News @ Noon: Benton County Board Chair Says Talks Continue on Creation of Regional Airport Authority
ST. CLOUD - The idea of creating a Regional Airport Authority to run the St. Cloud Regional Airport is still in the very early stages. Benton County Commissioners Chairman Jake Bauerly says one of the first steps he'd like to see is for the the three area counties to pass a resolution asking for a change in federal laws.
If you're more than 90 miles away from an existing airport you've got federal funding. Well St. Cloud is within the 90 miles, we don't get the federal funding. So there's a million something a year we're not getting. The first thing we've got to do is get our congressman and senators to work on that antiquated federal law that prevents us from getting essential air service funding. And it would be well over a million dollars a year for us.
Bauerly says another important step is putting together a feasibility study.
The National Guard came in here a few years ago, there's some rumblings that might expand. There could be air freight coming in here. There could be more of these recreational flights to various locations like Las Vegas or Florida. The big elephant in the room is, are we going to go for daily air service again? That needs to be studied.
Bauerly says the chairs of the three area county boards have met with St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis once, and they also met with the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation.
He says, if a vote on the creation of a Regional Airport Authority was held today, he's not sure the votes are there on the Benton County Board of Commissioners.
He says a vote on the creation of a Regional Airport Authority is still a good 12-to-18 months away.
Right now the St. Cloud Regional Airport is operated by the city of St. Cloud.