Rochester Airport Operating on Deficit

Updated: 07/16/2014 6:17 PM
Created: 07/16/2014 5:54 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 News) -- Overall, the City of Rochester is doing pretty well financially. An audit report was presented to the City Council on Monday. But there are some areas of concern.

That audit report showed that the airport is essentially losing money. In 2013, it was operating on a nearly $1 Million deficit.     

"I'm very happy to say today probably the financial picture of Rochester is the best its ever been," said City Councilman Michael Wojcik.

That's the general reaction when it comes to the city's finances. But the numbers for the airport don't look so good.

"We certainly have work to do," said Airport Director Marty Lenss.

For the fifth year in a row, the airport is actually in the red, with a nearly $1 Million deficit. That's taking a toll on the reserves, which were more than $5 Million back in 2008, and only about $500,000 in 2013.

"Certainly with the news of delta's further investment into Rochester and southeast Minnesota with the Atlanta flights, the Detroit flights starting in September. In addition to the Minneapolis flights we're adding two hubs in September. That outside corporate investment is a good indication of the strength of southeast Minnesota , the strength of Rochester," said airport director Marty Lenss.

Another option; taxes.

"We're not going to let the airport go belly up. The airport's an important part of the future of this and whether it's the sales tax, levy, whatever the source we need to find, we're gonna make sure we make ends meet out there, and make sure its successful for our community," said Wojcik.

"Looking forward, last year for example in 2013, our passengers, we finished up about four percent in total passengers. We seem to have hit the trough in our passenger decline and we're on that rebound. Year to date, passenger volumes are up seven percent. So we're seeing some positive trends," said Lenss.  

Another thing to note, while the deficit was close to a million dollars, that's actually less of a deficit than in 2012. The hope is that that trend continues until the airport is once again earning money.

Photo: ABC 6 News