Despite some support to end county oversight of Augusta Regional Airport, the airport’s governing board rejected a resolution Thursday that would favor the proposal to cut down on red tape for airport operations.
Augusta Commission member Joe Jackson recommended Augusta Regional seek state legislation creating an independent airport authority rather than a commission that reports to county government. Normal business operations can be delayed as much as two months after the airport commission approves them and sends them to the county, he said.
Most aviation commission members supported the idea of creating an authority but want to know more before it happens. Several commissioners questioned whether the airport would need additional staff members if they didn’t have county employees to process many requests.
Aviation commissioner Karlton Howard suggested meeting in work sessions to determine the impact of creating an authority.
Augusta Regional Executive Director Gary LeTellier said he recommends an authority over a commission. Many other major airports operate under an authority, and the Augusta Commission, procurement and human resources departments continue to delay requests, he said.
“Trying to manage the airport through the county’s programs is difficult at best,” LeTellier said.
At Thursday’s meeting, the aviation commission was forced to reapprove the purchase of police simulator software that originally came before the group in November. The final price was $10,000 less than approved, but the county procurement office required it to go back to the airport. That’s just one example of business taking longer than wanted, LeTellier said. The airport also had an ongoing issue with processing payroll. which could lead to lawsuits, he said.
LeTellier, who received a $10,000 raise Thursday after his performance evaluation, won’t likely be around to see the change to an authority if the commission moves forward with the idea. He plans to retire next year. His raise brought his yearly salary to $160,000 – $30,000 more than when he joined the airport four years ago.
Aviation commissioner Lowell Dorn, who along with chairman Doug Lively favored the resolution, said an authority would save the airport time and headaches.
“This is just an effort to take some of the complexity out of this process,” Dorn said.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the commission reappointed Lively as chairman and Kellie McIntyre
vice chairwoman to serve a second year.