At Thursday's council meeting, an item to lease the Payson Municipal Airport to an Airport Authority was tabled until the May 3 meeting.
We aren't quite sure why the item was not discussed Thursday or what will happen to the proposed lease between now and May 3, but after reading through the document, we believe that the decision to create an Airport Authority and to lease the airport to said Authority is a sound idea.
Approving a lease for the airport will change the management structure, but will not take the Town of Payson completely out of the airport business.
According to page 8 of the current lease draft, "The Town, as owner of the Airport, has an ongoing interest in proper performance of management and administration activities at the Airport. In furtherance thereof, Lessee agrees to consult with the Town's designated representatives on matters of planning, policy development and administration and shall provide such periodic activity reports as may be requested by the Town."
The lease and the concept of an Airport Authority are modeled after the success in Sedona.
At the beginning of March, the Mayor's Airport Task Force proposed the creation of the Payson Regional Airport Authority.
The Authority will be designated as a nonprofit agency put in charge of managing the airport.
It will be led by a panel of five to seven unpaid directors -- the makeup of which has yet to be determined.
The Authority would have the responsibility of creating a master plan that sets long-range goals for the airport; one of those goals would be to make the airport self-supporting. The Authority will focus on revenue that can be generated by the airport and by leasing out town-owned land along Airport Road.
From looking at the success in Sedona and other small general aviation airports, we believe the airport will be run more efficiently under an Airport Authority.
The creation of an Airport Authority will save taxpayers money, will take some of the controversy away from the airport by working to make it self-sufficient and, we hope, will open the airport to increased citizen input. Residents and pilots will be able to bring concerns before the Authority board and all board meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Law.
On May 3, when the Airport Lease Agreement comes before the council again, we encourage the council to move the airport in this direction.
Download the current draft of the airport lease (PDF - 84 MB)