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Bonding Authorized for Airport Improvements

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Bonding Authorized for Airport Improvements

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Following a public hearing, the Legislature authorized bonding, as needed, to support the capital improvement project at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.  Legislators, without dissent, approved the County’s issuance of up to $7.5 million in Airport Bond Anticipation Notes, funded through Airport passenger facility charges.  The more than $24 million project, recipient of a $14.4 million New York State upstate Airport Revitalization Grant, will expand the terminal facility and support such associated improvements as installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system and solar panels on Airport property, as well as construction of a federal customs facility. 

At the public hearing, six residents spoke, raising their concerns about the project and especially the customs facility, expressing fear that it might actually be a local customs and border protection facility.  County Administrator Jason Molino, however, relaying information from Airport Director Mike Hall, stressed that there is no relationship between Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the new facility, and that the new Inspection Station, located on the secure side of the Airport, will simply allow international guests and visitors to arrive directly in Tompkins County, and offers the prospect of pre-cleared commercial air service, where the agent would be checking the manifest, not inspecting the passengers and cargo.  As a “user fee” operation, the Airport has to pay for the agent, but can recoup expenses by charging a fee for service, and the agent, while working for Customs Border Patrol (CBP), will be responsive to the airport, and the airport will be able to track CBP activity.