City considering self-service fuel farm at municipal airport
Belfast — The city is considering installing a self-service fuel farm at the Belfast Municipal Airport as part of a five-year Capital Improvement Plan to stimulate further development at the facility.
Three projects were identified as the highest priority: conducting a runway extension feasibility study, installing an automated access gate and installing a self-service fuel farm, Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge explained to councilors during a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 19.
However, after compiling rough cost estimates, it was determined that completion of all three projects would exceed available funding. For that reason, the city identified the self-service fuel farm as the project with the most short- and medium-term benefits.
The fuel farm would provide the most commonly used fuels, which are 100 low lead and Jet-A.
Kittredge explained that fuel is only available at the airport when the provider is there, whereas the self-service station would allow someone to use a credit card to fuel up 24/7.
While no formal design options have been created, Kittredge said the city is looking at installing two 6,000-gallon tanks. Currently, Kittredge said in an email the best location for the system would be at the end of the middle row of hangars.
Councilor Nancy Hamilton asked Kittredge if the city had considered finding a third party entity to manage the fuel farm. Kittredge said the city has not communicated with any third parties about operating a fuel farm. He also noted that while he anticipated the fuel farm to generate some revenue, he didn’t expect it to generate a huge amount of revenue.
He explained the city generates most of its revenue from property taxes paid by the people who own hangars. With the addition of a fuel farm, he said there is the possibility more people would opt to purchase hangars at the airport and in turn generate more property tax revenue for the city.
Construction of the fuel farm is estimated to cost about $430,500. The city has $300,000 in Federal Aviation Administration entitlement funds saved, with the Maine Department of Transportation and the city matching those funds with $15,000, respectively.
Each year, the city receives $150,000 in entitlement funds from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is then matched with $7,500 in funding from the Maine Department of Transportation and $7,500 in funding from the city.
That leaves the city with a shortfall of $100,500 to complete the construction of the fuel farm. The city could cover the difference with its own funds, which would be reimbursed by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Maine Department of Transportation at a future date.
In addition to the need for gap funding, the city must address obstruction issues — mostly related to trees — around the airport before the city seeks approval to install the fuel farm. Some of the obstructing trees are located on property where the city has easements, but other possible obstructions are located on properties where the city does not. Kittredge said the city is in the process of documenting all of the obstructions and he did not have any cost estimates to provide at the meeting.
No action was taken by the council in regards to the self-service fuel farm.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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