By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. — Lawmakers passed a bill granting the Federal Aviation Administration the power to shift millions around to end employee furloughs that started causing flight delays.
The legislation gives the FAA the ability to move $253 million from accounts flush with money to other programs to prevent reduced operations and staffing through the end of the federal government's fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Airport officials like Gary Johnson, who manages Stillwater Regional Airport, hope the FAA will use some of the money to fund 149 air traffic control towers at smaller airports scheduled to lose funding June 15.
"The money is there but they have not been directed to do it," Johnson said. The FAA has now been given the flexibility and the funds to keep towers open and should do so to make sure skies are safe, Johnson said.
Should the FAA not act on the towers, the city has approved a plan to spend up to $104,000 to keep Stillwater's tower open until the end of the fiscal year.