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Posted: September 23, 2009 12:30 a.m.

City: airport violates contract

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Under construction: The runway was torn up this week in preparations for the repaving, which is planned to be completed by late November.

The City of Covington could soon be running the municipal airport itself after the city council voted to conditionally terminate its contract with Atlanta East Aviation, the airport’s current fixed-base operator.

The decision was made because AEA broke the terms of its contract with the city, by allowing its general liability insurance coverage to lapse for more than 10 working days from the date it was notified by the city. AEA had no coverage from July 24 past Sept. 16, and this was the second lapse AEA had in the past 12 months.

AEA Manager Rusty Anglin said the insurance company has accepted responsibility for the lapse, because the policy was never supposed to have been cancelled. He said he was shopping for cheaper insurance and the policy was accidentally dropped. For the time being, he said the current insurance has been renewed through January 2010, but Mayor Kim Carter said that officially, the contract was still breached.

The contract has not yet been terminated, because the council was unsure about how the city would proceed without an FBO. As a result, the council voted to terminate the contract contingent on a report from the city attorney and city manager after they had reexamined the contract and the implications of the city taking over the FBO.

Councilmember John Howard said there running an FBO is a complicated process and the council will think out their plan.
City Attorney Ed Crudup said the city owns the building, and without further research, he believed the city would take over operation temporarily until another FBO was found.

However, Mayor Kim Carter said the current system of having an outside company run the city’s airport is an outdated method, which is only used by a handful of cities. She said she has visited other airports around the state, and in most cases an airport authority was placed in charge of the airport. Carter has placed a big emphasis on developing and modernizing the airport during her term in office.
The council said multiple times its decision was not personal, but simply that it was concerned about the fact that the insurance had lapsed twice for extended period of times.

The vote was 4 to 1 in favor of cancelling the contract, with Janet Goodman opposing, because she said she didn’t want to put people out of work in the economy. Councilmember Keith Dalton was absent.

On a separate but related note, AEA has $3,000 in unpaid storm water bills. Anglin said AEA was willing to pay the bills as soon as someone explained why the company had to pay that much money for a 7-acre property. The parties agreed to set up a meeting soon.

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