Local leaders try anew to address airport jobs crisis
BY World's Editorials Writers
Friday, December 28, 2012
12/28/12 at 3:58 AM
On this one point local leaders likely will receive near-unanimous agreement from the community: The American Airlines bankruptcy does represent a major employment crisis for this region.
But how to address that crisis remains a topic of much debate.
Local leaders are in talks with airline officials and are moving ahead with another possible funding plan for saving the maintenance base at the airport. Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Tulsa Regional Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal say it's too early to predict what form "Plan B" will take, but it's obvious public funding is still on the table.
Last month, voters rejected the countywide Vision2 sales-tax extension plan, which included a $254 million economic development component that would have funded improvements to the facilities used by three tenants at the Tulsa airport: American Airlines, Spirit AeroSystems and IC Bus.
Officials say that some effort will be made to retain airport-based jobs, and there also seems to be agreement that a funding proposal for some of the improvements will be put forth in 2013.
Some ideas being discussed include state involvement and some of the tax revenue that would flow from a renewal of the Fix Our Streets initiative. Tulsa leaders are looking at holding an election on extending the streets program next fall.
It's not surprising that the street-improvements revenue source is being eyed; there are, after all, only a few revenue options available to the city. But city leaders run the risk of sinking the entire streets effort if the package includes any proposed airport improvements that don't sit well with voters.
There's also still talk of a so-called deal-closing fund that supposedly would help lure business to the region - another proposal that also was unpalatable to voters.
If leaders want voters to pay for improvements to the airport and a deal-closing fund, they're going to have to do a lot better job of persuasion. A whole lot better.
Original Print Headline: Plan B