Mayor asks N.J. to kick in more for airport grant program

TRENTON – At least one mayor is hoping the state will pick up more of the cost in an airport matching grant program.

Mayor Steve DiDonato, whose town of Hammonton has a publicly owned airport, has petitioned the Department of Transportation to kick in more money following a move by the federal government to decrease its share.

Historically, under the Airport Safety Fund Program, the funding broke down this way: 95 percent federal and 2.5 percent each from state and local governments.

But because the federal government has reduced its share to 90 percent, that means either state or local governments, or both, must kick in more.

According to a petition in the N.J. Register, Hammonton suggests that the state share jump to 7.5 percent.

In an interview recently, DiDonato said there are a number of towns with airports lobbying for a split of 5 percent local and state each as another option.

“Our airport is a vital airport,’’ said DiDonato. It handles twin-engine craft and smaller planes, but the airport is used by state police, forest fire services, and sometimes the military for practice runs, he said.

And while some airports can see more than $100,000 a year in rentals for hangar space, the demand on the airport is increasing at a time when municipal budgets are stressed, he explained.

DOT spokesman Joe Dee said that the department is reviewing the petition from Hammonton and is crafting a response. Mayor asks N.J. to kick in more for airport grant program