City considering loan for Ascent hangar project

City of Roswell officials are considering intercity loans to the Roswell Air Center this week that would be used for the Ascent Aviation Services wide-body hangar project. Work on the site which began on February 7 can be seen in this photo on Tuesday. (Photo by Lisa Dunlap)

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Shortly after celebrating the start of work on the site of the new Ascent Aviation Services wide-body aircraft hangar at a Feb. 12 ground-breaking ceremony at Roswell Air Center, city officials plan to provide 11, $1 million in seed money for the project to cover the costs of planning, designing and erecting the new structure.

Roswell elected officials are due to meet multiple times this week to consider a 10-year intercity loan to the Roswell Air Center that will be used for the jumbo hangar project.

City Manager Joe Neeb wrote in an email that “Intercity Loans (must) combine enough city funding into one account to cover anticipated expenses associated with this project.”

He added that while the current intention is for Ascent Aviation and its financing groups to repay the loans, the financing of the “Ascent large hangar project remains financially fluid as it takes into account a number of factors including the legislative grant funding and city support. improvements to its infrastructure.

According to city documents released Friday, money for the work would come from the city’s general fund, solid waste, water and sewage. These funds would then be transferred to a Roswell Air Center fund to be used for the Ascent Aviation project.

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As expected now, the general fund would provide $4.1 million. The water fund would provide $4 million. The solid waste fund would give $2 million, while the sewage fund would lend $1 million. According to a city document, the funds can provide money “without prejudice to any function or activity.”

The city loans would then be repaid with 10 years of annual payments of approximately $1,301,259 beginning June 1, 2023. These payments would cover principal plus interest of approximately $1.91 million.

Members of the Roswell City Council Finance Committee will consider the matter first. They are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Roswell Convention Center, 912 N. Main St. The meeting will also be streamed live, with links provided in the meeting agenda. The agenda is posted on the city’s website, roswell-nm.gov.

Later Thursday at 5 p.m., the Roswell City Council intends to call a special meeting at the convention center to discuss and possibly vote on the long distance loan as well as a ground lease for Store Master Fund LLC.

Store Master would then sublet the land to Ascent Aviation for its hangar. The 45-year lease for 9.9 acres would start at 10 cents per square foot for its initial term and, according to a city document, would include an agreement that the company and its financing groups will provide “repayment of capital investments made by the city. The Ascent Aviation site is near West Earl Cummings Loop.

“The lease agreement with Store/Ascent will recognize these expenses and the intent to reimburse them over the term of the lease,” Neeb said.

Ascent Aviation Services is an established company that has been in operation for approximately 40 years and has two maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations in Arizona. It intends to operate an MRO at the Air Center, with its new wide-body fabric hangar essential to its business plans to service the largest commercial transport aircraft in the market. Ascent Aviation President David Querio said the company plans to invest about $18 million in its Roswell operations over five to 10 years. It also plans to hire 100 people in the first year of operation and up to 360 by the fifth year.

The company also receives $4 million in funding from the state’s Local Economic Development Act, tied to job creation and other benchmarks. In addition, site and infrastructure work is partially funded by $3 million of a $5 million equity grant awarded to Chaves County in 2020.

The Roswell City Council will also consider other matters at the special meeting, including approving someone to serve as acting city clerk. This action follows the resignation of the former clerk, Sharon Coll, whose last official day was Thursday.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or to [email protected]

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