Could the recent tension between Council members and Mayor Greg York impact plans for a city takeover of the airport?
The controversy became a topic of discussion for members of the New Castle Board of Aviation Commissioners Monday.
When asked by BoAC member Don Cummings if the spat could ultimately impact the city’s vision for the airport, Corey Murphy, the BoAC president, said simply “It could.”
“It is an agenda item for Monday’s City Council meeting,” Murphy said. “There is a joint resolution. It’s the first official step in the process to transfer the ownership.”
“I don’t think there will be an issue,” Murphy said. “We want to be respectful to both fiscal bodies. As it relates to the airport, the city has had a dedicated tax rate for the airport. The commission is looking forward to a discussion with both bodies.”
For the past few weeks, City Council President Rex Peckinpaugh and others have challenged the mayor over the handling of funds.
Council recently passed an ordinance calling for Clerk-treasurer Brenda Grider to begin the process of placing the non-reverting funds into separate accounts. That money had been sitting in the same cash balance as the city’s beleaguered health fund to help pay claims.
BoAC member Keith Pritchett expressed frustration about the manner in which some City Council members have gone after the mayor.
“It’s pretty frustrating for people to say that kind of stuff and it gets in the paper,” Pritchett said. “It hurts everybody. It hurts the whole community.”
Pritchett’s company has done contract work for the city in the past.
“I think it will be a non-issue shortly,” Pritchett added. “I think state auditors come through here shortly.”
Pritchett said he thought it would be “nice” for the entire Board of Aviation Commissioners to be in attendance at Monday’s meeting.
The resolution requiring Council action “authorizes the withdrawal of Henry County from the New Castle/Henry County Board of Aviation.”
It would be an historic change. The city and county formed a Joint Board of Aviation Commissioners for the purpose of developing and operating an airport on June 29, 1964.
Currently, the city contributes far more in tax dollars than the county. The change has been long advocated by Mayor Greg York and others, who want to see the airport grow with new hangars and eventual expansion of the runway to 5,000 feet.