City, KAA lawyers argue over airport condemnation
KINGMAN – Between breaks handling other cases, Mohave Superior Court Judge Steve Moss heard nearly seven hours of evidence and testimony Wednesday on the City’s attempt to take immediate possession of the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park through condemnation.
The judge will now take the evidence under advisement, with no deadline for a ruling, while he researches the law on the 25-year contract between the City of Kingman and KAA, market value of the property and what role the Federal Aviation Administration plays in the City’s assumption of operations.
“There were a lot of questions about damages, how the City would operate the facility and things like that, issues about the law,” attorney Andy Federhar, representing KAA, told the Daily Miner from his Phoenix office.
Federhar, who previously filed a motion to have the case heard in federal court and special action for the Court of Appeals, said Judge Moss was “very even-handed” in listening to witnesses from both sides.
The lawyer called upon Bob Riley, KAA economic development director, to talk about the condition of airport facilities, the state of the economy and the difficulty in attracting business to the industrial park.
The judge also heard testimony on whether the City is prepared to take over the airport.
Federhar submitted documents related to operation of the airport, including a letter from the FAA requiring that the agency be consulted on any ownership changes.
City Council has expressed dissatisfaction with KAA management and the lack of business growth at the airport and industrial park, sending a notice of condemnation to the authority in December.
The City is requesting that KAA “immediately relinquish possession of the airport, all associated personal property, keys, books, records and bank accounts, with all such records to provide sufficient detail to allow an account of expenditure of funds held in trust – the city’s money – for the improvement of the airport and operational costs.”
Daryl Williams, outside attorney for the City of Kingman, called upon an appraiser with 50 years of experience in property condemnation who said there was no market value to the interest being sought.
“What is being condemned here is the right of Kingman Airport Authority to act as the City of Kingman’s administrative agent, which cannot be assigned or sold, so therefore it has no market value,” Williams argued.
He also called upon Jeff Goldberg, in-house attorney for KAA, and asked if he knew that conversion of trust funds for unauthorized expenditures was a Class 2 felony with a presumptive sentence of five years in prison.
KAA continues to misallocate airport funds on legal expenses, City Councilman Travis Lingenfelter alleged. KAA’s board last week approved an additional $250,000 to hire more outside counsel.
“They are misusing airport public funds that were generated from the use of the citizen’s airport asset, and that are obligated to be reinvested back into our airport,” Lingenfelter said on Facebook.
Evidence of improper use of funds controlled by the airport authority is relevant for determining the necessity of this condemnation, Williams stated in his court memorandum. Criminal theft of funds is a “proper and relevant” subject of examination by the court, he added.
“I anticipate the court is going to rule in the city’s favor,” Williams said.