Solutions sought as Pangborn Airport funding issues reach critical point

2025
San Francisco

A looming financial crisis has prompted calls for changes in the way Pangborn Memorial Airport is managed and operated.

The airport’s governing board met Tuesday to discuss the current joint operating agreement between the Port of Chelan County and Port of Douglas County.

The current agreement has Chelan County paying 70 percent of the airport’s costs. Commissioners with the Port of Douglas County maintain they can’t afford to continue to contribute their 30 percent share and are considering terminating the agreement.

The two boards discussed some possible future financing solutions including Chelan County’s suggestion that Douglas County consider lifting its levy lid. Douglas County Port Commissioner Jim Huffman was not thrilled with the idea, saying he did not want to rely on that as a long-term solution.

“This really, really stretches our resources thin, no matter how you cut it. I think trying to rely on a levy lid lift just puts us back at ground zero cause I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Huffman said.

But Chelan County Port Manager, Patrick Jones says the current agreement is broken and he contends the tax option isn’t that onerous when you consider the stakes.

Pangborn’s 10-year capital budget, includes about $10 million of additional needed airport projects between 2019 and 2028 that are not eligible for federal funding and must be financed using local funds. That would require a $6.8 million contribution from Port of Chelan County and 2.9 million dollars from the Port of Douglas County. Jones presented a list of possible financing options for Douglas County to consider. Click the link below to view the proposed options . . .

POCC to PMAGB – Funding Solutions for PODC10218

Governing Board Chairman, Rory Turner says timing is critical because the airport currently has momentum after a runway expansion project and an effort to begin flights to San Francisco.

“That’s why I’m concerned with punting this to a two-year study.”

Tuesday’s board meeting ended with the two entities apparently agreeing to create a task force comprised of local community and elected leaders to make recommendations on how to proceed.