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Airport misstatements

EDITOR:

Denunciations of airport ordinance opponents by supporters are so fierce they seem reason enough to vote “no” on the airport ballot question, let alone enough inaccuracies to fill a book. The Chamber of Commerce just chimed in with a sales pitch that weakening voter control will somehow strengthen it. Here’s a short-list of some of the fear-mongering, misstatements, and omissions promoting the ballot question.

A discredited threat that if we vote no we’re obliged to repay $19 million to the Federal Aviation Administration. Total fiction invented by county management to cow voters into turning over the airport’s future to the FAA. Even a lawyer who helped draft the ordinance admits that has no legal basis.



The county and district attorney even implied on our sample ballot under “Fiscal Note” that the FAA could require pay back of $16.6 million received for Airport projects if the airport question is approved. Nothing but fear-mongering.

The ballot question artfully omits that every grant the FAA gives to build something contains a clause leaving all county taxpayers on the hook to maintain it for its useful life (up to 20 years). Commissioners don’t tell us they hooked us until after they spent the money. Shame on them.



Fortunately the useful life of most of what is already built has already expired. County staff doesn’t publicize that they plan to hook us to guarantee $12 million more spending in the next five years. Airport users love getting something for nothing. That’s why their denunciations are so fierce.

The FAA currently withholds grants because the county’s own pavement weight-bearing studies violated FAA standards and misled the FAA into a false conclusion that the current 50,000 pound weight limit was incorrect. If the ballot question is approved voters lose all control over the size of aircraft using our airport.

One wrote that heavy taxiway and ramp damage isn’t caused by heavy jets flying over my house, but by Nevada’s thaw-freeze cycle. Yet in one county commission meeting an airport manager explained in great detail how cost of pavement repair relates directly to pounds of overweight aircraft. Repair cost increased from nominal in the 1990s to a million dollars a year now. Did the weather change?

One writer claimed 150 airport jobs will be lost if we don’t pass the ordinance. The county says there are 130 jobs. They won’t be affected if we vote “no.” Outrageous fear-mongering.

Some ridicule an explosion of future jet operations on grounds it isn’t here already. Great thinking. But news to the company leasing 87 acres on the airport’s southwest corner actively marketing luxury hangar-suites for Minden-Tahoe Airport.

The chamber said jets make less noise than small propeller planes. Maybe, but smaller planes don’t make landing runs over the towns and Ranchos. Corporate jets do.

Ordinance language intended to restrict new infrastructure actually concedes such control to the FAA and private interests. We need weight limits. Accurate ones. Vote “no.”

Jack Van Dien

Minden