The city’s Airport Task Force has made a major recommendation that would change the way things operate for the Springfield/Branson National Airport.
The task force is recommending that the administration of the airport be turned into a regional airport authority that would allow representation from the communities around the airport other than Springfield that benefit from airport operations.
The report states that while the current structure works well it limits the ability of the airport to streamline decision making. As the airport does not receive local tax support, the limits upon the airport operations as a City department can block opportunities for entrepreneurial and grant funds.
An example given during the presentation to Council talked of a situation with the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. The FAA called the airport about unallotted grant money but a response had to be given by the close of business. The N.A. airport is run via an authority, so they were able to say yes to the proposal from the FAA within the time frame. The Springfield/Branson National Airport wouldn’t have been able to respond by the end of the day due to current operational restrictions.
The change could require the city to make a change to the charter as a regional authority would no longer be a City department. A task force recommendation is that an Airport Authority Implementation Committee be formed to look at all the ways the transition could take place and recommend the best option to the City and whether or not a charter change would be required to make the move.
The City would retain the authority to appoint members to the Airport Board for the regional airport authority.
One of the major suggestions for the new board of the regional authority would be that members would be appointed by elected bodies such as the Springfield City Council rather than through public elections.
Airport task force co-chair Jim Anderson responded to a question from Mayor McClure regarding a timeline by stating the airports who made the transition recommended a minimum of six months with a 6-12 month time frame the most reasonable scenario.
A regional airport authority would not have any authority to levy taxes.
Read the Task Force report: