City begins crackdown on Kingman Airport Authority, possible legal battle in the works

Miner/file

City Council launched its first salvo at the Kingman Airport Authority Tuesday with a 7-0 vote to adopt Resolution 5113, declaring that KAA is failing to uphold expectations of its lease agreement and authorizing legal action.

Along with the resolution, attorney Daryl Williams of Phoenix law firm Baird Williams and Greer fired off a letter to attorney Andrew Federhar, hired by the airport authority to defend its 25-year lease agreement, requesting transfer of all KAA property to the City of Kingman.

“The City of Kingman is not satisfied with the way the Kingman Airport Authority has been operating the airport, so it wants to take the property back and operate the airport itself,” the letter states.

Council returned from a closed session at the end of Tuesday’s meeting with a quick vote on the resolution.

City attorney Carl Cooper explained that it’s the city’s belief that the airport authority is “devaluing the facility.”

Slide presentations at previous workshops showed deteriorating conditions at airport facilities and a clear lack of maintenance and lack of economic development.

Also, assets are being diverted to “improper purposes,” Cooper said.

“I don’t think we’re trying to insinuate anything criminal,” he said, “more of the money is not being put into funds or spent the way the city’s agreement is with the airport authority. It’s not meant to be as scary as the language sounds.”

The tersely worded letter from attorney Williams goes after the airport property with “condemnation” action.

“So here is the offer that will made in anticipation of the condemnation as required by (state law): my client will offer to pay zero dollars for relinquishment of the leasehold and transfer of associated property.”

KAA is required to surrender all leased premises with title to all buildings, structures and improvements, along with personal property, furniture, fixtures and other equipment used in the airport’s operation.

Williams said he would send a 20-day notice under state law for condemnation action. An appraisal is not required because the airport authority gets nothing from the condemnation award.

The city would rather have KAA voluntarily terminate the lease and transfer property as requested.

“Let me know within the next 20 days if I may avoid filing a condemnation action,” Williams wrote in the letter.

Several citizens spoke in favor of the resolution during public comment at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, including three or four pilots, a retired Air Force officer and a woman who said she was “ecstatic” to see the resolution.

During his election campaign, Councilman Travis Lingenfelter said he would advocate for changes necessary to get Kingman Airport and Industrial Park on track for measurable performance from a business perspective, including job growth and industrial growth.

“With the adoption of the resolution, I think the city took an important and significant stride toward maximizing the potential of Kingman’s largest community asset,” Lingenfelter said.

He thanked KAA staff for their service and called upon them to work with the city instead of paying an outside lawyer with airport funds that are supposed to be reinvested into the airport and industrial park for the benefit of all citizens.