Corry City Council on Thursday will hold the first reading of ordinance number 1623, introduced by Mayor Mike Baker, signifying the intention of the city of Corry to organize an airport authority.
The ordinance reads in part, “The City of Corry hereby signifies its intention and desire to organize an authority under the Municipality Authorities Act approved May 2nd, 1945 … to acquire, hold, construct, improve, maintain, operate, own or lease an airport known as the ‘Corry Lawrence Airport’ and other air-fields and landing fields, located in Erie County, Pennsylvania, and undertake such airport projects permitted or authorized by the Municipality Authorities Act, to be devoted wholly or partially to public use for income producing purposes … ”
The first members of the board of the authority will be Chuck Gray, Brody Howard, Timothy Thomas and Charles Thompson, all of whom reside in Corry, and Brock Allen of Erie.
Councilman Andrew Sproveri expects great things from the new authority.
“I’m going to expect a lot from the authority,” Sproveri said. “It’s going to be heavy on their shoulders to make sure that eventually they get that to be self sustainable, because I know it’s a very important part of the city. But I also don’t feel the public, myself and all of us included, should be running the airport with our tax money. I know we have to be patient.”
One of the first priorities of Council will be to pay an outstanding bill to McFarland-Johnson Inc., for engineering of the aprons and assistance with a $680,000 grant for the airport.
McFarland-Johnson provides planning, engineering and construction services for airport projects. The company provided assistance with a grant program as well as engineering for the apron. The apron is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled, boarded or maintained.
“We have an accounting of all that was done [by the previous authority] and all that is still hanging over us is the engineering bill,” Baker said.
The bill has been past due since 2020.
If approved at today’s Council meeting, the $52,273 McFarland-Johnson bill will be paid by the city. However, Baker was quick to remind the public that the bill will be 95% reimbursed by a grant.
“We get reimbursed 95% of that,” Baker said. “There’s an additional charge to the completion of that project and engineering costs, but the city is only responsible for 5%, the state pays 5% and the federal government pays 90%.”
Councilman Jeff Fike explained that the engineers will not finish until getting paid.
“Where the problem lies is the old authority incurred this debt with the engineers for this grant program that is worth $680,000, where there will be a 95% recoup once it’s completed,” Fike said. “The engineers that are owed are still involved and refuse to do any more work. Therefore, if we don’t pay it, we’re going to start from ground zero.
Once the bill is paid, airport projects can move forward.”