U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today announced that his long-fought effort to keep Rogers Air Traffic Control Tower operating at an affordable rate was successful. Pryor received unanimous and bipartisan support last night on a measure he offered to prevent the local community's cost-share from dramatically increasing.
"The Rogers tower protects our skies and provides critical jobs and economic develop opportunities in Rogers and the surrounding communities. This amendment restores fairness and balance to the cost-sharing burden and helps ensure the sustained operation of the tower," Pryor said.
Pryor said the Rogers Air Traffic Control Tower can continue to serve northwest Arkansas and provide safe, efficient, and controlled airspace for local and business aircraft. As a result of a biennial review, the FAA currently plans to increase Rogers local cost-sharing requirement from 31 percent to 45 percent because of decreased use during the economic downturn. This additional local burden would cost the City of Rogers $190,000 annually to keep the tower open and jeopardize its existence. Pryor's amendment caps the local cost-sharing requirement for contract towers to 20 percent, which is the same percentage provided for other cost-share control towers primarily serving commercial aircraft under the FAA bill. The federal government covers the remaining 80 percent. The City of Springdale, which will also benefit from the Pryor provision, currently pays 26% of the costs to operate its tower.
Pryor said the Rogers provision is part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which includes essential measures such as a Passenger Bill of Rights, safety improvements for regional airports, critical airport infrastructure improvements, and important investments in our air traffic control system. The legislation passed by a vote of 87-8 and now goes to the House of Representatives.