PARIS, IL. (ECWd) -
During the Edgar County Board Meeting this morning, the board heard public comments as required by the Open Meetings Act.
One of the commenters was a local attorney who stated he was representing "several individuals" who desired to bid on leasing the main airport hangar at the airport.
They are asking the board to place the lease out to bid.
He used the General County Airport and Landing Field Act for justification as to why they believed the county was required to bid the lease out to the highest bidder.
The problem with their opinion, in our opinion, is that the statute does not require placing it our for bidding.
62 ILCS 40/6 is the statute he referenced, the General County Airport and Landing Field Act, Section 6, which has not changed since 1941.
The county board of every county has the power (1) to lease all or any part of such an airport, landing field, facilities, and other structures, and fix and collect rentals therefor, (2) to fix, charge, and collect rentals, tolls, fees, and charges to be paid for the use of the whole or any part of such an airport or landing field, buildings, or other facilities, (3) to make contracts for the operation and management of such an airport, landing field, or other air navigation facilities, and (4) to provide for the use, management, and operation of such an airport, landing field, or air navigation facilities through lessees thereof, or through its own employees, or otherwise. However, no lease for the operation or management of such an airport, landing field, or air navigation facilities shall be made for more than one year except to the highest and best bidder, after notice of the lease or contract has been given by at least one publication, made at least one week before the date of the lease or contract, in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county.
(Source: Laws 1941, vol. 1, p. 463
The underlined part is what they were referring to, but fail to realize that the lease in question was not for "operation or management" of an airport, landing field, or air navigation facility. It is for the "use" of the main hangar.
Clearly, the only provision requiring bidding is for the "operation and management", and then only of the contract is for more than one year. "Operation and management", if not provided by the airport owner, the county in this case, would generally be bid out to a "Fixed Base Operator", or "FBO", who would assume operational control and management control of the airport and its operations. Edgar County has not gone this route and maintains its own control and management of the airport.
County Board Member Mike Heltsley should come out against this push and write another letter to the editor, as it places a "hardship" on the county, causes "utterly useless spending" and is designed to "scale back public services" and "bring down the airport"... just kidding, we have no expectation Heltsley would hold his "good ole boys" to the same standard he holds everyone else, after all, that's how "good ole boy" systems operate.
The board decided to table the vote for another date.
Please consider a donation to The Edgar County Watchdogs.