Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Price County Airport Expansion Project Moves Ahead

PHILLIPS - The Price County Airport expansion project has drawn a lot of attention lately as opponents gathered petitions and drafted resolutions to stop this project from taking off.

But Tuesday, the Price County Board voted down those roadblocks.

The Price County Airport expansion has a long debated history that was evident Tuesday, Chairman Bob Kopisch says, "The board voted in February of 2011 to proceed with the project. We had a 12-0 vote."

Kopisch explains that the three resolutions looking to block that project have also been voted down despite some public protest.

After hearing comments from both sides of the issue, the full county board took the 7-5 vote to shutdown the opposing resolutions, but not everyone is convinced.

Attorney for the opposition, Peter McKeever says, "Let's use the dollars where it's most effective. Simply, you've got here a project that simply isn't justified."

Despite the public outcry, there were also supporters of the airport's expansion, like Park Falls Mayor Tom Ratzlaff, "The current project would require a very small local monetary contribution that will have very positive impact on the airport's ability to service present, future business, industry and recreational users."

But still, Tom Kiesgen says, "Say no to the expansion."

George Martin counters, "To me that "no" signs mean no progress to Price County and I don't think that anybody in this room wants that."

A major issue in the debate was tax dollars and where the funding would come from.

McKeever says, "This project would not pass your basic cost, benefit analysis."

Supporters like Carol McLaughlin say the funds aren't a problem at all, "I don't know where people ever got that idea. Because 95% of the funding for this project comes from the airport fund."

For now the project moves forward.

Kopisch says, "Well the project actually continues. It's just that the issues that were brought up are now referred to the airport committee for further review."

According to Kopisch taxpayers will fund 2 1/2% of the $5 million pricetag anticipated on this project.

Kopisch says those who oppose expansion can still submit petitions and requests to cancel the project to the Price County Airport Committee for review.

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