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Ventura County Focus

Officials Report on Tour of Airports

October 15, 1997|RICHARD WARCHOL

A fact-finding mission to four privately run airports in New York and New Jersey showed more private investment than county Chief Administrator Lin Koester expected, he said Tuesday.

Koester, who returned Friday with Supervisor John K. Flynn and county airports administrator Rodney L. Murphy, said airports in Teterboro, Morristown and Atlantic City, N.J., and Westchester County, N.Y., were well-maintained.

"Generally speaking, it looks pretty good for these areas that have airports under private lease," Flynn said Tuesday.

The move to explore privatizing the two airports is the latest attempt by the cash-poor county to draw more revenue from county-owned assets.

The trip came as county officials gauge the potential of a federal pilot program that would allow county airport officials to sell or lease the Oxnard and Camarillo airports to a private firm and pour some of the proceeds into other county programs.

Federal law otherwise requires all profits generated to be reinvested in the airports and not poured into the county's general fund.

Flynn said he still has questions regarding the impact on the airports' neighbors and how much control the county would retain if it leased or contracted management of the Oxnard and Camarillo airports to a private firm.

Just five airports nationwide will be accepted into the pilot program. The FAA will begin accepting applications Dec. 1, prompting some to accuse the county of ramming through the privatization concept.

Supervisor Frank Schillo said that the county is merely exploring the notion and scoffed at suggestions of a rush job.

"I've been in government a long time, but I've never seen government rush anything," he said.

Murphy will give the Board of Supervisors an analysis of the pros and cons of privatizing the two airports on Nov. 4.

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