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Heber airport runway design up for council vote before FAA review

KPCW News
The Heber City Council meets at Heber City Hall, 75 North Main Street.

Heber City and Heber Valley Airport planners say they’re nearing the end of a years-long study to upgrade the runway. The next step in that process is one of the primary focuses of the upcoming city council meeting.

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered renovations at the Heber Valley Airport, and the city has studied how best to do so for years. On Tuesday, the city council will decide whether to send a major part of that plan to the FAA for review.

It includes a design to widen the runway from 75 feet to 100 feet, shift it southwest and enlarge safety buffer zones. The plan also features a park, new hangars and a lounge and restroom for pilots.

The council is scheduled to vote to give city staff the green light to send the plan to the federal government.

According to the FAA, the upgrades are required because the airport is not up to standards for the types of planes using it. City and airport planners say the goal is to do the minimum to come into compliance with FAA regulations, as required by contracts between the city and federal agency.

If the FAA finds the airport out of compliance, it could cut off funding for costs like runway improvements and new facilities. According to city projections, that cost could exceed $80 million over the next 20 years.

The council will also hold a discussion about its upcoming municipal election. This year, the seats occupied by Mike Johnston, Rachel Kahler and Ryan Stack are up for election.

The discussion Tuesday is about election procedure — specifically, how to count votes.

In 2021, the city adopted ranked-choice voting, allowing voters to rank city council candidates in order of preference instead of limiting votes to one per seat.

According to the staff report, the council will discuss whether to use the method again this year. It also notes that a bill under consideration in the current state legislative session could repeal ranked-choice voting as an option.

City staff said the first year went well, although ballots filled out incorrectly caused long vote-counting delays on election night. A couple months later, the city released responses to a survey wherein residents were split in their preferences — about 40% in favor and 40% opposed.

A work meeting begins at 4 p.m., and the regular meeting is at 6 p.m. at Heber City Hall, 75 North Main Street. The full agenda and how to attend the meeting via Zoom are available at heberut.gov.