If past is truly prologue, vigilant Payson citizens should carefully examine the drastic change in management that is about to take place at Payson airport.
Will this change someday return the airport to the days of inefficient management, high costs and subsidies from the town general fund? Since 2007, the Payson airport has been quietly and competently managed by the all-volunteer Payson Regional Airport Authority (PRAA) Board. Easily-seen highlights of the PRAA’s successful four-year run include: A clean, well-maintained airport that makes a good first impression to visitors; a community-friendly airport where noise complaints have become a rarity.
Less apparent, but perhaps even more noteFrom page 4A
worthy is the fact that — since the PRAA assumed airport management — the town of Payson general fund has contributed zero dollars toward the cost of daily airport operations. (Large projects — termed “capital improvements” — are budgeted separately.) Longtime observers of Payson airport will recall that in the pre-PRAA days, this level of “airport self-sufficiency” was incessantly sought-after yet never achieved. In those years prior to 2007, the town’s general fund contributed at least $60,000 annually toward airport operations, with that number ready to explode under the old airport management plan to increase the airport staff to five town employees. Those were truly bleak days.
Fortunately, better days were to come. Upon creation of the PRAA in 2007, the $60,000 general fund airport subsidy was immediately eliminated, along with the pending threat of the increased cost of more airport staff.
How did the PRAA do it? Good, old-fashioned cost reduction and elimination of waste. In other words, good management. Too good to last?
Forward now four years to the PRAA July 5, 2011 public meeting. The PRAA board nearly voted to approve an amendment to its town lease that would dissolve the PRAA and end its existence. Management of the airport would revert to the town, as it had been prior to 2007. That is, a return to the airport management model that brought us never-ending general fund subsidies for daily airport operations, wasteful spending, and exploding management and staffing costs.
Will the current town government make the same mistakes as those of years past? Perhaps not. But how can a concerned Payson taxpayer know that a future town government won’t make the same blunders?
One might ask: Given all of its success, why would the PRAA want to end its own existence? Such questions were asked by a group of concerned airport users attending that PRAA July meeting.
To its credit, the PRAA postponed the dissolution amendment vote, allowing a group of a dozen airport-user citizens to assemble to consider the issues that were vexing the PRAA. The group — of which I was a member — met weekly for three months, then presented our
solutions to the PRAA board.
But it was all for naught. At its Oct. 19 meeting, the PRAA board unanimously voted approval of the lease amendment that dissolves the PRAA. One final step remains: a vote of town council — which could occur as soon as Nov. 17 — to approve the amendment. If approved, past will indeed have become prologue and the PRAA — despite its four years of successful management of Payson airport — will pass into history.
Interested citizens may read the airport citizens’ recommendations at http://PAN post.homestead.com.