City to consider loan for Ascent hangar project

Roswell city elected officials are considering intercity loans this week to the Roswell Air Center that would be used for the Ascent Aviation Services wide-body hangar project. Site work that began Feb. 7 is seen in this photo on Tuesday. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Shortly after celebrating the start of site work for the new Ascent Aviation Services wide-body hangar at a Feb. 12 groundbreaking ceremony at the Roswell Air Center, city elected officials are considering providing $11.1 million in upfront money for the project to cover the costs of planning, designing and erecting the new structure.

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

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

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

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

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As planned now, the general fund would contribute $4.1 million. The water fund would provide $4 million. The solid waste fund would give $2 million, while the wastewater fund would loan $1 million. According to a city document, the funds can provide the money “without detriment of any function or activity.”

The city loans would then be repaid with 10 years of annual payments of about $1,301,259 starting June 1, 2023. Those payments would cover the principal as well as interest of about $1.91 million.

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

Later on Thursday, at 5 p.m., the Roswell City Council intends to convene for a special meeting at the Convention Center to discuss and possibly vote on the intercity loan as well as a land lease for Store Master Fund LLC.

Store Master would then sublet the land to Ascent Aviation for use for its hangar. The 45-year lease for 9.9 acres would start at 10 cents a 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 “reimbursement of capital investments made by the city.” The Ascent Aviation site is near West Earl Cummings Loop.

“The lease agreement with Store/Ascent will acknowledge those expenses and the intention to reimburse them over the course of the lease,” Neeb said.

Ascent Aviation Services is an established company operating for about 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 airplanes on the market. Ascent Aviation President David Querio has said that the company intends to invest about $18 million in its Roswell operations over five to 10 years. It also plans to hire 100 people its first year of operations and as many as 360 by year five.

The company also is receiving $4 million in state Local Economic Development Act funding, tied to job creation and other benchmarks. In addition, site and infrastructure work is partly being paid for by $3 million of a $5 million capital outlay award given to Chaves County in 2020.

The Roswell City Council also will consider other matters at the special meeting, including approval of a person to serve as interim city clerk. That 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 at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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