Warren to vote on airport

WARREN – City Council is expected to take a softer position in its previously announced intent to earmark $30,000 to help land daily air service at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

YNG Air Partners, a nonprofit that works with the airport, is trying to raise $400,000 to help guarantee profitability for startup commercial daily air service. United Airlines has been in talks with airport officials about such service.

In a resolution expected to be voted on today, council is pledging to provide up to $30,000 to the project. The resolution is non-binding, and the council will later need to approve appropriations for a specific amount.

Last week, the Cafaro Foundation pledged to provide $100,000. Youngstown city council has announced it will wait to see what other communities pledge before agreeing to financial support.

Warren Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at large, has said funds could be allocated from the city’s downtown development fund, which had $188,000 last month, said city Auditor David Griffing. However, $80,000 already has been set aside for the city’s portion of the “pass-through” project being done through a building owned by Paul Clouser.

The fund is financed with rent revenue from tenants operating in the city’s Van’s Building and the former Gibson Building. No funds come from the city’s general fund.

Administration officials warned Rucker the money could not be taken from the downtown development fund because wording in legislation that governs the fund dictates it may be used only for downtown area projects and building maintenance.

Rucker now is proposing that wording be amended.

“We will have to amend that legislation,” Rucker said. “I think the downtown development fund should be used for economic development and this is an economic development project. YNG Air Partners said they do not need the money immediately, so we have time.”

Several council members are questioning whether the money will be returned if the YNG Air Partners raises more than it has been requesting or if the airline is so successful that it does not need the requested income to guarantee a profit.

If Warren’s legislation passes, Rucker said copies will be sent to other local subdivisions considering similar allocations.