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Airport will have to dip into reserves

Laura Sturza

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport has approved a $48-million

budget for the coming fiscal year, but will need to once again dip

into its reserves to complete several pending projects.


The Airport Authority voted Monday to take $2 million from its

reserve fund to pay for three projects that risked indefinite

postponement, including the construction of a $1.4-million parking

lot. The airport will also spend $400,000 to replace the 16-year-old


chairs in the airport’s waiting areas.

“I don’t think putting off these projects for another year is the

prudent action to take,” Authority Vice President Charlie Lombardo

said following the 6-1 vote. “That’s what we have reserves for.”

The budget approved by commissioners is less than half of the

2002-2003 spending plan, which totaled $99 million. A $34-million

price tag for security enhancements prompted by the Sept. 11

terrorist attacks was the primary reason for the inflated budget,


Authority spokesman Victor Gill said.

The reserve fund, which sat at $71 million at the end of fiscal

year 2001-02, is expected to be $38 million by July 1, the start of

the next fiscal year.

That projection, however, could increase by $16 million because

the airport expects to sell Los Angeles land it owns to Voit

Development Company by June 30, Gill said.

Earlier estimates projected the airport would need to spend $4.5


million from the reserves fund, but that figure was reduced because

of increases in passenger facility fees, which went from $3 to $4.50

last month.

Meanwhile, airport officials said the Federal Aviation

Administration told them late last week that $10 million in pending

grants for noise reduction and other projects could be at risk until

the agency considers the airport’s plan to pay back up to $46 million

in past grants for a terminal it is not building.

The airport submitted a plan to the FAA May 13, proposing to apply

funds received since 1994 for security projects including housing the

Burbank and Glendale National Guard armories.

“It is highly likely that we are going to have to repay the FAA

some amount of money,” Glendale Airport Authority commissioner Gerald

Briggs said, in his opposition to spending from the reserves. “Every

dollar that we dip into our reserves is a dollar that we don’t have

for the FAA.”