After a workshop last week related to airport governance, the City of Tallahassee decided not to move forward with a governance feasibility study which was estimated to cost $150,000.
The issue of airport governance, which has been part of the economic development discussion for years, reached a higher since of urgency when the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce requested a review of the current governance model of the City of Tallahassee International Airport (TLH).
The Chamber requested that the City give strong consideration to a separate and independent airport authority in order to provide more competition in air service and increased economic vitality.
In a recent letter to the city commission and other government leaders, Chamber President Sue Dick wrote that the “airport is key to our increased economic vitality and should be viewed as a regional asset…..The structure of the airport as part of the city government presents a number of challenges.”
However, the information provided at the workshop seemed to have convinced city commissioners that current operations and future planning at the airport are moving in the right direction.
After the presentation, City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow said, “I just can’t come to the logical conclusion that the next step would be to dramatically overhaul over governance..it seems like we are on the right track.”
Matlow cited the planned future investment, the increase in passenger traffic, and the airport master plan which has been in the works and is due in June.
Matlow made the point that the city is under new leadership, which includes a new city manager and four new city commissioners, and he believes the new leadership should be given a chance to improve the airport.
“I’m not against the airport authority, I’m just against it right now,” Matlow added.
Matlow thanked the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce for keeping the city focused on the issue.
City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said “we can see we are trending in the right direction.” She said we need less focus placed on governance and more attention on making the airport an economic driver.
City Commissioner Curtis Richardson was reluctant to move forward without receiving more community input.
The meeting ended without a vote on the recommendation to conduct a feasibility study.