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Jackson County Commission approves loan for new airport hangars
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JEFFERSON — The Jackson County airport will be getting new hangars thanks to a loan from the Jackson County Commission.

Some $500,000 will be spent on design and engineering for corporate and private hangar sites.

The airport has been in talks with engineers who estimate the total costs to be closer to $436,000, which was the final amount the commissioners agreed on an unanimously approved at last week’s meeting.

Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell said he felt better about loaning the money knowing that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation will reimburse the county for 97.5 percent of the engineering and design costs.

"These are reimbursable expenses so I’m a little more comfortable with that," he said.

The Jackson County airport isn’t the only regional airport to receive upgrades.

Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville was upgraded last year to have an instrument landing system. With the instrument landing system, the ceiling is reduced to 200 feet, and visibility is one-fourth to one-half mile. Previously, airplanes only could land at the airport if the cloud ceiling is above 382 feet and visibility is 1.5 miles.

Revenues, expenditures lower in first quarter

Jackson County revenues were lower than anticipated but the county was also spending less in 2009, according to the first quarter financial status report from County Finance Director John Hulsey.

Hulsey said revenues in the first few months of 2009 were below budget estimates by $482,288, which can be attributed to lower sales tax collections, charges for services and interest income from short-term investments.

But some of the county’s investments are helping to bring in some revenues in a struggling economy.

Jackson County has $2.29 million invested in a certificate of deposit at Northeast Georgia Bank and another $2.24 million invested at Community Bank and Trust.

These investments "are expected to return an annual percentage rate of 3.31 percent and 2.62 percent, respectively." Hulsey said.

The county also has made efforts to control spending in 2009, including asking the departments to reduce their operating budgets by 5 percent at the end of 2008 and an additional 10 percent in 2009, Bicknell said.

Thanks to these reductions, the county specifically spent less in personnel and operating budget costs, financial report documents indicate. Personnel expenditures were about $420,000 below budget. Operating expenditures were about $440,000 below budget.

"This is a real good sign for us at this point, but of course we have three more quarters to go," Bicknell said.

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