County Manager William Wilson Jr. said city and county staff met last week to come up with possible funding options for the relocation of the airport. Wilson said he and City Manager Kenny Smith were going to approach their respective commissions to see if there are “any major objections to creating a joint city-county airport authority.”
Wilson said, “if no major resistance” developed, the authority could issue bonds against the estimated revenue of proposed transportation sales tax to start on the building of the new airport.
Two Spalding County Board of Commissioners members, Eddie Freeman and Raymond Ray, said they were in favor of it.
“It puts the city and county on an even keel,” Freeman said.
“It gets the politics out of the operations,” Ray said.
Two commissioners had major objections. Commissioner Bob Gilreath said “all authorities should be abolished,” claiming the authorities leave the county with “no control and no say-so. An advisory board would be better.”
Commissioner Gwen Flowers-Taylor said, “I think authorities have their place in government, but I have trouble with this. There are issues of annexation, taxation and any funds that come through there will not come through the general fund.”
Wilson said the local legislation would have to be created and sent to the legislative delegation. The earliest it could be done is next year, he said.
“It’s a lengthy process and would require several joint meetings between the city and county commissions,” Wilson said.
He noted the city and county will have to come up with significant amounts of money up front to get the airport built. He said “a new authority would have great bonding capacity,” where as the city and county don’t have as much with current and planned projects including the city’s water projects.
Flowers-Taylor said the bigger issue for her is still annexation and asked, “Are we willing to do that?”
She said, “I’m not good with an airport authority. I think the (airport) advisory board should do their thing.”