By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
The Hays City Commission met Thursday and voted to move forward with renovations expected to keep Hays Regional Airport viable.
With Commissioner Eber Phelps absent, commissioners unanimously approved a measure to partner with the Federal Aviation Administration for a project costing approximately $1.4 million. The city's share for construction and engineering would be $466,402 after the federal agency compensates it for a majority of the venture.
I.D. Creech, Hays director of public works, said the upgrades to the terminal would keep it current for the "foreseeable future." The facility, built in 1991, is not compliant with code requirements and needs expansion to accommodate the 50-passenger jets scheduled to begin service at the airport in August.
Constructing another bathroom, making restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, expanding the secure holding area, repairing the roof and fixing the HVAC system are among the proposed upgrades.
"The opportunity exists; money was budgeted. This is something that's been thought about. ... It's been around for awhile," Creech said. "It's in the budget; it came in at the number we said it could come in, and I believe that it's a good investment for the city of Hays."
City staff and FAA officials have discussed the arrangement, but official collaboration is pending federal approval.
In other business:
* Commissioners voted to suspend the sale and use of fireworks in 2014.
Commissioner Shaun Musil said the ban was a "no-brainer" with the drought conditions.
Daniel Thyfault, representing Taz's Fireworks, addressed commissioners and said he understood the decision. The Hill City-based company has stands throughout the region.
* Paul Briseno, assistant city manager, shared the city's progress with its water conservation rebate program. Nine urinals, 267 shower heads, 69 high-efficiency toilets and 54 high-efficiency washers were involved in the initiative.
* The total balance of funds available through money not allocated in the City Commission Financial Policy Projects account and excess funds from capital projects was shared. Available cash was listed as $1.9 million.
* A 10-minute executive session took place to discuss labor negotiations. No action was taken.