Councilors got a first look at the ordinance resurrecting the controversial Airport Advisory Committee at Thursday's meeting of the Payson town council.
In January, the town council narrowly approved bringing back the committee, formerly called the Airport Advisory Board, because of its problematic history. Councilor Bryan Siverson, who voted to bring back the board, was absent from Thursday's meeting.
The council originally abolished the board in 2001 because of perceived management conflicts with airport manager Ted Anderson.
"What I saw was the airport board trying to micromanage the airport and the airport manager," Councilor Dick Wolfe said.
"Nothing positive came out of those meetings and they just tied up the manager's time," Councilor Dick Wolfe said.
"The flying community wants to have total control of the airport and do what they want instead of what's right for the whole town," Vice Mayor Barbara Brewer told the Roundup.
Curbs on the committee
Thursday, the council looked at the first draft of the ordinance that included some restrictions to avoid problems of the prior board, including a limitation on the number of pilots on the committee to 45 percent and a sunset clause, which terminates the committee in one year unless the council votes to extend it.
Town manager Fred Carpenter said that Bob Oswald, who wrote a letter on behalf of the Payson Pilots Association, disagreed with limiting the number of pilots on the committee and the sunset clause.
"What the sunset clause does is that it forces the council to look at what the committee has done over that period of time," Wolfe said, "to see if they have met their mandate, caused problems or solved problems."
"I have no problem with that," Councilor Judy Buettner said. "It's probably a good idea for all the boards and commissions."
"I don't think we should single out this particular committee for this clause," Councilor Robert Henley said. "If we are going to do it, let's do it for all the boards and committees."
"And department managers," Mayor Ken Murphy chimed in.
"And council members," Buettner said.
Murphy agreed the airport committee was being singled out.
"It's not brain surgery to put it on the agenda if there is a problem within a committee," Murphy said. "The sunset clause is only suggested because it is the airport advisory committee."
"I prefer the termination in 12 months," Councilor Dick Reese said. "There has been so much controversy and history in this thing. It's OK to build in some discipline in this process."
Anderson, Wolfe, Buettner, and Brewer said they felt limiting the number of pilots would prevent some of the problems from the last board.
"The airport is also a business and an economic driver for the town," Brewer said. "We represent the whole town."
"We should have some pilot representation to explain technical issues," Anderson said. "I thought it would be appropriate to get business people involved and more community representation."
"Obviously, the point is, God forbid, we stack this committee with more pilots," Murphy said. "It's only an airport advisory committee."
Brewer suggested lowering the percentage of pilots serving on the committee to 33 percent.
"How do you get 33 percent on a seven member board?" Murphy asked.
Carpenter explained that 45 percent amounted to three pilots on a seven-member committee and the percentage was useful in case the committee expanded or contracted in number.
The rest of the council did not contest the 45 percent.
To vote or not to vote?
Henley asked town attorney Sam Streichman how the council should go about giving him direction on changes to the ordinance.
"Where there is disagreement, then a vote would be in order," Streichman said.
"We are going to have a split vote, so we could leave the 45 percent as is until we have seven members," Murphy said.
Murphy asked if there were any other comments.
"Let's close the public hearing and move on," he said.
"What do I do?" Streichman asked, requesting some direction from the council.
"We are not going to agree on this other than the recommendations you already have," Murphy said.
"I think there is agreement," Buettner said.
"There may be some," Murphy said.
"I think there is," Buettner repeated.
"Maybe we could pick some of those issues off and see if we can agree," Henley said.
Reese was halfway through asking for more discussion, when Murphy slammed his gavel and abruptly ended discussion.
"We are moving on to the next item, so if you want to do that you can give your recommendations to the town attorney at a later date," Murphy said. "OK -- we are moving on. Let's take a break first."
As Murphy walked away, Buettner said she wasn't done discussing the issue.
Streichman said she could revisit the issue after the break.
As the meeting resumed, Murphy announced the next agenda item.
"Mr. Mayor," Buettner said. "I think your assumption was that we were split three to three and I feel we could go ahead with a vote. I was trying to get a word in."
Murphy looked over at Streichman.
"I think we could go back," Streichman said.
"I kind of run the meeting here, so if you want to make a motion," Murphy said.
"OK," Buettner said. "I will make a motion."
The council approved the sunset clause 4-2, Henley and Murphy dissenting. The 45-percent limit on active pilots who could serve on the committee was unanimously approved.
A revised ordinance will come before the council for possible action at their March 11 meeting.