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Airport, state's attorney seek more funds

by Chris Olson

Posted on 9/2/2015

The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority and Stutsman County State's Attorney made their cases for more funding for the 2016 fiscal year before the Stutsman County Commission Tuesday.

Commission Chairman Mark Klose said the commission would take the requests under advisement.

The commission will approve the proposed 2016 budget at its Oct. 6 meeting.

JRAA Chairman Jim Boyd said the Airport Authority needed $65,000 in additional funds for the airport's capital improvement budget to cover the airport's local match of a $1.3 million wetlands mitigation project for 2016. Boyd said the Airport Authority had originally planned to pay for the project planning and engineering in 2016 and the physical work for the mitigation in 2017.

"The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) asked us if we could do both phases in 2016," Boyd said.

When completed this wetlands mitigation will have eliminated 28 acres of wetlands in the northeast section of the airport property and created new wetlands somewhere else.

Airport Manager Sam Seafeldt said $1 million of the project will go to the construction phase of the project, building a system to drain the wetlands. The remaining $300,000 will go to create new wetlands.

Seafeldt said the county usually contributes between $45,000 to $46,000 to the airport's annual budget.

Boyd, along with JRAA Vice Chairman Jeff Wilhelm and Mayor Katie Andersen, also presented the County Commission with estimated capital costs for future projects at the airport. Future projects that the Airport Authority may be seeking county funds for include a $20,000 grant match for a new $400,000 snow removal truck in 2017 and $50,000 grant match for a $1 million project in 2019 for rehabilitating the asphalt apron at the airport terminal.

Including the $65,000 request for 2016, the Airport Authority may seek $1.26 million in local match funding from the County Commission for $8.7 million in projects through 2020.

Klose said when the County Commission first approved contributing funds to Jamestown Regional Airport, it did so because farmers wanted the airport available so aerial sprayers had a place to operate out of in Stutsman County.

Klose said he thought the $65,000 request was a one-time thing, but then he read through the Airport Authority's future request.

"I see there are more requests, hundreds of thousands of dollars and I don't know how much I want to support beyond this single request," he said.

Boyd said the Airport Authority was just seeking the $65,000 for 2016 and had included the future projects at the request of Stutsman County Auditor/Chief Operating Officer Casey Bradley. Bradley had asked all departments and organizations that are part of the county's overall budget to submit five-year spending plans as part of the budget approval process for 2016.

Andersen said the Airport Authority wasn't trying to scare the County Commission, but rather the authority wants to be honest.

"We didn't want there to be any surprises when we come back next year," she said.

Stutsman County State's Attorney Fritz Fremgen is seeking to add another full-time attorney to his office. He currently has two full-time attorneys on staff.

Fremgen said he has worked hundreds of hours outside of normal office hours this year to keep the state's attorney's office operating in a "normal" manner.

According to statistics compiled by Bradley, the Stutsman County State's Attorney Office handled 374 felony cases in 2014, up 2 percent from 367 felony cases in 2013. The office handled 749 misdemeanor cases in 2014, down 9 percent from 821 misdemeanors in 2013.

Fremgen said he understood why Bradley presented the case numbers, but he said his work is more than just case numbers.

"The cases are becoming more complex," he said. "They require more time and I won't cut corners."

Klose asked if Fremgen was teaching a class at the University of Jamestown. Fremgen said he is, and the class is held on Monday nights. He said he took the job because he was seeing more new law enforcement officers who were unfamiliar with the rules of evidence and some elements of criminal law.

In his monthly report to the County Commission, Fremgen said he had worked an extra 240 hours so far this year outside of normal office hours.

In other business, the County Commission, meeting as the County Park Board, approved the County Parks Department's 2016 budget. The department's budget calls for $1.23 million in expenditures, most of which is a $560,500 proposed expansion of Pelican Point Campground and possible new shower facilities.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com