City Council seeks legal counsel after KAA cancels last workshop

It was standing room only at Thursday’s Special Council Meeting regarding the airport after the Kingman Airport Authority canceled the fourth and final workshop with the council.

Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.

It was standing room only at Thursday’s Special Council Meeting regarding the airport after the Kingman Airport Authority canceled the fourth and final workshop with the council.

KINGMAN – Kingman Airport Authority backed down from a fourth and final workshop with the public and City Council Thursday because the meetings had “digressed” into complaints and criticism.

That doesn’t mean the game’s over. City officials took the time allotted for the KAA meeting and strategized their next play in front of a packed Council Chambers.

The council agreed to have city staff look into retaining legal counsel before digging into KAA financials. The list of qualified law firms with experience related to airport operations was narrowed to three to go out for request for proposal.

Councilman Stuart Yocum said up to $100,000 could come from procurement to pay for the legal services, but he’d like to see something much less than that.

Travis Lingenfelter, who campaigned to shake things up at the airport, said the chosen law firm could be retained for as little as $5,000, plus conference fees.

The council skipped over several items on the special meeting agenda, including pursuit of a forensic audit of KAA and the scope and maximum cost of that audit.

Also, council has requested a briefing from the Federal Aviation Administration throughout previous work sessions with KAA, but was unable to define the scope of the briefing. Vice Mayor Jen Miles recommended postponing the FAA meeting until the city knows more about the issues.

“The FAA wants a list of questions rather than come here,” she said. “I hate to escalate with the FAA because there’s a lot at stake, including their partnership with the dross site.”

Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly said the city should hire its law firm, then meet and go over concerns and questions about the transfer agreement that gives KAA sole power of the city-owned property.

“We need to go over the basics and move from there,” she said.

As far as the scope of the audit, Stehly said she’d want to keep it general so as not to miss anything.

Lingenfelter said he’d want to bring in an examiner to go through the stack of KAA financial reports before doing a forensic audit, if that becomes necessary.

“We need someone with an examiner background to go through and if they find anything, we can escalate it,” Lingenfelter said.

“Absolutely,” Mayor Monica Gates agreed. “We’ve got to identify what we’re looking for.”

Important documents such as the transfer agreement, financial audits and monthly reports should be made available to the public and posted on the city’s web site, Lingenfelter said.

Gates said there were two items in the airport contract that she would like to see addressed. One is educational events such as air shows that we’re not seeing, and the other is bringing the terminal up to code.

At which point, someone in the audience blurted, “What’s the terminal being used for?”

It’s about airport maintenance in general, more than the terminal, Stehly answered.

Lingenfelter said he received an email from KAA to meet with council without a quorum and without public input, but that didn’t go over well with several councilmembers.

David Wayt said he’d like to see another workshop in which the public would be given more than three minutes to discuss problems they see, and staff was directed to schedule that in the next 30 to 45 days.

Vickie Kress was silent during the half-hour meeting, but said she agreed with everything that was said. She realizes what industrial park tenants and airport users are saying about their concerns being ignored by KAA management, and she feels the city is getting the same treatment with the cancelled work session.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Kress said. “I can’t tell you how much time and resources we dedicated to this and it was so close to the fourth meeting.”