County agrees to send $25M more to airport renovation project

September 13, 2017 06:32 PM

ROCHESTER- The $55 million renovation project at the Rochester Airport has now grown to an $80 million project.  On Tuesday, Monroe County Executive, Cheryl Dinaflo made a last minute request to the county legislature for an additional $25 million for the project.  

The request was made a week after bids were due from contractors interested in building an exterior canopy on the airport that would include facial recognition technology and other security features.  Those bids, according to Monroe County, were much higher than anticipated and in order to maintain the original focus of the canopy, additional resources are needed.

On two separate occasions, Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Rochester to talk about how the area won tax dollars to invest in the airport. "I'm here to say, congratulations! You have won the full amount, approximately $40 million, congratulations," he said when making the announcement earlier this year.

But that $40 million was just a start. The airport authority originally planned to add $14 million to the project but on Tuesday, as a "matter of urgency," the county legislature agreed to up that amount by another $25 million. They made the decision with little notice or discussion because, according to the county, they wanted to keep the project on schedule.

The additional $25 million is not coming directly from taxpayers. The Airport Authority will be rebalancing its own budget and using monies it has allocated for other expenses and projects at the airport. That money typically comes from ticket fees, airline rent and parking revenue. When asked whether those fees would increase for passengers, a county spokesman said there are currently no plans to up them but it's unclear what might happen in the future.

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The total project will now cost roughly $80 million. Many travelers who spoke with News10NBC, wondered whether any of the work would actually help to lower ticket fares or add more flights. The airport director was not available for an interview on Wednesday but a few months ago, Mike Giardino told News10NBC that he hoped an impressive upgraded facility would encourage new airlines to consider Rochester or existing airlines to add routes which may help to lower prices. But of course, there's no guarantees.

In a statement, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinalfo's spokesman Jesse Sleezer, says, "This is a first-of-its-kind collaborative effort between the County and our state and federal governments to deliver a modern airport for Rochester that will attract jobs and protect public safety. Due to the unique nature of the partnership, the process has been fluid and involved several modifications, including the addition of state-of-the-art security features to the proposed airport canopy. We believe the increased authorization, passed unanimously by the Legislature, remains consistent with the spirit of the project as initially proposed. There will continue to be zero local taxpayer dollars invested in the project. Monroe County looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Governor and all project stakeholders to build a modern, safe airport that helps us compete for jobs in today’s global economy."


Jennifer Lewke

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