TELLICO PLAINS-The town of
Tellico Plains is staring down a tough decision--keep their lease with the county for the airport
or turn it over to the organization who has been maintaining it for the past 21 years.
The town is entered into a 99-year contract for $1 with Monroe County to
lease the airport property. In 1992, the town passed an ordinance allowing the day-to-day
maintenance of the airport to be handled by the Tellico Plains Pilots Association. The town
continued to covered liability on the airport.
Harris said the airport has increased its activities over the last year with the Tellico Plains
Pilots Association holding a fly-in and cookout on the third Saturday of each month since May.
"Through the summer, we've had really good turnouts when the weather
has been good," he said.
But recently the association
discovered the insurance had expired on the airport.
the company that was our insurance provider went out of business," said Harris, noted the business
did not notify them. "We've gotten with the town's insurance agency, but for some reason the FFA
forgot about us and we weren't registered through them anymore and that's required to get
insurance. We're back in the registry again and we have a quote for insurance, which is actually a
few hundred less than what the town was paying."
There has been
some discussion, however, on whether the town should maintain the insurance or if the Pilots
Association should get it settled and reimbursed by the town.
have some conflicting loyalties here," said Harris. "I'm on the board but I'm also a member of the
Hawkins said the town could let the Pilots
Association handle the insurance (approximate cost of $1,800 annually) and the town could make a
contribution to the organization annually to cover the cost.
Harris noted that individual airplane owners also carry insurance, covering the airport in
While talking with the town's attorney, however,
Hawkins said it was suggested the town get out of the agreement with the county to lease the
airport property and turn it all over to the Pilots Association.
"There are pros and cons to that," said Hawkins.
Currently, the airport is listed as a private airport, meaning there can be no commercial
operations on site and airplanes must be invited to land there.
"My opinion is different from the attorney," said Harris. "I think we should want to maintain
control, leasing it from the county, so we still have control as a town as to what goes on up
there. If we shed that, we not only lose control, but some of the prestige that goes along with
having an airport in town."
Alderwoman Sherri Raby agreed.
"It may provide us opportunities, even if it's later on down the
road," said Raby.
City Recorder David Bookout said there was
good and bad no matter how you look at it.
"My opinion would be
for the town to get out of the agreement and just let the Pilots Association and the county handle
it," he said.
The discussion was tabled until the October
meeting for members to mull over the situation and make a decision.