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Council hires new airport employee, consulting firm
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The Covington City Council approved a couple of changes to the Covington Municipal Airport.

Former Assistant County Engineer Vincent Passariello was recently hired by the city to be its new airport engineer.

City Manager Steve Horton introduced the new hire Monday and said over time Passariello will take on the duties normally handed by Horton in his role as airport manager. In addition to being an engineer with knowledge of the local area, Passariello said he is also a pilot.

At a previous work session, Horton said he was planning to hire a city employee to work at the airport to both provide support for Dixie Jet Services, which operates the airport, and ensure that the company is holding up its end of its contract with the city.

In addition, the city did an in-depth search to find a new consulting firm for the airport and chose The LPA Group out of Kennesaw.

For the past several years, the city has worked exclusively with PBS&J on airport projects. However, Horton said this year representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s aviation department said it was time for the city to do a consultant search.

Horton said the city advertised the position and met with several firms, interviewing them and viewing presentations made by the companies. It could have hired PBS&J again, but decided LPA was better suited for the job.

"A couple of things stood out. They were large enough to have resources to meet our needs without having to farm work out to a lot of different people. A one-stop shop," Horton said in a Tuesday phone interview. "They’ve been in the business a long time and they have what I believe is a good relationship with people who are responsible for doing FAA and DOT grant funding. We asked how successful they’ve been about achieving grant funding for clients, and LPA got one of the largest amounts of money given to an airport."

In addition, Horton said the city has worked with Project Manager Alan Hood before, so they knew the quality of his work. The five-year contract will not pay a yearly fee; it will strictly be a project, invoice system.

Though the contract is for five years, Horton required that it have a liberal, walk-away clause for both sides.

"If for any reason we or you become disenchanted that party can cancel the contract. If people are not meeting the taxpayer’s needs, it’s incumbent on us to be able to go elsewhere," Horton said.

PBS&J will continue to work on the existing airport projects, but LPA will handle any new projects.