Moving forward with a plan to make the airport part of a new interlocal agreement with Andover.

The members of the Augusta Airport Board expressed excitement about moving forward with a plan to make the airport part of a new interlocal agreement with Andover.

Bids for attorney services to assist with the merger process will be opened on Jan. 22. Those services will be paid by Butler County and the City of Andover who have both pledged up to pay up to $5,000.

“The potential merger would help us better share expenses and revenue from development at the airport,” Airport Manager Lloyd Partin said at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Partin said several well-qualified attorneys had express interest in bidding on the work.

“We would probably incorporate the new airport authority with this board,” Partin said. “Until we get more information, I don’t know exactly how that would all come together.”

Some of the items to be discussed when the attorney is selected include how to balance the existing investment Augusta has made in establishing and supporting the airport for decades with the new investment of asking Andover’s participation in bringing full utility services to the airport.

Those utilities would encourage and enable development at the airport that would likely create new revenue that would have to be shared between the two communities.

“There is a lot of opportunity here,” said Josh Shaw, Augusta’s Assistant to the City Manager. “This discussion has progressed further than ever. And now everyone will have skin in the game so I am as optimistic as I have ever been.”

Recent FAA changes have also made development at the airport more likely. The most recent advisory circulars have opened the door to new development that are commercial, industrial, residential or a mix of the three.

The two communities will meet in early February to determine how the potential partnership will proceed.