Hurricane City Council approves budget amendments for airport renovations, new police officers

Stock image | Photo by Michaklootwtwijk/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Hurricane City Council approved amendments to the 2018-19 fiscal year budget on Thursday after receiving around $2.5 million in grants for work on the airport. 

The city completed renovations on the Hurricane Municipal Airport in May, which included rebuilding the airport runway to meet 2020 Federal Aviation Administration standards, Hurricane Mayor John Bramall said. 

“We didn’t expand it, it still allows the same aircraft that have been coming in and out of it for years, but it’s moved up to 2020 standards instead of 1983 standards,” Bramall said. 

Reconstruction of the runway was needed for a long time, Hurricane airport manager Art Granger said. 

“The runway was quite broken up and sinking in places so it was becoming unsafe,” he said. 

The project involved excavating the entire runway. Prior to repaving, they dug down six feet, added new fill material, recompacted, added a layer of gravel and rock material, and added a plastic layer to prevent water from soaking through the pavement and damaging the base. 

The new asphalt runway was widened to 60 feet as opposed to the 40 feet that it was. 

“The extra width really helps because 40 feet was the narrowest runway in the state airport systems, and now it’s 60 feet which is standard width for a small airport,” Granger said. 

Additionally, they raised the north end of the runway by about six feet so that it slightly slopes, allowing planes to clear a nearby road by an additional 10 feet when taking off.

The also excavated the runway’s drainage system and rerouted it so that it drains along the side of the runway instead of across it. 

The Hurricane Municipal Airport, Hurricane, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the city of Hurricane, St. George News

Not only was the runway improved, but a taxiway was built as well. 

“Before you had to taxi down the runway, but now you can actually taxi to either end of the runway on a bonafide taxiway,” Granger said. “That made it a lot safer than having people taxi down while someone might be taking off or landing.” 

The renovations are being mostly paid for by grants from the FAA and the Utah Department of Transportation, and the city is paying for the rest out of their general funds. 

The exact cost of the project is still being finalized, but the original bid was for $2.85 million, Hurricane Director of Public Works Mike Vercimack said. 

The FAA grant will cover 90% of the total cost, a UDOT grant will cover 5% of it and the city of Hurricane will be responsible for the remaining 5%. 

The Hurricane airport is part of the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, which gives the city a $150,000 per year entitlement for airport improvements. In order to pay for the project originally, the city banked several years of that entitlement. 

The council knew it would be receiving the grants prior to starting the project, but needed to amend the budget now that the funds will actually be received, Bramall said. 

“We knew about all of this, it was all coming down the pipe and we just stamped our approval on it and accepted the money.” 

The council’s budget approval also included funding to hire three new officers for the Hurricane Police Department, two of which will start in July. 

Their budgeting goals between now and January include additional funding to hire another K9 officer. 

The budget amendment also included allotting $300,000 toward improving the town’s recreation, arts, theater and parks.

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