Saturday, November 26, 2016

Victoria Regional Airport charter needs to be updated

By the Advocate Editorial Board

Change is difficult, but in most cases it is essential to the growth of a company.

Recently, the Victoria County commissioners met with the Victoria County Airport Commission to begin discussing updating the commission's 1952 charter and discussing airport management.

A key point they are looking at is whether the airport management should report to the airport commission or the commissioners court.

Since 1952, the manager has reported to both entities, which at times has caused confusion.

The court needs to allow the airport commission to manage and operate the airport.

The airport commission should answer to the court.

The commission is made up of members who have extensive background in aviation. That experience is important in making decisions that affect the airport.

County officials admit that experience is not being utilized to benefit the county.

Now is the opportunity for that to change.

The airport commission could use its vast knowledge to work to improve the viability of the regional airport, working to have reliable air service that has flights that meet the customers needs and to keep the private pilots in mind as changes are made.

Businesses looking to locate in the Crossroads look at the airport as one of its measurements of the community.

A well-managed, self-sustaining airport with useable air service is key to keeping the economy and community growing.

At least one county commissioner has expressed an interest in keeping the setup the way it is.

We suggest before the county sets its sights on staying the same, it needs to look at Citizens Medical Center.

For decades, the county- owned hospital has operated with a CEO who answers to a board. The board, which is versed in the health care industry, makes recommendations to the county, which ratifies the action.

The system appears to work well as the hospital has been a successful operation for many decades.

Members of the commissioners court are non-voting members of the hospital board, and the court is represented at its meetings.

If the airport were allowed to have such a setup, it would have the opportunity to grow, too, as long as the right management team were in place to operate the airport and make needed improvements.

The commissioners court and airport commission are right to look at other airport management companies to make sure the best possible company or professional is hired for the job.

Allowing Prautes Corp., the consulting firm that manages the Victoria Regional Airport, to bid on the new contract is also the right thing to do, but it doesn't mean the commission should automatically give Prautes the contract.

The commission has to select the business that will do the best job making the airport a viable business for the county.

The county and the airport commission say there is no timeline for changing the charter. As with any business goal, a timeline is important so the needed change does not get swept under the rug and forgotten.

The decision should also not be something that is hastily done without studying what is best for the county and the airport.

In the end, we believe both entities will see changing the charter to allow the airport management to answer to the airport commission is the right path to take.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.


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