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County Executive plans to keep Griffiss Air Traffic Control Tower Open

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente is proposing the county take over funding for Griffiss International Airport's Air Traffic Control Tower. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is scheduled to cut funding in June.

Oneida County is looking at the current company the FAA contracts out to to operate the tower as well as new proposals. He says they'll choose whichever contract is best for the county to make it as smooth a transition as possible.

"Our intent is to have it seamless to continue the operation whenever the FAA comes to final decision on what day, it is seems like 15th of June," says Picente. And by that time we'll have a contract in place either with the existing contractor or another contractor."

Picente says the tower currently costs $450,000 dollars a year to operate it, they're now looking to reduce that budget to around $300,000 a year by changing the hours to go with traffic flow. He says his main goal is to have the tower not closed for even a day.

"It's essential for the safety of the airport, essential for the companies we work with up there that exist that need operation of the tower," said Picente. "It's essential for customers and essential for the long term planning that we have."

Picente says for the short term they'll be sticking with the current company while they continue looking at other options for the county. The Oneida County Board of Legislators will have to sign off on both funding the tower and any new contracts with companies operating.

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