BETHEL — Selectmen approved a solicitation letter from the Bethel Airport that asks for the other three towns in the district to start contributing a portion of money for the annual operating costs. In the letter, it suggests that Bethel remains responsible for completely funding the local share of capital improvements, but takes on only $85,000 of the annual operating costs, with the remaining $15,000 picked up by the other three towns.

“These operating costs at the Bethel Regional Airport total about $100,000 per year and deliver a benefit to the region well beyond Bethel’s boundaries,” the letter read. “In a spirit of regional cooperation, we ask that our neighboring towns now agree to fund a portion of the annual operations moving forward.”

The airport runs year-round and typical maintenance over that span can include lighting, mowing, snow removal, pavement striping, crack sealing, building repair, fence repair, tie-down repair and communications.

Bethel has been in a partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration since 1972 under the conditions that it contributes 10 percent of the cost for capital improvements (other 90% covered by federal funding) and that it operates all year and is in compliance with federal standards.

The Bethel Airport Authority comes up with the annual budget and the seven members are all appointed by the selectmen. The members can be a resident anywhere in Oxford County, according to the letter.

Town Manager Loretta Powers sent the solicitation letter to the other towns but as of Monday afternoon had not gotten any responses.

The airport has been providing aviation services for the greater Bethel area since 1945.

In other news, Selectmen set May 17 as the date for public hearings on the town’s sign, food, and wind and solar moratorium ordinances. The hearing will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Bethel Inn Conference Center. Selectmen also agreed to sign the town meeting warrant at their May 24 meeting. More information on the ordinances can be obtained at the town office.

Town Clerk Christen Mason said absentee ballots are now available for the upcoming June election. Citizens will vote for selectmen, assessor and school board members.

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