Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Airport is key topic at council meeting: Independence Municipal (KIIB), Iowa

Jonathan Walter, Independence Municipal Airport Manager, fielded questions from the City Council regarding his monthly update and on-going projects.

INDEPENDENCE – The Independence Municipal Airport was a key topic at the February 9 Independence City Council meeting.

While discussing the approval of bills, Council Member Denny Vaughn questioned a $6,639 charge from Bolton & Menk, an engineering firm. After calling upon Jonathan Walter, Manager of the Airport, and other Council and staff members, it was determined that the bill was work needing completion of an airport project initiated by former airport engineering consultants Synder & Associates. Vaughn raised concerns about the amount of the bill and if the project was completed. City Manager Al Roder tried to assuage the concerns saying, the FAA deemed the work completed and they approved the bill. As the project was funded 90 – 95 percent by the FAA through jet fuel tax, and the payment to Bolton & Menk would create the appropriate paper trail for the City to be reimbursed by the FAA, the Council approved the bill.

Walter then made himself available to answer questions about his monthly report on airport projects. In his written report, Walter announced that, “plans are in progress to develop land lease packages for private aircraft hangars on the airport property. These lease options will allow a private entity to lease land from the city and build a private hangar for aircraft storage. This option will

make use of the extra land purchase required during the runway expansion project, and allow private funds to add facilities to our airport. This will generate new growth on the airport, to include more aircraft based at Independence.”

The lease agreements are subject to FAA and City Council approval.

Walter’s report also stated all hangar space is being utilized and there continues to be a waiting list of renters.

Council Members Vaughn and Lenius questioned Walter about a situation with a renter complaining about not getting hangar space. Walter said the renter did not respond in time to sign up. Walter added that the issue was between the renter and Walter Aviation, not the City. Council Member Bob Hill reminded the Council that the Airport Manager position is not a City job, but rather a contracted position, a.k.a. Fixed Base Operator (FBO). While the FBO works closely with the City, he is still an independent businessman, managing the airport’s assets and providing 24-hour service.

In other Council business:

- During Public Comments, new Chamber of Commerce Director Alissa Westphal introduced herself to the Council.

- Section 3.21 of the Zoning Code of Ordinances pertaining to Home Occupation was repealed. This will help reduce inconsistencies in the forms and regulations need to run a business from a residence.

- Set Monday, Feb. 23 as a Public Hearing to discuss the FY2016 budget.

- Set Monday, March 9 for a Public Hearing to discuss proposed plans, specifications and bids for the Municipal Building project. The new building is currently proposed to house the Police Department, City administration and a Council chamber.

- Set Monday, March 9 for a Public Hearing to discuss the Urban Renewal Area and Plan.

- Entered a closed session to consider purchasing the former high school property located on 5th Ave SE. Upon reentry to the open session the council passed a motion to pursue the purchase.

- Entered a closed session to discuss the City Manager’s job performance. When in open session, during Staff Comments, City Manager Al Roder thanked the Council for what appeared to be a positive review.

The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23 at City Hall.

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