ST. CLOUD -- In a narrow vote, the Stearns County Board of Commissioners have decided to join an Ad Hoc Committee to form a Regional Airport Authority, which would take over operations of the St. Cloud Regional Airport.

The three-to-two vote means Stearns County will have a voting member on the committee. Commissioner Leigh Lenzmeier will represent the committee.

He says with the airport continuing to operate at a loss something needs to be done.

I don't have a silver bullet answer on this, other than let's look at it some more, keep discussing it.  I don't think the horse is dead, maybe it's sicker than we appreciate, but it's not dead.

He says one big asset for the St. Cloud Regional Airport is the National Guard helicopter base.

We'd be playing taps for the whole operation except for the fact when they landed the National Guard facility, that really gave the airport a higher profile in terms of the federal and state.

By voting to join the Ad Hoc Committee Stearns County is not obligated to be a part of Regional Airport Authority, the committee will need to bring their proposal back to the commissioners this fall.

The city of St. Cloud and Sherburne County are the other two members of the committee. Benton County has decided not to participate.

The St. Cloud Regional Airport is currently owned and operated by the city of St. Cloud.

A recently completed study indicated the St. Cloud Regional Airport has an annual economic impact of over $44 million in the three-county area.