"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."
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-03-10 02:43:23 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:56:33 GMT
Flags were flying on the Statehouse steps Sunday afternoon as more than 500 people gathered for the Gun Owners of Vermont Rally."Vermonters -- not just hunting Vermonters who happen to have firearms forMore >>
A trio of gun control measures may have gotten the green light from Burlington voters on Town Meeting Day, but the charter changes face strong opposition across the state, and a possible uphill battle at the Statehouse.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:43 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:43:32 GMT
Is the marketing behind Electronic Cigarettes aimed at kids?New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) says the industry's trendy packaging and flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy aren't foolingMore >>
Schumer is co-sponsoring a Senate bill that would ban e-cigarette marketing aimed at kids.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:42:02 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.Members of the so-called Senate Climate Action Task Force -- nearly two dozen in allMore >>
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:40 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:40:46 GMT
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.The owner of the home on Pike Drive called for help a little after 9:30 a.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived theyMore >>
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:38:52 GMT
Jazz fingers, dance moves -- and plenty of passion. The Urban Reach Dance Convention is giving aspiring dancers the chance to learn from some of the music industry's most acclaimed teachers, who have workedMore >>
Aspiring dancers hit the floor this weekend at the 8th annual Urban Reach Dance Convention.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 6:08 PM EDT2014-03-09 22:08:59 GMT
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County. CCTA officials told us in a statement that after 19 hours of negotiations that went into the morningMore >>
Sunday morning CCTA officials announced that after a marathon negotiation session they delivered a complete contract proposal to the union.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 2:52 PM EDT2014-03-09 18:52:05 GMT
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend. His office says the Governor was at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. He is expected toMore >>
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend.More >>