The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 27, 2014

Commissioners OK airport loan

EBENSBURG — In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Cambria County commissioners approved an ordinance opening the door to guarantee a short-term loan needed by the Johns­town-Cambria County Airport Authority.

The loan is necessary to pay for completion of a $1.3 million project in which underground fuel tanks are being replaced by two above-ground tanks, Commissioner Mark Wissinger said.

The commitment guarantees the county will repay the loan should the authority not be able to do so. That concern does not exist, county officials said.

“The authority is actually going out and bridging the funds that will come in,” President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder said.

The loan is coming from a local bank, but repayment will be from a variety of funding sources including money from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank, county Solicitor Thomas Leiden said.

PIB is a division of PennDOT that helps to fund transit projects such as the tank farm. The funding is on a reimbursement basis, meaning the work must be done and contractors paid be­fore the state forwards money.

The 10,000-gallon tanks at the fuel farm will include one for jet fuel, required for military aircraft, and a second for aviation fuel, county officials said.

The ordinance was necessary  before the commitment can be submitted to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Leiden said.

Airport authority Chairman Richard Weaver said the project should be completed by late April and will alleviate concern that the more than 40-year-old underground tanks could leak and cause environmental problems.

The loan should be repaid by the authority by year’s end and will not have an adverse impact on the county’s overall borrowing power, Leiden said.

The county has made similar guarantees for a number of authorities, including the Cambria Somerset Authority, he said.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at­thymellotttd.

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