the Federal Aviation Administration to local airports for various infrastructure projects, the Commission uses its own planning and programming processes to develop the Commission’s Three-year Capital Improvement Program or CIP, he said.
The CIP is the programming guide for federal and state funds for airport development consistent with the Oklahoma Airport System Plan, the long-term planning document the Commission uses to identify the network of airports needed to serve the state. The OASP identifies airports by functional classification, service level and design standard.
Williams explained that the state has previously received about $4.4 million annually in federal State Apportionment and $5 million in federal Discretionary funds for airport projects across the state but received a $3 million cut for this fiscal year. State Apportionment and Discretionary funds are used for what he referred to as “Big Rock Projects” that make a significant improvement to the state airport system such as major runway or taxiway construction or rehabilitation.
He noted that many communities have still been able to take advantage of the FAA’s Non-Primary Entitlement program for those smaller, less costly airport improvement projects. The NPE program provides $150,000 a year to airports recognized by the FAA. In Oklahoma, there are 100 of such airports. Those airports have the option of “banking” their yearly $150,000 grants for up to four years, thereby providing enough funds to tackle some of the larger, more-expensive projects.
Following Williams’ presentation on the CIP, he briefly touched on the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act (APPPA) that became effective in 2010. Williams said the new law protects aircraft and their passengers from tall structures that could potentially endanger them during takeoff or on approach. He added that APPPA also regulates land use in close proximity to an airport in order to protect persons on the ground.
"The FAA controls air space but leaves it up to local governments and the State to control land-use issues,” Williams said.