Mon, Aug. 19

Editorial: Buck stops with city council on airport policies

There are two obvious courses of action the Cottonwood City Council should take with regard to adoption of an operations and procedures manual for the airport.

The first would be to dump the document back into the lap of the Airport Commission. That should be done with the emphatic message that the airport crowd should not come back to the council with such a divisive attitude. Airport commissioners and facility users alike need be told they need to resolve their differences over the operations and procedures manual before the council will ever consider it.

Given the strong personalities involved, it's a given that such a course of action would require the mediation skills of someone such as City Manager Doug Bartosh to help the opposing sides find consensus.

Or, the council could choose to thank the members of the members of the airport commission for their efforts to date. They could tell them that they are done with their part of the job and now it is the council's job to craft the document that will become city policy.

With either course of action, what is important to remember is that the buck stops with the city council. The airport commission's role is to advise the council. The city council is not obligated in any way to follow that advice. The decisions of the airport commission are nothing more than a blueprint for the city council.

The council is not a rubber-stamp for the airport commission.

That means the council needs to accept the responsibility for deciding whether this proposed operations and procedures document will be a policy manual or an enforceable ordinance. It means the city council has to decide if it wants to take a heavy-handed approach to policy infractions such as the current recommendation to take away a pilot's "user key." Or, should this be an ongoing process of aviation education for airport users.

Further, the council needs to decide if its operations and procedures manual is a document that defines the day-to-day operations of a public-access airport, or one that requires adherence to the highest levels of FAA and Homeland Security scrutiny.

Bottom line: It is the Cottonwood City Council's job to make these decisions. No one else.