Efforts are under way to ensure the Ramona Airport air traffic control tower stays open despite federal funding hanging in balance, according to Congressman Duncan Hunter’s office.
“We’ll take every action ...to work with community leaders to make sure that it remains open,” said Michael Harrison, deputy chief of staff in Hunter’s El Cajon office and a Ramona resident.
The control tower, funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was one of many small airport towers slated for closure earlier in the year due to federal budget cuts known as sequestration. Pressure to keep the towers open, especially for Ramona Airport that serves as an air attack base when battling wildfires, pushed the government to restore funding to the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, looms with no federal budget approved yet and talk of a government shutdown. However, Harrison said, “There’s no desire on either side for the government to shut down.”
He said the congressman and his staff do not anticipate any disruption in the tower’s service and function.
If there is a shutdown, Harrison said it would be highly unlikely air traffic tower operations would suspend Oct. 1, and they would fight to ensure that doesn’t happen, especially with the peak fire season approaching.
“Congressman Hunter recognizes this is a critical time for the Ramona and backcountry community to have that resource available,” said Harrison.