Mahaska County Supervisors Mulling Over Airport Lawsuit

The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met Monday, July 16, 2018.

The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met Monday, July 16, 2018.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors held a conference call with their legal counsel in regards to the lawsuit over the proposed regional airport.

The cities of Pella and Oskaloosa filed suit against the County after the Supervisors voted to unilaterally withdraw from the 28E agreement that created the airport board and outlined the development of a new regional airport, named the South Central Regional Airport Agency or SCRAA.

Mahaska County Supervisors were challenging the word “each” in the 28E agreement, meaning to allow each part to depart the agreement. The judge in the case wrote, “This demonstrates the weak position Mahaska County is in regarding their resistance to the Plantiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgement.”

When the group returned to open session, Mahaska County Supervisors Chair Henry “Willie” Van Weelden said he was done with the lawsuit. Van Weelden has been a supporter of the airport since the initial meetings for the regional airport were hosted in 2010.

“We can continue to spend money, spend more money, and cause the cities to spend more money, and in the end, we don’t know what we’re going to gain,” said Van Weelden. “I think, as a county, we should be done.”

Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk, who voted with then-Supervisor Mark Doland to depart the 28E agreement, said he wanted more time to consider moving forward with the lawsuit.

“Initially, we had some questions on the 28E that I don’t think got answered in the original court ruling,” said Groenendyk. “I think they should be answered but I’m not sure….”

“I don’t know where you’re at Steve [Wanders], but I guess I’d like to think it a little bit before we talked about this morning. The attorney we talked with is fairly competent with the Supreme Court and had some court cases to [inaudible] his argument. I guess I’d like a few days to sit and digest it,” said Groenendyk.

“I would agree to that,” said Wanders. “I mean, it is a hot-button issue in Mahaska County, and I think we need to look down all avenues before we decide what to do next.”

Van Weelden was looking to put a meeting on the calendar so the Supervisors could decide on the matter, since the motion would need to be made to the court by July 29th if the county wanted to appeal.

“We should meet later in the week. I would think if you’re going to give this attorney time to… if you want to appeal, you’re going to have to give him a few days to get his stuff in order,” said Van Weelden to the board.

“Yeah,” said Groenendyk.

“I think we ought to set a date to meet,” added Van Weelden.

“I think maybe the 25th,” said Groenendyk.

“That’d give him two days,” Van Weelden said.

“Yeah, he said not the 28th,” Groenendyk said with a laugh.

“It’s up to you if that’s when you want to meet,” Van Weelden offered.

“I’m not really sure we have to meet yet,” said Groenendyk. “I’m not ready to take any action today.”

“Ok, we can set that later if you decide,” Van Weelden said.

If the county fails to file an appeal, the judgment will stand. According to the Judge’s ruling, the County would be in breach of contract, and the Plaintiffs, both Pella and Oskaloosa, could then seek remedies specified in the 28E agreement for breach of contract. The county will also have to pay the two cities legal costs.

Under the 28E agreement, Article XIV, Liquidated Damages for Non-Compliance and Dispute Resolution, Section 2 states:

“In the event one or more of the above Parties exercises its legislative authority to deny or significantly delay the acquisition, construction, equipping and use of the Airport Facility, that party shall be liable to the other Parties for liquidated damages in the amount of $250,000. Liquidated damages are set in this amount because the calculation of actual damages for such a breach of this Agreement will be difficult to calculate for reasons including, but not limited to: increased project costs due to delays, the need to obtain additional financing to replace the breaching parties’ obligations, and the actual funding that will need to be replaced by the non-breaching parties.”

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Posted by on Jul 17 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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