My Turn: Three new airport board members on course to waste money
I’m writing this My Turn guest column to sound a wake up call to the taxpayers of Placer and Nevada counties. Some of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport District Board is intent on wasting many of your hard-earned tax dollars in a bid to try and keep some of their false campaign promises.The plan of the newest board members was to limit the noise of the airport. How are the new board members going to make good on this promise? They are starting to realize that they can’t do it through legitimate means. The board, it appears, is going to try and bankrupt the airport district, while not taking federal grants and either try to close the airport or mold airport into what they consider a kinder, friendlier airport, while wasting a lot of the taxpayers money while trying to do it. How are they going to do this you ask? Well, it involves quite a few steps, a couple of which are already in process. They have proposed a budget that is calling for a $900,000 annual deficit. This deficit would eliminate 20 percent of the cash reserves of the airport district. Some of this money is going to the Airport Citizens Advisory Board (ACAT) for a study of airport noise, a focus group and other fruitless expenditures, which gets us no closer to any sort of solution. Another part of their plan is to get the airport district to consider measures that contradict federal a laws governing aviation, thereby inviting future litigation.In the past, the airport board has agreed to deficit budgets. These budgets funded hangers and things necessary for the airport and provided a return on investment to the airport district and therefore us the taxpayers. Spending money on studies, focus groups and legal fees to fight aviation interests has no return on investment and is part of their plan to drive the airport district into bankruptcy. Make no mistake about it either, aviation interests and the FAA will litigate to keep this airport open. The district will lose because of the fact that what the board members are trying to do is against the law, and a violation of the federal grant assurances. The airport will stay open and more of the taxpayers’ money will be wasted to foot the bill for this folly. But the fact will remain that much money will be wasted in these legal battles. The new board members will possibly get their wish anyway by pushing the airport district into bankruptcy, through legal fees, to defend their position. Love the airport or hate the airport; it shouldn’t matter. What should matter is that in these days of crazy government spending, our elected members of the airport board are wasting more of our tax dollars. When the board was sworn in they took an oath to be good stewards of public funds. They have a fiduciary obligation to do what is best for the taxpayers of the airport district. As far as I can tell they are failing on both counts at this early stage of terms. The wasting of the taxpayers’ money borders on gross negligence. The new board members don’t wish to open their eyes to the facts of this airport. One of the facts being that as long as the citizens of Truckee, Nevada and Placer counties let high-dollar golf course type subdivisions to spring up like mushrooms, this airport is going to get busier. This is how the people that buy into these developments choose to travel, and the board members aren’t going to stop that through the wasting of our tax dollars. A couple of years ago the people of the state of California took the governor out of office because of his perceived incompetence. Now I don’t know if some members of the airport board have reached that level yet, but if this trend of waste continues, it is certainly an option the taxpayers could explore. The voters of these counties are by no means powerless against our elected officials. Darren Graves lives in Tahoe City.
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