Thursday, July 04, 2013

Commission chairman sees no need to hold airport meeting

BROOKSVILLE - Now that Clearwater-based Corporate Jet Solutions has inked a 10-year contract to lease a vacant building at the airport, County Commission Chairman Dave Russell sees no need for a formal discussion about how it all came about.

"I don't see any reason to revisit it," Russell said.

Corporate Jet Solutions will lease the old Brooksville Air Center at 15421 Technology Drive for $120,000 the first year. Lease payments will increase with succeeding years.

The facility includes an expansive airplane hangar and administrative building, encompassing some 25,000 square feet, both with easy access to the runway.

Events leading up to Wednesday's contract proved controversial when the owner of American Aviation, which - until now - was the airport's sole fixed-base operator, questioned the negotiation process.

County Commissioner Diane Rowden also expressed concerns about how the Aviation Authority handled the negotiations and asked colleagues to carve out time during last week's meeting to discuss protocol and procedure between the county and that advisory group.

Commissioners last week voted 3-2 to remove and table an agenda item placed there by Rowden.

Commissioners agreed to pull the item for future discussion after Commissioner Jim Adkins cautioned the board not to discuss it while the county was negotiating a lease with Creative Jet Solutions.

Rowden said she didn't understand why there seem to be paranoia against discussion of protocol between the aviation authority and the county and suggested there has been "arm-twisting" done to some of her colleagues.

Russell said Wednesday the Aviation Authority has been in existence some 30 years and there has never been a problem figuring out its role. Its function is to advise the county and make recommendations that the commissioners are free to agree with or reject, he said.

To further bandy this about in a public meeting makes no sense, he said.

"There haven't been any protocols breached," Russell said. "The Aviation Authority acted in good faith and as prescribed so I just don't see the problem. I don't see the need."

County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, who sided with Rowden last week to hold a discussion, said Wednesday he is happy the lease was signed.

"They signed the contract, it's over, it's a done deal," Nicholson said.

County Administrator Len Sossamon said the county will benefit through fuel sales, increased marketing at the airport and by the creation of more jobs.

The company plans to add 40-50 jobs in the next two years, Sossamon said.

Corporate Jet also did not ask for any incentives, which saved the county money, he said.


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