Griffin Mayor Dick Morrow is a major proponent of annexation. He said one reason the city wants to annex the airport if it is moved is that the city wishes to continue its partnership with the county. The second reason is that the current airport is within city limits and if the airport is moved outside city limits, the city loses the tax revenue it derives from the site.
Morrow also said the city taxpayers funded part of the airport relocation study and they should benefit from that.
“Our fiduciary responsibility is to see that the taxpayers get a return on that money,” he said.
He tied that in with his earlier comment about how annexation would bring additional tax monies into the city.
Morrow also said the city leases land to the businesses operating at the airport. If the city annexes the airport, it would make transfer and city protection of these leases easier.
He also pointed out that if the new airport is a joint city-county project, it would enable the local match required to build it to be split between the two entities rather than one entity bearing the burden alone.
“The bottom line is, if the new airport is annexed, both the city and the county benefit,” he said.
Spalding County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairwoman Gwen Flowers-Taylor spoke in defense of annexation at a recent joint meeting to discuss the airport. She said the increased revenue from more aircraft at an enlarged airport would enable the county to keep property taxes low.
Spalding County Board of Commissioners member Bob Gilreath has qualms about the operations of the proposed airport.
“I have never publicly stated I oppose annexing the airport, should it become a reality,” he said in an e-mail interview. “What I do oppose is the airport being operated by the city of Griffin or the possibility of an airport authority.”
He said for 30 years, the city government has mishandled its control of the airport. He is not aware of the amount city taxpayers pay to subsidize its operations, but he said the county pays $200,000 per year to subsidize it. He said when the times comes, just who should operate the airport should be studied.
He also said presentations on relocating the airport have been one-sided.
“Those presenting their views of how great a new airport would be for Spalding County never once told the rest of the story,” he said.
He said the potential cost to taxpayers, how many people would lose their homes and what would become of the present airport property had not been addressed.