COVER: An aircraft is silhouetted by the setting sun at San Marcos Regional Airport. SUBMITTED PHOTO
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Facing calls from within to either disband or restructure the San Marcos Airport Commission, city council members took the first step Tuesday toward stripping the appointed body of most of its traditionally broad purview.
During their regular meeting on Aug. 18, Mayor Daniel Guerrero and five council members seemed to be near agreement on the broad strokes of a proposal that would remove the commission’s authority to make recommendations on a range of operational details that include fixed-base operators and other tenants; lease agreement terms; the facility’s annual budget; and, in fact, “all matters affecting airport management.”
The changes were recommended by airport commission chair Chuck Nash who said the commission’s historical duties have become unnecessary and redundant in the five years since the council contracted with a private firm, Texas Aviation Partners, to operate the 1,350-acre general aviation facility.
“As the ordinance is written today, time-sensitive decisions require approval from the board before being discussed by the council. This can add unnecessary weeks to a simple lease amendment, meaning lost time and money for the airport and its commercial operators,” Nash wrote council members on Aug. 11. “The added requirement of being ‘rubber-stamped’ by the commission is an overkill to the checks and balances system.”
Nash said he supports “phasing out” the airport commission altogether, a suggestion that won approval from Guerrero and council members Jude Prather and Ryan Thomason.
“I would like for the group getting paid to run the airport to [be able to] run the airport and not have to go to the commission and council for every lease amendment. We’re putting too many obstacles in the way of being productive,” Thomason said.
Council member Jane Hughson said she could go along with ordinance revisions proposed by Nash, but suggested an additional clause be inserted that explicitly states that the airport commission does not maintain oversight of day-to-day operations of the facility. Hughson drew the line, however, at disbanding the commission completely, a position shared by council members John Thomaides and Lisa Prewitt.
“I don’t question [Texas Aviation Partners’] ability whatsoever. I just think … maybe we should change the composition, change some of the charges and, maybe in a year, review it and see if it’s still needed, if it functions better or not at all,” Prewitt said.
Council member Shane Scott, who was called away from Tuesday’s meeting on a family emergency, has previously expressed skepticism about dissolving the airport commission. Council members agreed to schedule a vote during an upcoming meeting on the proposed revisions to the commission’s duties.