KINGMAN – As tensions and legal fees continue to rise in the legal battle between the City of Kingman and Kingman Airport Authority, Councilman Travis Lingenfelter is asking if KAA could better serve the community by using those funds for airport improvements rather than for legal fees.
The City of Kingman, dissatisfied with management and operations at the airport, sent a notice of condemnation to KAA in November, seeking to acquire KAA’s lease and assets.
“The moneys that are generated from operating those community assets are to be reinvested back into those assets, they are not to fight the city in a legal battle, the city being the sponsor,” Lingenfelter said.
The KAA board initially appropriated $150,000 for legal fees, but then increased that amount by $100,000 by unanimous vote at a meeting held Jan. 17.
Robert Riley, director of economic development at Kingman Airport and Industrial Park, said those funds are not specifically being allocated to the lawsuit, but to legal fees in general.
“I would ask how much is the City spending on their legal fees?” he said.
The City in early October hired Daryl Williams of the Phoenix law firm Baird Williams and Greer at a discounted rate of $400 an hour.
Lingenfelter said in a Facebook post on Jan. 29 that those funds being appropriated by KAA, “could have delivered one heck of a pilot’s lounge, or numerous other airport improvements.”
Riley said that indeed those funds could have been put back into improvements if a legal battle was not a concern.
“We’re in defensive mode,” he said. “The City hired their attorney first and started this lawsuit, so we are defending this position. If the funds weren’t being expended for legal defenses, could they be utilized for other things at the airport? Yes.”
Riley stated that Kingman Airport and Industrial Park is the largest park outside of Maricopa County, with more than 2,000 employees and a less-than 3 percent vacancy rate. He added that understanding the scope of all the undertakings at the park requires a first-person view.
Lingenfelter said in his post that he believes the City should look into, “What are the individuals behind KAA really protecting?”
His post notes that he has added a discussion on the matter onto the Feb. 6 Council agenda. Council will discuss in executive session bringing in a certified fraud examiner to look at KAA transactions. Any subsequent vote would take place in public session.
“I think people have lost the ability to read between the lines, and I think they’re protecting their personal businesses’ interests,” Lingenfelter said.
Council will meet in regular session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, at the Mohave County Administration Building’s auditorium, 700 W. Beale St.
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