NCDOT: Plenty of $$$$ for Moore County Airport, but not for I-95



It’s recently hit the news that the “wise” persons in our state government are going to set up tolls on I-95  to pay for much-needed renovations.  So, in addition to paying the highest gas tax south of The Mason-Dixon Line, drivers will be hit with even more cost for the privilege of driving through The Tar Heel State.

I noticed an interesting passage buried deep in a story in our local paper about funding for the expansion of The Moore County Airport:

The Moore County commissioners appear poised to approve budget ordinances that will allow upgrades at the county airport.

But at least one local group is voicing concerns about the spending at the Moore County Airport and is questioning the airport authority’s long-term plans.

Airport Director Ron Maness said he hopes work can start by summer on a 400-foot addition to the runway and a relocation of a localizer antenna, which pilots use for landings. Crews also will cut trees on 12 acres recently purchased by the airport authority.

The county has accepted $3.1 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and the N.C. Department of Transportation for the work. A $344,445 county match is required, money which Maness said will come from an occupancy tax on area hotel rooms.

“The key is that, for the most part, the occupancy tax comes from visitors who come from outside Moore County,” Maness said. “We’re not taking it out of the pockets of the local taxpayers.”

I bet the DOT and FAA money came out of my pocket AND yours.  Let’s continue:

The Moore County Airport is located on 500 acres at N.C. 22 and Airport Road, three miles north of Southern Pines. Twenty-three people work at the airport and about 6,000 small planes take off and land there every year.

Commercial planes haven’t landed at the airport since Delta Airlines discontinued service in 2007. An airport task force has been formed to explore re-establishing commercial service.

Maness said the improvements are being made to meet safety standards set by the FAA. Still, he said, attracting a commercial airline is a goal of the airport authority.


But not everyone is happy about the airport’s plans and the money needed for the project.

Whispering Pines resident Fred Korb and his son, Dave, have incorporated Taxpayers to Stop Airport Waste LLC to voice their concerns about possible airport expansion and the use of tax money by the airport authority.

The Korbs have been a presence at meetings of the airport authority and the county commissioners in recent months. The airport authority meeting on Tuesday ended with a heated exchange between Dave Korb and board member Bill Bateman.

“We don’t want it to be a large commercial airport and we don’t want them taking any more liberties with the tax money of the county, state and federal government,” Dave Korb said in a phone interview last week. “Our goals are rather simple and they’re shared by hundreds of people who have signed our petition and responded to our blog.”

Dave Korb said a key concern he has is that a portion of one of the most recent state grants was funded with money from a state highway fund. Money in the highway fund is collected mostly by gasoline taxes.

Richard Walls, director of the state DOT’s Division of Aviation, said money from the highway fund can be used to upgrade any transportation infrastructure, not only highways. […]

Really?  So, we have PLENTY of money at DOT to pay for this airport — which is nothing more than a taxpayer subsidized playground for rich people with expensive toys — but NOT for maintenance of Interstate 95, which is arguably a lot more important to the economy?