The Central Virginian

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Disputed bill would allow IDA to run Louisa’s airport

Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 8:00 am

A bill that De. Peter Farrell plans to introduce to the General Assembly would legalize the IDA's ownership of Louisa's  airport.

A bill that De. Peter Farrell plans to introduce to the General Assembly would legalize the IDA’s ownership of Louisa’s airport.

The feud over whether the Louisa County Industrial Development Authority has control of the airport will go back to the Virginia General Assembly in January.

The IDA has been in a tangle with the county’s board of supervisors about the airport for over two years. In 2016 the board refused to help the IDA pay for airport-related expenses, though it had in the past.

Now Del. Peter Farrell has been tasked with trying to carry a bill in the next General Assembly session that would make it clear the IDA has the power to own and operate an airport.

Farrell introduced a similar bill in January 2016, but withdrew it almost immediately. The bill had the support of the IDA, but not the supervisors.

This time around, Farrell will present two bills for his fellow state legislators to consider. One is tailored to allow any locality’s industrial development arm to run an airport. The other would allow it only in Louisa.

It’s difficult to know before Farrell discusses the bills with fellow state legislators whether either bill can win support. Some may want the option for their own industrial authorities to operate airports, but others may not.

What is clear is that some IDA officials sharply disagree with some of the language in the Louisa-specific document.

The seven-member IDA board voted on Oct. 20 to oppose a provision that says “Louisa County may appoint directors to serve at the pleasure of its board of supervisors.”

Graven Craig, the IDA’s counsel, said in a written opinion that those words would be a problem for agencies that issue bonds to allow the IDA to carry out economic development projects, by implying that the board members have no power of their own and serve mainly to do what the supervisors want.

To read the entire story, see the Dec. 1 edition of The Central Virginian.

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