CIRA Takes Action to Improve Financial Standing and Emergency Response

 Recent bond refinancing efforts put the Central Illinois Regional Airport in even better financial shape,  airport authority officials say. CIRA Executive Director Carl Olson said the move ultimately saves money for Bloomington-Normal's taxpayers. (Image credit: Breanna Grow)

Recent bond refinancing efforts put the Central Illinois Regional Airport in even better financial shape,  airport authority officials say. CIRA Executive Director Carl Olson said the move ultimately saves money for Bloomington-Normal's taxpayers. (Image credit: Breanna Grow)

Main Point: The Central Illinois Regional Airport has taken steps to improve its financial standing and to further train staff to respond to emergency situations.

Bond Refinancing

Airport authority officials say the airport is in better financial shape after refinancing its bonds last month.  

Airport authority board commissioners last month approved a bond ordinance that allowed the issuance of over $6.4M in new bonds. CIRA Chief Financial Officer Paulette Hurd said Tuesday the airport used proceeds from the new bonds to help pay off its 2008a and 2012 bond series.

“We also contributed some additional bond funds that we had in reserve to pay down the principal, so rather than two issuances that were going to take ten or more years to pay off, we have one issuance at a lower interest rate that will be paid off in four and a half years,” said CIRA Executive Director Carl Olson.

Commissioners thanked Hurd, who joined the airport authority in June of 2017 after serving as chief accountant for the City of Bloomington, for her role in leading the process.

Key Takeaway: The bond refinancing will result in a $1.3M savings, which Olson said “ultimately comes as a savings to the taxpayers.”

“This is just another indication of the capability and resources we have to do these things, because we have such good financial footing.”

Go Further: Editorial: It's Time for a Whole County to Pay CIRA Airport Tax

Live Emergency Training

Airport staff completed the first of two days of live training exercises Tuesday to make sure they’re prepared to handle security emergencies at CIRA.

Operations Supervisor Javier Centeno said CIRA coordinated with TSA, FBI, Bloomington Police Department, Peoria Police Department Bomb Squad and the Secretary of State to put on various training scenarios.

The airport maintained regular operations during the event.

Emergency scenarios included an unattended bag in the baggage claim area and a suspicious bag at a TSA checkpoint.

Centeno said the airport is required to complete tabletop exercises every three years. The live trainings hearken back to last year when staff responded to a suspicious bag in the terminal.

“We were tested in a spot we didn’t want to be tested,” said Centeno. The exercises allow staff to practice keeping travelers safe during an emergency and transitioning back to regular operations once the threat has been removed.

Training demonstrations continue Wednesday with the airport open for normal operations.

NewsBreanna GrowCIRA, Finance