Aviation Authority to request attorney general’s opinion

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published March 24, 2014

The Charleston County Aviation Authority will request the S.C. attorney general’s opinion on whether a special-purpose district needs to pay fees to its local municipality, the authority unanimously voted at its meeting Thursday.

Authority member Mallory Factor requested clarification on whether the aviation authority — which is a special-purpose district responsible for managing, operating and developing all public airports in its district — is exempt from local ordinances.

In September 2012, the authority allocated $430,000 to the city of North Charleston for building permits.

The authority’s legal counsel, Arnold Goodstein, said the authority is responsible to pay fees, such as building permits, to the municipality it resides in. The authority is not responsible for paying taxes.

“The question is bigger than just the $430,000,” said Baxter, who wants a clarification for future projects, not just the Terminal Redevelopment Improvement Program.

Before the vote, authority Chairman Andy Savage said the matter should be considered by the authority’s governance committee. Authority member Keith Summey, also the mayor of the city of North Charleston, heads the committee. Savage said Summey is welcome to recuse himself from the conversation.

“Let’s send it to the attorney general. He has no dog in this fight. It’s in an independent body,” said authority member Teddie Pryor, also the Charleston County Council chair.

Savage will write a letter to Attorney General Alan Wilson for an opinion on the matter.

Airport improvements

The authority unanimously voted to allocate $4,300 toward additional asbestos abatement near the baggage claim hall. The work will be completed by Nov. 20, and air monitoring will be performed during the abatement.

Asbestos was discovered earlier this year during construction. The authority expects additional funds will have to be spent as additional asbestos-containing materials are discovered.

The authority also unanimously approved $178,000 for a number of change orders for the airport renovations, including $87,000 for a fiber-optic connection for gate 12, improving plane-boarding bridges and updating airline ticket counters.

Matt McCoy of Michael Baker Corp. said the Terminal Redevelopment Improvement Program is on schedule. The second new baggage claim carousel has been installed, and testing began last week. It should be operational early next month.

The rental car pavilion opened this week, although “some finishing touches” are still going on, Airports Director Paul Campbell Jr. said.

Amid construction by Austin – Hitt Contracting Inc., the airport’s central hall is covered from passengers’ view. Upon completion, the brown brick will be replaced with lighter materials, and a large dome will serve as the ceiling to let more light into the airport, McCoy said.

Steel has gone up on the Concourse B extension. For the Central Energy Plant, crews have constructed stairwells and erected perimeter walls up to the second level. Construction crews are backfilling concrete to return some unusable runway space to airlines as quickly as possible.

A power outage and some water leaks occurred recently at the airport due to construction. Campbell said he expects some issues to continue and he is impressed with the team’s response.

“We are working at an operating airport, not a greenfield site. We’re bound to have some hiccups while we are deconstructing the airport to reconstruct it again,” Campbell said.

Also during the meeting, board member Linda Page, also the mayor of Mount Pleasant, suggested the authority allows teleconferencing for committee meetings. Authority member Ellie Thomas also suggested scanning and emailing the large board packets to save on printing costs.

“It would be cheaper to buy iPads than to print all of these off,” Thomas said. “It’s 2014.”

Both items will be referred to the governance committee for consideration before the board votes on them.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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