"I knew we had a state plane somewhere, but I didn't think we ever used it," said Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle County).
The state's current aircraft is a 1962 three passenger Cessna 182. It's housed at the state airport in Berlin. Senator Dick Mazza said he was shocked when the topic of buying a new aircraft was pitched to his Senate Transportation Committee. "It raised a lot of eyebrows in our committee about, one: do we need a plane? two: what's the cost? and who's using it?" he said.
Vermont's aviation director wants a brand new five passenger Beechcraft Baron. The lease-to-own program would cost taxpayers $155-thousand a year for the next ten years.
"It's a lot of money to be spent for a state plane that nobody knows about," Sen. Mazza said.
"We need a state airplane to maintain the airports, and the truth is this one's gotten old," said Chris Cole with VTrans.
The Agency of Transportation said it logs 75 flying hours annually using the plane to conduct inspections and safety equipment checks at state airports. The other 75-hours are logged by other state agencies for aerial surveying of clear cutting and illegal dumping investigations, as well as transportation for executive staff.
"The governor has used the plane on occasion," Cole said. "He uses it for those types of things where he has to be in two places at the same time."
VTrans officials said the Cessna's engine, propeller and avionics need replacing. A fix that costs $83-thousand. They said the plane is only worth $80-thousand. "Is it wise to spend $83-thousand to keep an old airplane up in the air that has potential safety issues, that has reached its useful life? I don't think that's a good use of money," Cole said.
And officials said chartering a plane is not cost effective either -- at rates of $2,200 per hour, they say an aircraft would cost double to rent.
"I don't think it's a good use of taxpayer money to spend $330-thousand a year chartering someone else's plane when we could spend 150-thousand a year owning our own," Cole said.
But lawmakers back in Montpelier aren't clearing this plan for take-off. "At this time when there's no money available. We're not about to jump onto something at that cost," Sen. Mazza said. "I'm just looking at the dollars and cents and to me it doesn't make a lot of sense."
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:42 AM EST2013-12-10 05:42:52 GMT
A busy night Monday at the Burlington city council meeting where redistricting the city was a major discussion. Population shifts have forced the city to remap Burlington's districts to create more equalMore >>
A busy night Monday at the Burlington city council meeting where redistricting the city was a major discussion.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:41 AM EST2013-12-10 05:41:52 GMT
Burlington considers plans for the run-down Moran Plant. For 25 years, the coal-fired power plant has stood empty on the Burlington waterfront. A proposed project -- called the "New Moran" -- would beMore >>
Burlington considers plans for the run-down Moran Plant.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:41 AM EST2013-12-10 05:41:12 GMT
A child playing with a lighter was responsible for a Champlain, New York apartment fire. That's according to the Champlain Fire Department. Firefighters arrived at this apartment complex at 25 SpruceMore >>
A child playing with a lighter was responsible for a Champlain, New York apartment fire. That's according to the Champlain Fire Department.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:39 AM EST2013-12-10 05:39:43 GMT
An equipment fire kept crews busy in Middlebury Monday. About 30 firefighters responded to a blaze at the Champlain Valley Equipment facility on Exchange Street. The Middlebury fire chief says there'sMore >>
An equipment fire kept crews busy in Middlebury Monday.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:35 AM EST2013-12-10 05:35:13 GMT
Police say a woman walked out of the WalMart in Williston with two stolen computers Monday.The suspect was caught on surveillance cameras. The HP Pavilion computers are worth more than $1,000. If youMore >>
Police say a woman walked out of the Wal Mart in Williston with two stolen computers Monday.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 10:26 PM EST2013-12-10 03:26:26 GMT
South Burlington is using a grant to tackle the slew of vacant properties near the airport.The city will use $17,000 for community outreach and research to make a plan for the homes. They were purchasedMore >>
South Burlington is using a grant to tackle the slew of vacant properties near the airport.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 8:51 PM EST2013-12-10 01:51:48 GMT
When it comes to education, teachers say they know what it takes to motivate students, and also what doesn't work -- including standardized testing, cookie cutter curriculums and what NEA President MarthaMore >>
The Vermont NEA unveiled its "Agenda for Student Success" proposal Monday, and it points to a new computer education program at one high school as the type of learning kids need.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 8:43 PM EST2013-12-10 01:43:09 GMT
"We are trying to create a few new affordable housing units so that people have a chance to move beyond shelter and regain their independence," said Rita Markley, Executive Director of the Committee onMore >>
COTS reaching out to Old North End neighbors in the development of new affordable housing and a daystation.More >>