Franklin airport to stop selling fuel

Published 5:31 pm Friday, April 12, 2019


The city of Franklin plans to cease selling fuel at its airport, effective July 1.

According to City Manager Amanda Jarratt, this decision is the result of a personnel cut she has recommended for the city’s fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, which will reduce the airport’s full-time staff from two employees to one. The airport’s operating hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days per week, will also be reduced to just Monday through Friday.

The airport, Jarratt had previously remarked to The Tidewater News, operates at a deficit and has done so since the city acquired the facility years ago — owing to the fact that its fuel sales and hangar rental fees do not offset its operational expenses. As such, it is subsidized by the city’s general fund.

Airport Manager Jimmy Gray told the newspaper in February that fuel sales at the airport totaled $51,494 in fiscal year 2016; $60,373 in fiscal year 2017; and $86,353 in fiscal year 2018. Gray also told the newspaper at that time the airport was on track to meet its budget projection of $67,500 in fuel sales by the end of fiscal year 2019 on June 30.

Gray declined to comment on the proposed personnel cut and stopping of fuel sales, stating that he did not feel it was appropriate for him to speak on an ongoing budget process. Jarratt confirmed that Gray’s position is not the one that will be eliminated.

In addition to the proposed layoff and cessation of fuel sales, the city also plans not to fund a request of $30,000 from Franklin’s Airport Advisory Board for a new courtesy vehicle, which can be loaned to visitors who need transport to and from motels, restaurants, meetings and other business needs. The current courtesy vehicle, a 1998 four-door Ford Crown Victoria formerly used as a Franklin Police car, still functions but is in a well-worn state.

When asked if no longer selling fuel would cause the airport to operate at an even greater deficit, Jarratt said that the marginal revenue from the airport’s fuel sales was captured in the net savings calculation, and as such, the subsidy from the city’s general fund to the airport will actually be reduced as a result of the change in personnel and services.

According to the city’s advertisement of a public hearing on its proposed budget, which is published on page A5 of today’s edition of The Tidewater News, the total proposed 2019-2020 budget for the city’s airport fund stands at $249,234. This is a decrease of $214,856 or roughly 46.3 percent from the city’s adopted 2018-2019 airport fund budget of $464,090, and a decrease of 69.9 percent or $578,856 from the amended 2018-2019 airport fund budget of $828,090.