The Covington City council has been busy working on the future of the Covington airport, spending time during Monday’s council meeting and Tuesday’s work session trying to set a course.
Monday, the council approved work on the southeast apron and Tuesday came to a consensus on future T hangars and taking over the running of the airport from the Airport Authority, pending approval by city attorney’s Ed Crudup and Frank Turner, Jr..
After reviewing the airport’s finances due to interest in hangar space, Councilman Chris Smith asked for further discussion about the running of the airport. Among the items he wanted to discuss was the authority’s necessity. An enabling act that went in front of the state legislature helped create the authority that has the ability to issue bonds and run the day-to-day operations, including overseeing tenants. However, the city financially subsidizes the airport.
Smith questioned those roles, concerning a possible loan of $400,000 for new hangars.
“The biggest question I have is about the loan itself,” he said. “The way I see it, we already backed a loan for them ($240,000 in August of 2012). They lease out (airport space) and are earning money. The city is losing money at this point.”
The timing of questing the need for the airport authority is pertinent due to the fact that four authority board members are up for reappointment, with one spot needing to be filled by a new member.
After discussion among council members, authority board members Vincent Passariello and Don Smith, and attorneys Crudup and Turner, Jr., the board came to the consensus that the authority was needed, but not to run the day-to-day operations.
Since the authority was created by an enabling act, Covington would need to go to the state legislature in order to disband it. Furthermore, the authority has the ability to issue bonds, which the city does not.
Therefore, the council came to a consensus to keep the authority, but only utilize it when bonds were needed to be issued.
Both Passariello and Smith seemed to think the authority would be in support of Knight’s recommendation of deeding land back to the city.
“The authority was created with the need of leasing some land that the city couldn’t have done,” Passariello said. “We deeded five acres, plus two tracks, in order to get (Standridge) off the ground.
“Is there a need for that anymore? No. Laws have changed and (the city) can issue loans now.”
Passariello is a city employee and said there would be no problem with the city operating the airport, nor would additional staff be needed.
Many changes are expected at the airport over the next few years, with clients looking at renting space, terminal changes in the works and construction now set to begin on the apron. Monday, the council voted for a $1,642,299.35 contract with Pittman construction and $378,376 contract with Legacy Water Works that the city will receive a reimbursement for.
Throughout those changes, the council said it wants to put the city in the best position to receive the economic benefits.
“I was more on board about doing the authority when the (Fixed-base operator) was out there and it was a train wreck,” Smith said. “But the city is out there running the day-to-day operations of the airport anyway. I think the city can run the airport. Do we keep letting the Airport Authority grow and prosper and make profits when we’re losing money?”