Letter To The Editor: FURTHER COUNTY LEGAL ACTION IS UNWISE AND COSTLY

An aerial view of the land that might be impacted by a new regional airport. (file photo)

An aerial view of the land that might become a new regional airport. (Oskaloosa News file photo)

Editors Note: The views and opinions expressed in this editorial are not necessarily the views or opinions of Oskaloosa News.

A Mahaska Community Development Group Press Release

OSKALOOSA, July 20, 2018…Representatives of the Mahaska Community Development Group (MCDG) today applauded the decision of the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors for delaying any further action to oppose the South Central Regional Airport development. The Mahaska County District Court in June ruled the contract between the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella and Mahaska County was valid and that the county breached that contract by refusing to perform its contractual obligations. MCDG is hopeful that the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors will move forward with the decision to not appeal the Mahaska County District Court decision.

MCDG Economic Development Director Tom Flaherty reported that the legal challenge has already cost the Mahaska County taxpayers an estimated $100,000 in legal fees. “Appealing the court decision would likely double the fees and result in the same verdict,” Flaherty said.

South Central Regional Airport Authority Chairman Jim Hansen explained that the worst of the economic fall-out resulting from the protracted legal battle can’t be measured in wasted tax dollars alone. “County delays caused the region to lose $900,000 in the Federal Aviation Commission funding cycle,” Hansen said. Although the airport construction money was ‘earmarked’ by the FAA, the funds were not released because required actions by Mahaska County officials had not been completed. “The FAA funds, coupled with a 10 percent ‘match’ from the Cities of Osklaloosa and Pella, represent a nearly $1 million lost investment in the Mahaska County economy.

MCDG officials remain optimistic that FAA funding for the project will be made available for the regional airport project. Nonetheless, they fear further legal maneuvering by Mahaska County officials will render the project even more expensive. According to Flaherty, the proposed airport is subject to the same ‘construction inflation’ that affects all major building projects. “Specifically, any major building project will cost, at least 4 percent more to build next year, than it will this year,” Flaherty explained.

Flaherty concluded, “The proposed regional airport represents an opportunity to strengthen and diversify our Mahaska-Marion economy. Even if we never set foot in the new airport; we all benefit from the competitive advantage and added job security the airport provides. Further opposition to airport development is bad economic policy. More importantly, it is divisive and harmful to community life. We need to move on and embrace the future. I congratulate those county officials who do so.”

Press release updated as we failed to include our editorial disclaimer.

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Posted by on Jul 21 2018. Filed under Editorial, 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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