Rankin County has named Chance Carter, of Community Bank of Brandon, as its selection to a regional airport authority recently created by the Legislature.
In a statement to Mississippi Today, Rankin County Administrator Laura Oster, said of Carter’s qualifications: “As a banker, Mr. Carter has significant financial and fiscal management experience, skills that will serve the interests of the citizens of Rankin County as well as our regional airport authority and surrounding communities.
“The Rankin County Board of Supervisors is gratified to have a person of Mr. Carter’s integrity, background and experience willing to step into this important role of service,” Oster said.
The Jackson Medgar-Wiley Evers Airport is located in Rankin County, but sits on land that Jackson owns and controls.
Madison County recently named retired air guardsman Brig. Gen. Bob Matthews as the county’s representative to the board.
It is unclear whether either man will sit on the board anytime soon.
Members of the current airport board, which the new authority would replace, have threatened to go to to court to prevent the law from going into effect. Jackson officials, who say the new board is tantamount to an illegal takeover and seizure of city assets, have said they could join in litigation to block the new authority.
Last week, city and airport authorities pointed to an entry in the federal register by the Federal Aviation Administration as evidence that the state cannot change management of the airport without FAA approval.
According to the agency’s federal register entry, “While state or local legislative action, or a judicial action … may seek to change an airport’s ownership, sponsorship, governance, or operations, only the FAA has the authority to determine sponsor eligibility, approve and formally change airport sponsorship, and approve and issue a new Airport Operating Certificate.
“The FAA has a statutory obligation to ensure that an airport sponsor/operator is capable of assuming all grant assurances, safety compliance, and other federal obligations, and has the expertise to operate the airport.”
The agency also advises state and local governments considering legislation to change airport owners to work with the current sponsor and to seek technical assistance from the FAA.
A Jackson resident, Jefferey Stallworth, has already filed one lawsuit in federal court over the issue.
Sponsors of the legislation argued that the airport is a regional asset and, therefore, should be governed by representatives from the entire tri-county area.
In addition to the Rankin and Madison representatives, the adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard and the head of the Mississippi Development Authority would also sit on the authority. The governor would get to name two others to the board, but they must live in the city of Jackson.
The mayor of Jackson gets one selection, who would serve a one-year term initially, as would the Jackson City Council.
“The city of Jackson will not appoint any members to this unconstitutionally created board which is intended to usurp the voice and sacrifices of the taxpayers of Jackson,” Mayor Tony Yarber said through a spokeswoman.
The lieutenant governor would also get one pick, who would serve a five-year term. A spokeswoman from Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said he is reviewing his selections and would make an appointment at the appropriate time.
Perhaps Mayor Yarber and the current board should build a wall around the airport and only allow happy customers through the gate.
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