Airport’s Future Discussed at Council Lunch

The Springfield City Council discussed the future of the Springfield-Branson National Airport during their weekly council lunch meeting.

The bulk of the meeting discussed questions from city council members regarding a presentation from the Airport Task Force that recommended governance of the airport be turned over to a regional airport authority rather than be managed as a department of the city.

Mayor Ken McClure began the questioning with what many on the council added later was the crux of the issue: can this legally be done under Missouri law?

The task force was not able to answer whether or not that is possible, saying that investigating this was the next step in the process. Brian Weiler, the director of aviation for the airport, said that the task force’s charge was whether a change should be made, not if it could be done.

Councilman Hosmer several times spoke about the issues that have been raised by the task force, asking for city staff to investigate whether changes can be made to the system in place that would alleviate the issues discovered by the task force without having to change the city’s charter, have changes made to Missouri law and other items that were discussed as possible hindrances to a regional airport authority.

Other questions raised centered around bond issues, sovereign immunity matters if the airport was not city-owned and impact on city departments to go through the processes of any changes.

Nobody participating in the discussion advocated for no changes to the current airport governance. Several acknowledged concerns from airport staff regarding situations like being competitive salary-wise for employees the current system leaves the airport at a disadvantage.

No timetable was set for city staff to investigate the council’s questions regarding the Airport Task Force’s proposal.

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