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Phil Nolan. Town of Islip, Supervisor

November 5, 2010 @ 12:00 am EDT


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This morning we were back in our usual MacArthur Holiday Inn location to hear from Phil Nolan about the state of the Town of Islip in general, and the role of Long Island MacArthur Airport (LIMA) in particular.  The affable, animated supervisor has been a LIMBA speaker in the past and opened his talk with some reminiscences of meetings and events with the familiar faces in attendance.

Coming off of last night’s Town Board meeting where the new budget was approved, Mr. Nolan gave us the high and lowlights of town finances during his administration.  To the good, the town’s general fund tax rate remained flat from last year.  The recession has dried up ten to fifteen million dollars per year in revenue, mostly from the decline in Mortgage Tax revenue over the past few years.  The supervisor has responded by downsizing the town government, shrinking the number of employees by 25%, mostly through attrition.  Last year however, he did have to lay off thirty seven people, one of the most personally difficult things that he has done in his career.

LIMA has felt the recession also, with passenger emplanements currently running at 1.9 million per year, down from a peak of 2.3 million.  In spite of this, it is still the crown jewel of the town and is a great driver of jobs and economic growth.  Mr. Nolan is very enthusiastic about the business community’s embrace of LIMA as a business facility.  He was also kind in his remarks on former supervisor Pete McGowan’s role in building the airport up during his predecessor’s tenure.  

Great praise was also in store for the current airport commissioner, Theresa Rizzuto, who has injected great energy and private sector business acumen into the airport’s current operations.  Ms. Rizzuto and her staff are working with all sectors of the aviation industry and all regions of the hemisphere in drumming up new business for the airport.  

The west side redevelopment of LIMA will be underway soon, with $70MM of investment in the works to create new homes for the major FBOs at the airport, Shelt-air, Mid-Island Aviation, and ExcelAire.  The supervisor claimed that each business jet based at LIMA generates 5 jobs and a million dollars per year in revenue.  Increasing that revenue, especially on the commercial aviation and airline side, is a tall order.  Sales cycles for these arrangements are complex and very long, subject to a lot of pressure from outside factors.  The supervisor told the tale of Spirit Airlines who were done in almost overnight by the massive run up in oil prices.

The net of Mr. Nolan’s talk was that  the airport has been and will continue to be a prime driver of economic development for both the town and Long Island as a region.  With prudent fiscal management and smart management, it has been transformed from a sleepy general aviation field to a modern facility that provides an excellent alternative to the Port Authority airports to the west.

Once again it was another educational opportunity to be at LIMBA meeting with an excellent speaker and learn more about a Long Island institution that served as one of the reasons for LIMBA’s founding.  Please join us for these Friday morning sessions that finish the work week off on a high note and never fail to be of value.

Pictured:Terri Townsend, Ernie Fazio, Supervisor Nolan, Marie Zere