Airport Authority Bond Issue Games - And Response

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Chattanooga Airport Authority and their bond issue games to buy TAC Air are very concerning. Private planes at the Chattanooga Airport are serviced by a privately-owned company called TAC Air, and a taxpayer-subsidized operator called Wilson Air.  

The privately-owned company, TAC Air, pays rent to the Chattanooga Airport Authority, and operates without a dime of taxpayer funds.  The TAC Air business model is for profit to survive. If TAC Air operates in the red, they are out of business. 

The taxpayer-funded operator, Wilson Air, has an operating contract with the Airport Authority Board that provides if Wilson Air operates in the red, the operators are not responsible to make up the losses. It gets better - if Wilson Air operates with a profit, they share in the profit. 

To date, Wilson Air has operated in the red to the tune of over $1.31 million.  The Wilson Air business model is if we earn a profit, it is bonus time. If we operate in the red, who cares? The taxpayers pay the tab. What kind of contract is this, share in profit, but not in losses? 

In 2010, the Chattanooga Airport Authority Board voted in favor of a $10 million federal grant to construct a government-subsidized plane facility, Wilson Air that would compete directly with the private plane facility, TAC Air, who pays rent.  The Chattanooga Airport Authority borrowed funds, or leveraged bond issues on airport revenue for the local match of $10 million grant, which is believed to between `10 to 20 percent of the $10 million. 

Interestingly enough, the Chattanooga Airport Authority recently asked the City Council to make the taxpayers of Chattanooga the group that guarantees repayment of the bond issues, instead of Airport revenue.  Of course, our City Council approved this change throwing the taxpayers under the bus. So now, we the taxpayers of Chattanooga, not the Airport Authority revenue, guarantee repayment of the Airport Authority’s bond issues or loan funds. 

Returning to 2010, the Chattanooga Airport Authority built their new government-subsided private plane facility, Wilson Air, to compete directly with privately-owned, TAC Air. At this time, the Airport Authority Board contended that Wilson Air was constructed to create a competitive market at the airport for private plane fuel and services.  However, in 2010, the TAC Air hanger was only utilized to about 60 to 70 percent capacity.  The market demand for additional private plane services simply did not exist. Yet, the Chattanooga Airport Authority proceeded and built additional private plane services where a market demand did not exist. 

Moving ahead in 2013? The very predicable happened. Wilson Air operated in the red and to date has lost over $1.31 million, because there was not an ample market or demand for the additional private plane services or storage. The Airport Authority proceeded regardless of facts. With Wilson Air operating in the red, the Chattanooga Airport Authority, who created this financial debacle, now proposes to buy out TAC Air for over $7 million through bond issues that the city of Chattanooga taxpayers will guarantee.   We the taxpayers are being encumbered for these decisions. 

It is my understanding that the Airport Authority’s motive in attempting to buy out TAC Air for $7 million is to destroy the competition for Wilson Air. But wait a minute, it was just 2010 when the Airport Authority claimed they were creating competition.  Get your story straight, Airport Authority, and stick with it, but pick one. The Airport Authority’s wasteful bond issue games and contracting terms are very concerning. Where would the taxpayers begin to clean up this mess?

April Eidson 

* * * 

The Chattanooga Airport Authority Board is wanting to use Chattanooga city tax money to buy TAC Air and eliminate any competition for Wilson Air, a city owned business. A member of that same board, Mike Mallen, also helped push through the Tax Incremental Financing, aka TIF, for the hedge fund corporation, York Capitol, bond issue for their Black Creek Mountain development.  Black Creek Mountain is advertised as "Resort Style Living" for those that can afford it.  

Many people upon hearing of the TIF did not agree with the money being used that way and at least one lawsuit was filed to stop it. Mike Mallen sits on the board that now wants to spend your tax money to put a competitor out of business.  

Are these ways you wanted your tax money spent or would you rather have it spent on fire and police protection?  

Joe Blevins


Remembering Dr. Jack Willke - And Response

When I first became active as a Right-to-Life leader in 1975, Dr. Jack Willke (and his wife, Barbara) were the preeminent leaders at the National level.  Rarely did you see one without the other. They literally wrote the book used by Pro-Life activists everywhere, The Handbook on Abortion . I carried it everywhere and studied it over and over. Their books sold ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)

2 Hit While Walking On Birmingham Highway; 1 Dies At The Hospital

Two pedestrians were struck by a single vehicle on Highway 11 (Birmingham Highway) in Lookout Valley on Tuesday night. One of those who was struck died after being taken to a local hospital. Police said the other person who was hit was responsive. The incident happened shortly after 7 p.m. at 261 Birmingham Hwy. which is in the area of the Lookout Valley Cracker ... (click for more)

Henry Hopes To Bring E-Filing To Clerk's Office This Year; Saving Almost $222,000 On Personnel

Circuit Court Clerk Larry Henry said he hopes to bring E-Filing of documents and other court papers to the clerk’s office this year.   He said at first it appeared it might take much longer, but that progress is being made to the online program. Mr. Henry told members of the Pachyderm Club that attorneys, litigants and members of the public would be able to go online to ... (click for more)

Tre Tiller's 22 Leads Central To Region 3-AA Basketball Championship

There just must be something about playing basketball at Chattanooga State that makes the Central Purple Pounders click. Especially when the opponent is the Brainerd Panthers. Facing Brainerd for the fifth time this season and second at Chattanooga State on Monday night, the Purple Pounders defeated the Panthers for the third time. The latest conquest may have ... (click for more)

Hamilton Heights Invited To City Of Palms Classic

Hamilton Heights, which just completed a successful season at the NACA national tournament in Dayton, has already taken a big leap into more nationwide prominence by accepting an invitation to play in the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., next December 20-22. The Hawks, who went 28-5 this season with a highlight game at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, ... (click for more)