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Why Not Sell the Airport?


Currently in the news is the Charlotte Airport. For years, decades even, the Charlotte City budget shows the airport as a stand alone entity. Its expenses and revenues always equal each other exactly. It is a curious thing which I’ve never quite believed, but had no reason to suspect it to be wrong. An operation the size of the airport, operating under the authority of City Council, never spending more or less than it takes in. This concurrently, perhaps not coincidentally, occurred under the watch of Mr. Jerry Orr, who is soon to retire.

During this same time period, Senator Bob Rucho and Rep. Bill Brawley, both of Mecklenburg County, both having been involved in local politics for years and both supportive of the success of Mecklenburg County never had anything to say about the airport, how it was legally constituted or its operation. All was well.

Then Mr. Orr decides to retire. Suddenly Rucho and Brawley decide the airport needs to be under the guidance of an authority independent of Charlotte. An authority which would take the airport away from control of Charlotte bureaucrats and elected officials after so many years of growth and success in that same situation.

On the Charlotte side, then Mayor Foxx cried foul, as did many members of the city council. One can only wonder why they would care. One can only wonder why the retirement of Mr. Orr would cause Rucho and Brawley to concern themselves with whether the airport was under the control of the city or should be under the control of an independent authority.

Seriously, why would City Council care? If the budget papers are accurate, it brings no money in, takes no money away, and they spend very little time on it. What do they gain or lose by the change in authority? The questions are the same for Rucho and Brawley. Why? What caused them to suddenly think the city was no longer qualified to guide the airport?

One suspects there are things hidden from the public; things Senator Rucho and Rep. Brawley and others know which are not being told. One suspects that the budget showing the airport as an economic wash might be misleading in predicting the future.

The whining of those at the city who want to maintain control is far out of proportion to the loss of a part of city responsibility which cost nothing and brought in no extra income. There is something peculiar about all this.

Make no mistake, the moving of the airport to an authority is only a step in the right direction. The airport should be sold. It would bring in billions to the taxpayers. Charlotte debts could be paid off, taxes lowered on city taxpayers due to lack of debt. Further, county residents could have their taxes lowered also as the land would be on the city and county tax rolls.

Those involved in government don’t mention this option. Why? They are about government control. They only argue about how government should control, not what is best for the taxpayers. So the City of Charlotte is going to argue about an authority to run the airport which would take away some power from them and at the same time vote to raise your taxes. Senator Rucho and Rep. Brawley are pushing for an authority. Where are the representatives of the people?

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