For the first time, the Big Bear Airport District annual budget will include a provision for terminal building debt service. The board of directors reviewed the fiscal year 20-21 budget on May 13 and saw an increase of projected expenditures for the upcoming year of about $775,000.

Of that, $500,000 has been earmarked for the new terminal building project. The design documents are under review by the county of San Bernardino. Interim General Manager Ryan Goss said he expects a report from the county regarding the terminal building design within the next 30 days.

The remaining $275,000 is budgeted for capital improvement projects including a snow removal equipment building, as well as removal of the block building and light standards in the eastern runway protection zone better known as Bear City Park.

Goss said the airport’s primary source of revenue is property taxes, which are not expected to change much in the next year. The district estimates about $1.7 million in property taxes for fiscal year 20-21. Revenue from hangar rentals for the upcoming year is projected to reach $435,000 while fuel sales are expected to remain at about $600,000 for the year. Total revenue estimates for fiscal year 20-21 is $3.16 million.

The terminal building loan expense was set at a maximum of $500,000 by the board earlier in the year and is included in the proposed budget. Salary expenses are projected to decrease by about $50,000 next year while insurance and liability premium expenses are increasing substantially from $70,664 to $94,000. The decrease in salary expenses is a net savings that resulted with the resignation of Jack Roberts as general manager.

Goss, who has been with the airport district for 18 years, is the operations and maintenance manager. He has been the district’s interim general manager for nine months. Goss said the board is in discussions with legal counsel regarding the district’s options regarding staffing including a general manager.

The district’s policy does not have a time limitation for an interim general manager, Goss said. “At some point they are going to start taking a look at it, probably in the next month or so,” Goss said about the general manager vacancy.

The increase in liability insurance is because of increases in premiums. The district needs to retain the same level of liability insurance as in the past, which means a $24,000 increase in that expenditure. Total estimated expenses for the airport district in fiscal year 20-21 is $3 million.

The board gave an unofficial stamp of approval on the budget, but it won’t be officially approved until the June 10 board meeting. Goss said the district will not only be able to manage the debt from project expenditures, but will be able to contribute to reserves.

Goss said estimates are conservative for the fiscal year 2020-21. “The plan is to be more conservative through this year to be on the cautious side,” he said. In about six months, the district will be in a better position to know how COVID-19 affects property taxes and other revenue that could affect future budgets, Goss said.

Hangar leases have remained steady, Goss said. “We haven’t had anybody on the hangar side not able to pay,” he said. The district will continue to monitor how the economy affects hangar leases and fuel sales, Goss said.

As for waiting until the next meeting to finalize the budget, Goss said it will be done in plenty of time. “This allows us to review it one more time to make sure everything is perfect,” Goss said. “Then we can present it to (the board) in June.”

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