FILLMORE -- A lack of state-federal funding could place airports at Fillmore and Delta in jeopardy, and local officials fear the situation is serious enough that closure could be a possibility within the next few years.

The funding is used for major improvements such as runway paving.Fillmore officials say that airport could close within the next two years if a funding solution is not found and Delta officials project they have about five years before major improvements will be needed.

Most of the $4.5 million doled out to Utah airports by the Aeronautical Operations Division of the Utah Department of Transportation through a matching funds program has been depleted. Much of the state's money for major airport improvements comes from the federal government and is administered through UDOT.

Runways at the Delta Municipal Airport were upgraded about 10 years ago, but a seal coat will be needed within a few years, according to Mayor Dale Roper. Crack sealing is needed periodically at the Fillmore Airport, and that will soon be needed, according to City Recorder Marlene Cummings.

Fillmore uses money from its own coffers to maintain the hangar, maintenance and operations, but depends on state and federal assistance to maintain the runway. Without that money, Cummings notes, the airport could become obsolete and have to be closed.

Airports in small communities are losing propositions financially, but local officials feel they are an economic asset and a convenience. The Fillmore and Delta airports are also used by banks and the sheriff's department.

Millard County Sheriff Ed Phillips has an airplane and says both airports are important to his department. The plane is used over the vast geographic area and remote reaches of the county for search and rescue as well as for business and transporting prisoners.

The cost to resurface the runway and apron at the Fillmore Airport the last time was $76,000, Cummings noted. The city paid about about $20,000 for the last sealing project and had to fork out $80,000 to remove underground fuel storage tanks in order to comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. New tanks were installed above ground.

Some financial assistance was provided by Millard County through revenue sharing but the county no longer participates in that program.

Some 20 small Utah airports are targeted for cuts if funding isn't forthcoming. When more money becomes available the situation will be reviewed, it was stated in a letter written to the affected communities by the Aeronautical Division's planner, Monte Yeager.