The Woodward News

Local News

August 4, 2012

Executive session set at city meeting

Woodward, Okla. — Just as City Manager Alan Riffel said they would, Woodward City Commissioners are slated to meet in an executive session Monday to receive legal advice about issues involving the West Woodward Airport.

The regular city commission meeting will start at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall.

While the agenda packet doesn't include any background on what has prompted the executive session, Riffel told The News on July 30 that the commissioners would be getting advice from the city attorney regarding a recent inspection report that was released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

According to that FAA report, the city is accused of having "inappropriately transferred title to airport land to the municipal authority for industrial development purposes."

Essentially the report states that the Woodward Municipal Authority has been assuming revenue from the lease and/or sale of parcels from 135 acres of land on the east side of the airport.  The report claims that the revenue from the lease and/or sale of those parcels should have instead gone to the West Woodward Airport to help cover operational costs there.

However, city officials have questioned the report's allegations of wrongdoings, especially as Riffel claimed the issue has not come up as part of previous annual inspections at the airport.

But the report does more than allege inappropriate actions on behalf of the city.  The FAA report also sets out a list of "Required corrective actions" to right the alleged wrongs discovered in the inspection, including to return title to the airport for the property  leased out by the city.

However, on Monday the city commissioners are not slated to take any other action regarding the FAA report other than to meet with legal counsel in an executive session.

Ironically, though, the commissioners are slated to consider bids for an taxilane rehabilitation project at the airport, which would utilize FAA Airport Improvement Plan (AIP) grant funds to pay for the project.

The recent inspection report states that unless the city takes the corrective actions that it has recommended, "the city could be found in pending non-compliance with their grant assurances and (become) ineligible for future AIP grants."

In a previous interview, Riffel told The News that the city has received AIP funds for several years and that the removal of access to those funds "would have a significant impact on what can be provided for airport improvements through that funding stream."

But as the FAA report only addresses "future AIP grants," Assistant City Manager Doug Haines said he expects city commissioners to move forward with the current proposed taxilane improvement project.

As for the bids that are on the agenda for Monday's meeting, Haines said, "I anticipate that will be approved" since the city would only have to pay for a small portion of the project costs.

According to information in the agenda packet, the project involves a 90/10 grant from the FAA, meaning that the city is only responsible for covering 10 percent of the project costs, with the other 90 percent to be paid for with AIP funds.

Although only one bid was received for the project, the consulting firm Lochner has recommended the city go ahead and "award a contract to JLT Corporation in the amount of $783,139.61," according to a letter included in the agenda packet.

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