Base commission says Galena changes could save $90 million

Halting snowplow contracts would save $11 million per year

Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2005

FAIRBANKS - A decision by the military base review commission could result in cancellation of the Air Force contracts for snowplowing at the Galena runway and maintenance of other military facilities at the state-run airport.

Commission staff members said Tuesday stopping the contracts could save the military $11 million a year, and another $30 million in improvements through 2012.

Over the next six years the estimated total savings could reach $90 million.

Dropping the contracts would eliminate 2.2 percent of the jobs in the Galena region, which has about 2,000 people, according to the commission.

City Manager Marvin Yoder said if the money stops flowing, Galena could lose 25 percent of its jobs.

"Initially, the impact is going to be devastating," Yoder said.

The Air Force pays the state about $400,000 annually to give the 7,200-foot runway extra attention, said Bill O'Halloran, regional aviation manager for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

The commission's decision to consider closing Galena is not final. The commission has agreed to look further into the idea as part of the nationwide base closure and realignment process. By law, before the commission takes a final vote at least two commissioners must visit Galena.

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