Progress on Management of the Airport

Progress is being made towards active management of the Bend Municipal Airport.  The Bend Budget Committee, on May 21, voted to commit funds necessary to change the proposed part time manager to a full time professional.

The City Council will vote on the final budget at its regular meeting on June 19, 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers.  Public testimony will be received, so nothing is assured at this time.

It seemed clear to me that the background and justification for a full time experienced manager that I sent to the Budget Committee on May 8 had not been convincing, and that my testimony May 21 was only marginally persuasive.  But Bill Friedman did move to add $50,000 to fund the position full time.  The down side is that the money had previously been proposed to finish the upstairs at the Flight Services building.

We need pilots and airport users to present testimony in support of an experienced airport manager at the City Council meeting June 19.  Businesses at the airport particularly should speak to the need for on site management of the facility.  Tyler Speed at Electronics International has written a very good letter to the City Manager this week.

If employment at the Municipal Airport was treated as a single unit, it would probably rank between all the Wal-marts and all the Safeway stores in the Central Oregon region, as the 13th or 14th largest employer. 

Understandably, in a period of very tight budgets, the City wants the airport to be entirely self supporting.  Few airports are, even in good times, but Bend ranks high among Oregon airports.  The fact that the Municipal Airport probably generates in excess of $50 million in economic benefits to the community each year did not seem to resonate with the Budget Committee. 

Mayor Friedman did pick up my point that perhaps the airport should be looked at in terms of a public utility, and consideration given to the services the airport provides to the community.

Please mark June 19, 7:00 PM at City Hall, on your calendar to attend the Council meeting, or write a letter of support to the Mayor.