Special to The Sun
The Guthrie City Council considered this week a proposal to move the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport board to a trust authority.
Council members took the proposal under advisement Tuesday and will have another workshop at a later date to consider the matter.
GERA board president Richard Geib, of Edmond, said the idea of creating a trust authority is designed to help with the ongoing growth of the airport.
“The airport board right now is proposing to both city councils we change the administration of the airport from the advisory board to a trust authority,” Geib said. “What that does is it provides the City of Guthrie specifically the ability to have a lot more specialized concentration as far as growth and development of the airport. The way we are set up now with things it is kind of slow. This would provide the trust authority to really specialize on the aviation industry and development for the airport with our new construction just directly with folks that are anxious to get involved.”
Geib said he thought the council seemed receptive to consider the matter.
“We gave them the trust documents,” Geib said. “They are going to review that and then they are going to set a date when the Guthrie City Council and the Edmond City Council get together for a workshop. At that workshop they will decide whether or not that is the direction they want to take. I think the majority of them are interested in taking a look at it. We are moving forward with what we think is a good idea.”
Guthrie City Councilman John Wood said it’s important for the council to study the airport trust plan and make sure it is good for both the airport and city.
“When moving the authority to a trust, we need to make some careful considerations,” Wood said. “We did not make a decision because the council needs to read over the “Geoport Airport Trust Indenture” paper given to us outlining the Trust idea. While the airport does have some momentum, we are postponing this topic for another workshop at our next meeting to review their plan.”
Wood said one of the matters to be considered is the cost.
“If we do move forward with the airport trust plan, we are likely to have to incur $2,000 to $5,000 in producing an independent audit,” Wood said. “Also, if it is a trust and there are problems, say, 10 years from now, it might be important to have the city as part of the decision-making process.”
Geib said if the city councils approve the plan then the GERA board would become a trust authority.
“It would be the same board,” Geib said. “It would just be a name change. Everything else would pretty much be the same. We would meet and operate pretty much the same way we do now. We would report directly to the city council. The council would continue to have the ultimate decision making power. The trust would have to create a budget and submit to the city council just like the board does.”
Geib said about 70 percent of the airports in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Southwest region are operated as a trust authority.
“It takes advantage of the expertise that the board members have and their contacts in the aviation industry to go out and deal with the folks that are out there directly as opposed to having to maneuver through the council system,” Geib said. “We have some opportunities right now if we were set up as a trust authority that we would be able to take advantage of and not let them slip it away.”
City Attorney Randel Shadid said if the board becomes a trust authority it only would have the ability to ask for bond debt from the City Council and could not issue any debt itself as an authority without a revenue stream to pay back the bonds.
“State law in Oklahoma requires that the beneficiary— that being in this case the City of Guthrie — would have to approve any bond financing that they requested,” Shadid said. “The only way realistically they would be able to get a bond issue approved would be an entity that already had a revenue stream to pay the bonds. That’s why there would never be any bonds issued at this time through an airport trust because there is not a revenue stream to pay them back.”
GERA board member Lamar Wade, of Guthrie, said the airport is growing in part due to a new section for corporate hangars.
He said having a trust authority designation would help continue that growth.
“We want some things to happen,” Wade said. “This would give us a little more freedom to move into a direction into making us a jet-ready airport.”