This week's Council meeting included discussion on the airport

 Planning expansion at the Augusta Municipal Airport has been a challenge for the City Council for a number of years.  It hasn’t been easy to  shift the community mindset from our local airport being simply an out-of-the-way facility for fair-weather pilots to the idea that it can be an economic driver that can benefit the entire region and stimulate rural development.
Another step in accommodating future growth and development of the runway at the airport was on Monday night’s agenda for the council and drew considerable discussion.
Council members were asked to approve a proposal to execute a petition to the Butler County Commission to vacate 1,100 feet of SW 110th Street east off Indianola Road.  
City staff has worked with Federal Aviation Administration for a number of years to resolve conflicts with the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) at the north end of the runway. Conflicts with the north end include trees, buildings for a private business, and U.S. Highway 54/400.  In 2016, members of the city staff traveled to Kansas City, Mo. to discuss the project status, evaluate possible alternatives, and more importantly, resolve the conflicts. During the discussion, the FAA suggested shifting the runway focus to the south end of the airport for runway reconstruction and future development.  But before moving forward, the Airport Master Plan had to be updated.

The City has worked with planners and engineers, but the project has been plagued with setbacks and added requirements from the FAA and have prolonged the process.  
Assistant City Manager Cody Sims explained that the bulk of the project is complete.  The FAA conditionally approved the Airport Layout Plan, with full approval contingent upon the approval of the Environmental Assessment (EA).  After evaluation and re-approving the EA in June 2018, the FAA rescinded the approval in December 2018 and requested several updates to the EA before full approval can be granted to the Airport Layout Plan.
One of those requirements to update the EA  needs to be an updated letter of support from Butler County to close a portion of SW 110th Street.  Shifting the runway south creates a new conflict between the runway and SW 110th ST. if the runway is reconstructed at the current length of 4,200 feet.  
Sims advised that through the planning process, it was determined in order to capture 100 percent of our current target market, the runway should be 4,500 feet. And by 2022, the Airport Master Plan specifies the runway length should increase to 5,500 feet, according to runway length calculations.  
“Regardless if the runway is reconstructed at the current length of 4,200 feet or if it’s reconstructed at 4,500 feet, conflict with SW 110th will have to be addressed, if not there will be a runway that is shortened to 3,695 feet and  will effectively bring an end to jet traffic at the airport,” Sims said.
He further explained that reconstructing and extending the runway is the plan, however, in order to be able to extend, there are a couple of significant issues: 1. Closure of SW 110th St.; and 2. Rural Water District (RWD) No 5 water infrastructure along SW 110th St.
Sims added that he would not like to see the plan for the south end expansion fail.
“If we can’t expand south and if we have to chop off 500 feet at the north end, that’s a show stopper.  Growth is done.”
Councilman Cale Magruder said, “Washing your hands of this project will have ramifications.”
“There’s no washing hands much effort has gone into this...The issue started with the RPZ, the focus was on the north and then there were issues, and now we’ve shifted focus to the south,” City Manager Josh Shaw responded.
The mayor will sign the petition and it will initiate the process with a public hearing before the County Commission, which allows Augusta to present a formal request for closure, while providing adjacent and affected property owners with the opportunity to express their perspective of the request.  Following the public hearing, the Commission will be able to approve or deny the request for road closure.  If the request is approved, Butler County will issue a letter of support and satisfy FAA requirements for re-approval of the EA.

Before council members voted, Magruder stated, “If you vote to approve, be ready to stand behind it.”

Oath of Office
Ward 2 City Councilman Bob Bailey was officially sworn in at the beginning of Monday night’s Augusta City Council meeting.
Other action
• Approval to Connie Thurman, representing Downtown Augusta, Inc.,  to close portions of State Street for the annual Red Brick Festival and Ottaway Carnival April 12-13.  
• Approval to Mike McAllister, representing South Central Mental Health Counseling Center, for the use of Shryock Park for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day from 2 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 9.  The community event is to promote mental health awareness.  
• Approval of the bid proposal from Madrigal & Welch for the renewal of the City’s 2019 insurance policy in the amount of $410,844.  The amount does not include the Airport Liability Coverage, which is not due for renewal until April 15, and will be presented at the April 1 council meeting.  
ICI recently acquired Madrigal & Welch, and Tony Madrigal, along with Ryan Murry, President of ICI, appeared before council to answer questions about the acquisition or proposed renewal.  Madrigal will continue to be the council’s contact and play an important role in policy management.
The 2019 proposed insurance premium is a 4 percent total increase over the proposed premium for 2018.  There was a 6 percent increase in the property premiums due to new properties added.  Some included the new shelter and concessions at Garvin Park, the new dog park, and the Dalton Palmer Memorial Park.
Also added in 2018 were three new vehicles resulting in a 6 percent increase in the automotive premiums.
The City’s previous cyber policy had an annual premium of $660, but the coverage limits were minimal.  The maximum limit is $100,000.  With the annual premium increases to $5,030, the coverage limits are significantly higher (up to $100,00) and the new proposal addresses the current climate.
Erica Jones, Director of Finance, shared that all other policy premiums stayed fairly consistent with the prior year’s premiums.
• Approval of the Facility Use Agreement between the City and Augusta Little League Baseball for the Garvin Park Baseball Complex and the Garvin Park Fieldhouse.  The agreement establishes the basic expectations for using a public facility.
• Approval of Enhanced Cereal Malt Beverage Ordinance No. 2144.  State changes affecting the sale of cereal malt beverages take effect on April 1, which includes a cereal malt beverage retailer to sell beer containing up to 6 percent alcohol by volume and a retail liquor store to sell cereal malt beverages.  The state’s changes mirrors Augusta’s current code except the addition of a new section in Article 2 requiring the renumbering of all the sections.  There are no changes to the State Revenue Stamp.
• Approval of a zoning district reclassification from Rural Residential Division 6B (5.00 - 4.99 acres) to Rural Residential Division 6A (1.00-4.99 acres) for property located at 10202 SW Pampas Road in the Growth Area.