A valuable resource
September 14, 2010
Thank you for your editorial regarding the proposed ordinance. I attended the town hall debate and was struck by the fact that both sides want to preserve the small rural nature of Minden-Tahoe Airport, keeping it a community airport that supports firefighting, emergency services, flight training and world class soaring. I don’t hear anyone calling for large growth, nor do I see any economic demand for such growth. On the other hand I don’t hear anyone calling for our airport to be closed. So where is the dispute?
I will not suggest this ordinance is perfect. I will point out that the drafting process was the most public I have ever seen, with dozens of public meetings and other opportunities for participation from voters all over the county. Perhaps the ordinance could have been improved if the five most vocal critics (three of whom sat on the con side of the debate) had involved themselves during the drafting stage, but we will never know that. What we do know is that the airport is a valuable resource that needs to be maintained and the longer we delay approval of an ordinance that puts us in compliance with FAA requirements the longer we will be denied FAA funds to undertake that maintenance.
As for voter approval of each expenditure, we hire an airport manager to act in the interests of the county. Our experience to date with managers has been good: the airport is financially self-supporting (rare for small U.S. airport) and activities there actually pay into the county tax base. The FAA grant assurances mandate maintenance for the remaining useful life of the item(s) funded up to 20 years. The airport has leaseholders with agreements running longer than that (some as long as 45 years) who would surely sue if the airport did not offer adequate services for the term of their lease. The county’s obligation is thus greater to private leaseholders than to the FAA and no one seems to object to that obligation.
My take on this proposed ordinance is that it benefits Douglas County voters and taxpayers. It is not above fair criticism but it is timely and we as taxpayers benefit by approving it now rather than delay until the next election two years away, when the airport will be suffering maintenance issues and will need to ask the county for funds. The FAA would have funded the solutions to these problems had we approved this ballot initiative.
Our Minden-Tahoe Airport, is, has been, and will continue to be a distinct asset to the community if improvements are continued in the proper manner, with the approval of the community, and under the auspices of the new Airport Use Ordinance. Lets improve on this asset as we see fit for the future as Minden becomes a world renowned sports aviation destination.
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Please join me in voting “yes” on proposition One.
Linda Mae Draper Hivert