Let change take flight

Successful airport deserves autonomous authority

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If Augusta wanted to build a new airport from scratch using the aviation industry’s best practices, it would not operate the way Augusta Regional Airport is run now.

Most airport functions are overseen by an executive director who reports to the Augusta Aviation Commission, a 10-member board appointed by the Augusta Commission.

However, some operations – including the time-sensitive and cumbersome functions of purchasing and human resources – are run through city hall.

That is not a best practice.

Grumbling over delayed pay raises and grant applications has renewed interest in amending the city’s charter to sever administrative ties with the Augusta Commission, placing all day-to-day operations under the authority of the Aviation Commission.

Problem is, a charter change would require approval from at least eight of the 10 Augusta commissioners, or a majority of legislators from the local delegation.

And right now, those elected officials appear more interested in consolidating power than trying to let a self-sufficient and mostly autonomous division flourish though complete independence.

They should rethink their positions.

The airport does just fine without micromanagement and likely would do better if freed from all constraints of city government bureaucracy. Airports are businesses, and should be run as businesslike as possible.

Augusta Regional does not draw from the city’s general fund. It pays its own way, a claim most government entities cannot make. That means the airport’s 60-plus city employees could easily be made employees of an airport authority with no reduction in their salaries and benefits packages.

And granting the Aviation Commission the same sort of autonomy afforded to other county authorities – such as the Augusta Downtown Development Authority or the Development Authority of Richmond County – would not necessarily reduce the Augusta Commission’s influence on policy issues.

Under current rules, once an Augusta commissioner appoints someone to the Aviation Commission, that appointee cannot be removed until his or her term expires. Removal powers could be added under a modified city charter or through the creation of an authority.

Most importantly, the structural change would bring Augusta Regional Airport in line with larger and similar-sized airports throughout the country. The current operating structure is alien to many municipal aviation officials, making it difficult for local leaders to attract the best candidates in the future.

Despite its awkward operational structure, Augusta Regional Airport is on a roll. Its financials are in the best shape in years, boardings are up and it is enjoying a growing reputation among general aviation circles for its new world-class general aviation terminal.

Why not cut the red tape and allow the airport to really spread its wings?

Comments (11) Add comment
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Riverman1
86856
Points
Riverman1 04/01/14 - 04:41 am
10
0
Would You Let Marion Williams Pilot the Plane?

Imagine if University Hospital had stayed under Richmond County Commission control. Anything to distance the airport from the Commission the better. The airport appears to be flying high.

Bizkit
32895
Points
Bizkit 04/01/14 - 07:44 am
7
0
Anything the commission

Anything the commission touches seems to turn to poo.

seenitB4
90720
Points
seenitB4 04/01/14 - 07:45 am
8
1
Right on the money with this AC

PERFECT!!

Let them fly on their own....

deestafford
28644
Points
deestafford 04/01/14 - 09:53 am
4
0
Why was the current system established in the....

Why was the current system established in the first place?

Why in the world is it when governments are setting up something that they don't look at other locales and see how they are handling their situation? Then we learn from them. It doesn't appear that the Augusta Commission know of this technique of gathering information. One would think it would as much money and time they go off to meeting and "training" courses to learn their job.

corgimom
34029
Points
corgimom 04/01/14 - 10:50 am
0
8
Do you want the airport to be

Do you want the airport to be governed by outsiders, who may or may not have connections to Augusta?

corgimom
34029
Points
corgimom 04/01/14 - 10:52 am
0
8
This just happened in

This just happened in Charlotte, there was a huge fight over this. Charlotte wanted control over THEIR airport, not turned over to a commission of just anybody.

An airport is critical to a city, it is better for the people to control it, not some strangers.

thauch12
6852
Points
thauch12 04/01/14 - 11:39 am
6
0
"Do you want the airport to

"Do you want the airport to be governed by outsiders, who may or may not have connections to Augusta?"

That may not be such a bad thing... This is an airport after all (barely with it's grand total of two destinations but an airport nonetheless), not some cultural landmark that would be spoiled by "outsiders." Who knows...bringing in outside people may just be what it takes to get this airport moving in the right direction. But the more pressing issue is that having the Augusta Commission have any role in the operation of this facility is useless if not downright detrimental.

deestafford
28644
Points
deestafford 04/01/14 - 12:38 pm
4
0
cogi makes a good point, but is it not possible...

cogni makes a good point, but is it not possible to have an airport commission that is somewhere in between outsiders and patronage by the commissioners?

On the other hand, is the problem the people on the airport commission or is it interference by the county commission? From what I understand the problem is not with the airport commission but interference by the county/city commission.

If we get the county commission out of it would we still have it appoint the airport commission or would there be some other method?

To avoid "outsiders'' as cogi points out in Charlotte a requirement that the members of the airport commission would have to be residents of the CSRA.

Doug Lively
82
Points
Doug Lively 04/01/14 - 02:34 pm
6
0
Current

proposed legislation would continue the selection of Aviation Authority members as appointees of the Augusta County Commissioners (10 positions) and local Legislative Delegation (2 positions). This should no more allow "outsiders" than the current commission structure now.

Gage Creed
17857
Points
Gage Creed 04/01/14 - 08:40 pm
3
0
(insert quote about wise men

(insert quote about wise men and virgins here and here and here and here)

itsanotherday1
45340
Points
itsanotherday1 04/01/14 - 08:43 pm
4
0
That is what I was thinking

That is what I was thinking Doug. The commission is still appointed, but would be divorced from any control by the stooges downtown.

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