The Idaho Transportation Department wants to spend $2 million next year to replace one of the airplanes in the state’s three-plane fleet, a 45-year-old Cessna 182.
“Replacing an aging 45-year-old single prop airplane with a modern aircraft … will be safer for our customers,” ITD Director Brian Ness told the Legislature’s joint budget committee on Monday. “Turboprop planes have a much better safety rating” and are better suited for use in emergencies such as search and rescue, he said.
ITD’s current fleet includes a King Air, a Cessna 206 and a Cessna 182. The King Air, which can carry 10 passengers, can be flown in all types of weather, and can reach most places in Idaho within an hour, is used the most. The Cessna 206 was purchased in 1978, can carry five passengers and is capable of carrying oversized cargo. The Cessna 182, which was purchased in 1972, can carry three passengers.
More than 40 state agencies use the state planes, ITD reports, including for emergency transportation for the Idaho State Police and the state Department of Correction; for search and rescue; for emergency transport of hazardous materials; and for non-emergency transportation of state employees. Between the three planes, the state logged 384 one-way flight segments last year, according to ITD records.
Ness requested that the $2 million for the purchase of the plane come from the state’s Aeronautics Fund, which comes from aviation fuel taxes, aircraft licensing fees, fines and penalties.
Gov. Butch Otter’s budget recommendation for ITD for next year comes to a total of $706.3 million, a 6.2 percent increase from this year’s level; ITD is funded with dedicated funds that largely come from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, and with federal highway allocations. For next year, under Otter’s recommendation, $317.9 million of ITD’s budget would come from federal funds, and $388.4 million from state dedicated funds.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will begin crafting state agency budgets on Feb. 16.