Charlotte Says 'No Thanks' To Lawmakers' Airport Compromise

Jul 9, 2013

Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey has rejected the latest offer from NC lawmakers over Charlotte airport authority legislation.

Charlotte City officials have rejected an offer of compromise from state lawmakers over the future of the Charlotte airport.  As a result, legislators say they'll renew their push to create an airport authority this week.

State lawmakers say they had the votes to create a regional authority for the charlotte airport months ago, and only slowed the process down to give the city of Charlotte a chance to shape the measure.  But city officials have now turned down the legislature's latest – and likely last – offer.

That offer was to create a study commission – divided equally between supporters and opponents of an airport authority. Whatever the commission recommended, state lawmakers would pass as law next year.

Representative Ruth Samuelson (one of the bill's co-sponsors) says "The city had an unprecedented opportunity to be represented as equals with all options on the table."  But Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey says the offer wasn’t good enough.

"I personally believe that their goal is to make an authority - I think that was the goal of the study commission," says Kinsey.  "So if they're going to do it, they might as well do it without going through the study commission. I hope they don't. I hope they will realize we're operating in very good faith here doing what has been recommended, working with the airport."

The city has pledged to address many concerns airport authority supporters have raised as evidence for the need to take Charlotte Douglas out of the city's hands.  Both sides of the issue say they want "what's best for the airport," but city officials clearly want it to remain under their control and Republican state lawmakers clearly don't.

Representative Samuelson says that leaves lawmakers "no choice but to move forward with what we believe is in the best interest of the airport."

A bill creating a Charlotte Airport Regional Authority will probably be revived this week.