TF Council Clears $2.9M Airport Upgrades for Takeoff

July 15--TWIN FALLS -- Twin Falls' City Council gave the green light Monday evening to move forward with a $2.9 million update to the Magic Valley Regional Airport.

The project entails expanding the size of the airport terminal, providing more room in the passenger holding area after passing through security and for baggage screening and sorting. They would also add office, ticketing and terminal space, enough so three airlines could operate out of there, said Airport Manager Bill Carberry, who presented a feasibility study on the upgrades to the Council on Monday.

The current terminal was built in the late-1990s; the amount of room the Transportation Security Administration requires for its security functions increased greatly in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Carberry said.

The federal government would cover 94 percent of the project cost, mainly through the Federal Aviation Administration. The city and Twin Falls County, which run the airport together, would pick up 6 percent.

Carberry will present the study to county commissioners Wednesday morning. If the county signs off, project architectural firm CSHQA will move forward with final project design and bidding.

The Council also authorized Twin Falls Police Chief Brian Pike to replace the force's current .45 caliber Smith and Wesson pistols with 9 mm and .45 caliber Glocks. The department switched to Smith and Wesson from Glocks five years ago. Pike said some officers have been having trouble with the trigger reset on the pistols, which he said is more difficult to learn than the Glocks and has led to officers having more trouble with their annual qualifications.

"We've spent the last five years really just working on the fundamentals," he said.

This will cost a little more than $19,000, of which about $11,600 is coming from the proceeds of the department's 2014 gun auction and the rest is covered by the department's restitution fund.

And, the Council talked some more about the upcoming 2015 budget with much of the focus being on personnel spending. City Manager Travis Rothweiler is proposing hiring a new information services tech, a new engineer and a new parks employee. He said the workload in all three of those departments has gone up significantly since the last time new employees were added, making the new positions necessary.

Personnel spending would go up about $1.4 million in the proposed budget, with about $220,000 of this due to health-insurance costs. Also, employees who meet job-performance standards would get 3 percent raises. Rothweiler said this would help avoid excessive employee turnover.

Next week, Rothweiler said, the Council will discuss water, sewer and sanitation funds.

The draft budget is available on the city's website at www.tfid.org.

Copyright 2014 - The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho

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