Valdosta Daily Times

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November 15, 2012

Airport Authority chair states County Commission came up short

VALDOSTA — In October, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority granted permission to chair Steve Everett to write a letter to the Lowndes County Commission concerning $150,000 that the commission shorted the authority.

When the Valdosta Regional Airport had hangars built on the property, both the city of Valdosta and Lowndes County pledged $900,000.

According to Everett, the city paid their part in full but the county failed to pay $150,000 of the dedicated funds.

Everett's letter was an attempt to mediate the situation and solicit a solution from the commission.

“I didn't see any plan to mediate that,” said Everett of the commission's response to the authority at their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday.

Everett stated that according to the commission, they were unable to pay the $150,000 because they came up short with SPLOST funds.

“I don't even know what to suggest,” said Everett to the board.

Subsequently, the authority had to borrow the $150,000 from the city which they are now paying back with interest.

According to Lowndes County Manager Joe Pritchard, when the proceeds from SPLOST began to come in, it was apparent that the county’s contribution would have to be reduced by $150,000.

The airport hangars weren't the only projects that had to be cut and nearly all projects had to be cut by a larger percentage than what was cut for the airport.

“Currently, funds are still lower than our anticipated revenue,” said Pritchard.

The county was anticipating $182 million in SPLOST revenue, but now it looks like about $150 million will be collected.

“We're not at a point right now where we could give these funds,” said Pritchard.

While SPLOST was the cause of lost money and a detriment to the airport in this instance, executive director and manager of the airport Jim Galloway stated that SPLOST VII not passing actually impacted the airport positively.

The SPLOST that was voted on in November didn't include any airport projects. According to Galloway, when SPLOST comes back around, they may be able to get some airport projects on the list.

Aside from financial hiccups and talks of SPLOST, it was business as usual at the monthly meeting.

A new addition to the board's packet by Galloway included a chart that showed flight times, the percentage that they were on time, the minutes they were delayed and how many flights were cancelled.

Everett reacted positively to the report’s addition because, according to him, it's concrete information to dispel rumors of poor service at the airport.

“It's good to have this information so we can dispel those rumors that are going around town,” said Everett.

According to the information, from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, only two flights were cancelled.

"It's always those one or two flights that are cancelled that we hear about," said Everett.

In other business:

- Galloway reported that the airfield drainage rehab and the Airfield Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) station design, drainage phase II and ARFF vehicle projects are progressing.

- Galloway reported that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will be participating in their Wildlife Hazard Assessment. The total cost of the assessment will cost $95,000.

The Valdotsa-Lowndes County Airport Authority will meet again Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 8 a.m. at the Valdosta Regional Airport.

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