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Keeping Airport Oversight Power

No doubt members of the Jefferson County Airport Authority are merely trying to make administration of the facility more efficient. But sometimes, a little red tape serves taxpayers well, and that may be the situation now.

Last week, Jefferson County commissioners heard a request from the authority to allow it more independence. Commissioners were asked to allow the president of the authority to “submit applications for funding and execute the grant contracts and any related documents … to simplify and streamline the process.” In addition, authority members asked for permission in some cases to “act on behalf of commissioners.”

All three commissioners shot that one out of the sky in short order.

“Historically, it’s always been done through the commissioners’ office and the commission has signed off,” noted Commissioner Tom Graham.

Involving commissioners in airport affairs “keeps us and the public in the loop on everything that’s going on,” chimed in Commissioner Tom Gentile.

“I think I’d need to see an argument on how they’re missing opportunities because of a slight administrative delay,” agreed Commissioner Dave Maple. He added that giving more authority to the airport group “would circumvent … those of us who have been elected.”

That about sums it up.

Don’t get us wrong: No doubt airport authority members made their request with the best of intentions. But, again, those now serving will not be there forever. No one can say a future airport authority will be composed of people who can be trusted to make good decisions.

Commissioners are absolutely right in maintaining oversight over the airport. While they may be able to find ways to streamline the process, keeping the reins in their hands is good policy.

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