Management change should not affect airport users

by: KEVIN GABOURY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - An unidentified pilot prepares for take off at the Prineville Airport.  Management of the airport now rests with the county.

Management responsibilities of the Prineville Airport have been transferred from the City of Prineville to the county in a unanimous decision by both sides and the new arrangement is expected to create more efficient operations at the airport.
   "All we're doing really is moving the bookkeeping function from the city to the county and marrying it with property ownership," Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said. "Now it's in the county's budget instead of the city's budget."
   He also mentioned that the average airport user will see no difference.
   The actual property the airport lies upon is owned by the county, so in the previous arrangement, the airport was managed jointly between the City of Prineville and the county.
   According to Cooper, the city and county entered into an agreement about five years ago that said the city would be responsible for managing finances, providing insurance and providing legal council based on the premise that the airport lies entirely within city limits.
   However, Cooper said, "It has been proven over time to be a somewhat difficult agreement because you've got land owned by the county being managed by the city."
   For the new arrangement, both bodies agreed that it would be more feasible to have the county provide the legal, insurance and financial oversight for its own property.
   The city will still retain some rights at the airport, including jurisdiction for land use and planning decisions and will continue to appoint members to the airport commission. The day-to-day management and operation of the airport will continue to rest with the airport commission.
   Cooper also mentioned that part of the issue may be that the city has put more energy to the City of Prineville Railroad, which has struggled over time.
   "The discussion among policy leaders was that it may make more sense to have one body manage the airport, while the other manages the railroad, rather than have one body try to manage both, because there's only so much energy to go around," he said.
   City Manager Robb Corbett also feels that the airport will be better off with the new arrangement.
   "As we worked together, it was determined that it would be more efficient if the county were to take over the fiscal responsibilities [at the airport]," he said. "The airport has gotten busier and busier, and with the arrangement the way it was, it was just more cumbersome, so this was just seen as a way to streamline processing of payments, decision making processes and those kinds of things."
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