County approves airport agreement with City

The Smith Reynolds Airport will stay a part of the city and will receive new funds for capital projects as part of a new City/County agreement.

County approves airport agreement with City
May 12
12:15 2016

Chronicle file photo



The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the City of Winston-Salem to provide funding for the Smith Reynolds Airport, potentially bringing to an end the possibility of de-annexation.

The agreement, approved in the commissioner’s Monday, May 9 meeting, has the City and County giving the airport $150,000 each for eight years. City funds will be used for capital expenses and County funds can be used for operating or capital expenses. The City version of the resolution states that the agreement is contingent on it not being de-annexed.

“It’s an agreement that’s beneficial to all three parties,” said County Commissioner Ted Kaplan, who also serves on the Airport Commission.

The City Council finance committee approved the agreement, which will be voted on by the full council on Monday, May 16.

The airport has been a source of tension between the City and County for months. Smith Reynolds is owned by the County and is run by an Airport Commission, which asked the City for relief from stormwater fees on its runways and taxiways last year, an issue that is still in committee. The Airport Commission voted in March to explore de-annexing the airport out of the City as a solution. The airport officials argued that if the airport didn’t pay $118,000 annually in stormwater fees, they could use the money to secure state and federal funds for needed capital improvements. They also say that airplane owners paying both City and County taxes make Smith Reynolds less competitive than competing airports in the state, which are usually outside city limits.

County commissioners presented the idea of de-annexation to Forsyth County lawmakers last month and legislators urged them to find a local solution. That’s exactly what they’ve done, said County Commissioner Walter Marshall, who didn’t support de-annexation.

“My whole thing was that we need to sit down and work something out,” said Marshall.

County commissioners recently approved a resolution requesting that state lawmakers exempt municipalities from city stormwater fees statewide. Marshall, along with County Commissioner Everette Witherspoon, opposed the measure. Marshall said that the fees are important to fund programs to prevent stormwater pollution, which are federally mandated in larger cities, and doubted the resolution would become legislation.

When the City Council public works committee heard the airport’s request on stormwater fees, there was resistance on the committee to granting an exemption just for the airport. Instead, the committee is exploring giving stormwater fee credits, commonly used by other cities, for businesses who install preventative stormwater measures.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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