The Woodward News

Local News

August 20, 2012

City issues response to FAA report

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward City Attorney Aaron Sims has sent a reply to the the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding a recent compliance inspection report that alleged the city improperly handled airport property.

The allegations in the FAA report included that the city "inappropriately transferred title to airport land to the [Woodward] municipal authority," and received proceeds from leasing that land, which should have gone to support airport operations.  The report also alleges that the lease amounts do not "bear any relation to fair market value based on appraisal."

"The City is offended by the unsubstantiated allegation that the City illegally leased the subject properties at less than fair market value," Sims wrote in the letter to FAA officials.

The attorney read the letter in its entirety to Woodward City Commissioners during their regular meeting Monday night in City Hall.  He stated the letter had already been mailed earlier in the day.

Click below to watch a video of Sims reading the letter and then responding to a few questions from City Commissioner Steve Bogdahn.

The letter was addressed to Mr. Edward Agnew, manager of the Arkansas/ Oklahoma Airports District Office with the FAA.  But additional copies were mailed to Edward Chambers, the compliance program manager who conducted the inspection; Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission; Michael P. Huerta, acting administrator for the FAA; and U.S. Sen. James Inhofe.

Sims claims that the inspector provided no support for the allegation that the city was leasing property at below market value, having never requested any appraisal information concerning the determination of fair market value.

In addition, he stated that in determining that market value, only the value of the land itself, minus any buildings or other improvements, could be considered since only the land itself was released by the FAA to the city.

Considering that factor along with the city's subsidization of airport operations to the tune of $800,000 in the last decade, Sims said city records show that the airport has received far more in revenue than whatever proceeds have been generated by the leasing of the airport property.

"It is clear, historically, that the City's general fund has provided the funds to pay the cost of airport operations in an amount far in excess of the fair market rental value of the released Airport properties," he said.

Nevertheless, the attorney said the city would revise some of its accounting procedures to clarify that the airport does receive revenue generated from leasing any airport land.

"To address the recommended action from the Inspector's report, the City, as a function of accounting, will assign all future rental income from the land alone to the airport fund portion of the City's accounting system," he said.

In addition, he said all future leases for airport land will clearly reflect what portion of the rental amount is attributable to the land alone.

But the city doesn't intend to act on another recommendation in the FAA report, which told the city to "return" title to the airport properties in question back to the airport.

That's because the city attorney refutes the allegations that the city "inappropriately" transferred the titles to begin with.

Sims said that the Woodward Municipal Authority (WMA) "is an appropriate entity in which title to these properties may be held."

That is because the WMA was set up as a public trust, and therefore, by statute, is allowed to hold title to real estate, he said.  And since the WMA was created for the benefit for the city, it may act on behalf of the city, including holding title for land owned by the city, which includes the airport, he said.

"Therefore, the City asserts that no change in title of the airport properties is warranted and that title is now, and has always been, held by an appropriate entity," Sims said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Commissioners to act on agreements

    Lawn care will be the focus of action at the Woodward City Commission meeting Monday, April 21 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

    April 20, 2014

  • Disaster assistance charity organizing

    The 2012 Woodward tornado did more than just destroy a significant part of Woodward, in an ironic way it helped create a springboard for some who recognized a need for a different kind of disaster assistance.

    April 20, 2014

  • Area school calendars

    School activities for April 21-26

    April 20, 2014

  • Several blood drives coming up

    Local blood donors will have a number of opportunities in the coming weeks to make a life saving donation of blood.

    April 20, 2014

  • Free Financial Fitness Kits available from OSCPA

    April is National Financial Capability Month and the Oklahoma Jump$tart Coalition is observing it's 10th annual Jump$tart Your Money Week, April 20-26.

    April 20, 2014

  • Filing period set for conservation boards

    Woodward County agricultural producer Jerry Hunter is mainly a cattleman.

    April 18, 2014

  • Policy amendment on county agenda

    County Commissioners will approve a new amendment to the Woodward County Employees Personnel Policy Book Monday at the regularly scheduled meeting.

    April 18, 2014

  • Easter services

    A roundup of Easter programs being held by local churches.

    April 17, 2014

  • Western Plains recognized as Certified Healthy Business

    Western Plains Youth and Family Services in Woodward is one of the organizations selected by the Certified Healthy Oklahoma program as a Certified Healthy Business.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sod House Museum hosting program

    Dr. Eric J. Schmaltz, associate history professor at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, will be at the Sod House Museum Saturday, April 26 to present an overview and presentation on “Germans from Russia in South America: New Research Frontiers."

    April 17, 2014