Organizers for Lakeland's annual Sun 'n Fun Fly In are scrambling as they try to deal with an unexpected bill.
Budget cuts from the ongoing sequester in Washington suddenly means event organizers are on the hook for nearly $300,000 to pay for air traffic controllers.
The 39th annual Sun 'n Fun Fly In begins April 9 with more than 100,000 aviation enthusiast expected to descend on Lakeland Linder Regional Airport and the surrounding area. Fly-In officials will have to pay for 70 temporary FAA air traffic controllers to manage all of the planes.
Sun 'n Fun Director John Leenhouts says despite the budget issue, it is "business as usual."
If anything is affected, he said, it will be cuts to entertainment and some outreach programs associated with the event.
"Things like Porta Potties," Leenhots said. "You know, we are going to cut to the minimum absolutely necessary."
The cuts to educational outreach include college scholarships for high school students at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, located on the Sun 'n Fun grounds.
"Money that we would have used to help kids further their education won't be there," he said.
Meanwhile, Mark Jackson with Polk County's Tourism Department said his agency is trying to secure emergency funding for the Fly-In from the state, county and city of Lakeland.
Jackson said it is imperative the event goes on just as planned as it is a huge tourism draw for the community.
"It (the Sun 'n Fun) has a huge impact," Jackson said of the Sun 'n Fun. "Somewhere around $57 million annually that we simply can't afford to lose."