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Lincolnton City Council approves two airport contracts

MATT CHAPMAN
Staff Writer

The Lincolnton City Council voted unanimously on Thursday evening to execute two contracts with Lincoln County regarding the future of the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport.

The city has agreed to sell its 50 percent interest in a 59-acre tract of land at the airport at a cost of $225,000 to the county. The contract states that each entity desires to further develop and improve the subject property so that the airport may attract additional clientele and, in order to do so, it’s desirable that the county holds the sole title to the land. A $4 million grading project to prepare a portion of that site for future economic development, which hasn’t yet been approved by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, has been included in this year’s county budget.

The second contract relieves the city of some of its responsibility of funding the maintenance and upkeep of the airport. Last year, each entity contributed $60,000 to fund the operation of the airport. The contract proposes that the airport be funded in proportion to the rate at which sales taxes are allocated, which is currently at an 87-13 split, meaning that the county would be responsible for $104,000 worth of the operating costs compared to just $16,000 for the city.

The 87-13 split would also apply to any future tax revenue generated by the airport, which has never turned a profit during 30 years of operation, although the county will receive 100 percent of the revenue until all debts related to the airport have been paid off.

The city has also agreed to surrender its equal share of representation on the airport authority, which is a governing board with the administrative capacity to control, lease, maintain, construct, improve, operate and regulate the airport and landing field. Per the contract, the Lincoln County commissioners will appoint four of the five board members, however, one of the county appointees must reside within the Lincolnton city limits.

David Lowe, the city’s lone appointee on the airport authority, will serve as the chairman of the board. Lowe, who played an instrumental role in bringing the airport to Lincoln County in 1986 during his time as city manager, has served as chairman of the airport authority for the past 15 years. The board’s members will all serve staggered three-year terms, while also adhering to a two-term limit.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners will have to vote on each of these two contracts at a later date before the terms can go into effect. A date for that vote has not been set at this time.

In other city business, the council voted unanimously to rename a portion of Abernethy Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive per a request from the Coalition of Churches.

The council also voted to execute a contract with TGS Engineers to perform engineering design services for the planned sidewalk connector project on the East Main Street bridge over Highway 321. The contract comes at a cost of approximately $53,000 that will be covered through various state grants, including one from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.

Finally, the council approved an application that will make Green Branch, LLC the first beneficiary of the city’s downtown redevelopment revolving loan. Green Branch owner Mark Ingle, who also operates Ingle Builders in Lincolnton, will use the $30,000 loan for building renovations at 114 East Main Street where he plans to open a new butcher shop and deli to be known as The Meating Place.

The Lincolnton City Council will meet again on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. inside City Hall, located at 114 West Sycamore Street in Lincolnton.

Editor’s Note: An article in Wednesday’s edition of the Lincoln Times-News said erroneously that the city had agreed to sell its 50-percent stake in the airport. The city has only sold its interest in the 59-acre tract of land referenced earlier in this article. We regret the error.

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