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City issues statement on evolving airport legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 25, 2013

Contacts:
Kim McMillan, Corporate Communications & Marketing
704-336-2643 or kmcmillan@charlottenc.gov

Cass Bonfiglio, Corporate Communications & Marketing
704-336-4936, cbonfiglio@charlottenc.gov

At 11:16 p.m. Wednesday night a member of the City Council received a copy of a bill that is purported to be a new airport “compromise” bill.

Although the new bill (SB 380) has been pulled today it was not the product of negotiations with the City.  It is also not the product of discussions that were mediated by the Governor’s Office earlier this week. And, we are told that it is not a proposal from the Governor.
Attempts at drafting new legislation once again demonstrated a unilateral attempt to take control of the airport away from the City.
The new bill did reflect concessions made to the City but only in appointments, issuance of bonds and eminent domain.

At its core, however, the new bill removed the City from all airport operations and oversight of the following:

  • Operating budget
  • Capital budget
  • All finances 
  • Contracting
  • Airport operations
  • Purchase of land
  • Selection of Executive Director

The City’s preliminary review was that legal and technical issues are significant and could create substantial confusion over airport operations.

The emergence of the new bill is confirmation that the bill passed last week by the General Assembly is fatally flawed.  The new bill was faced with similar challenges. The bill was a cobbled together mishmash of municipal laws and lacks any technical review of airport financial or operational matters.

The General Assembly is at this late stage essentially gambling with one the state’s most critical public assets and economic engines. Last minute drafts of legislation will inevitably raise many legal questions that will cause confusion and instability at the airport – all of which is totally unnecessary and without purpose.

The City urges the General Assembly to repeal the airport authority bill that it passed last week and let the City thoughtfully and rationally focus on the business of the airport.