Feb 20, 2012 9:29 AM by AP
MONROE, La. (AP) - Monroe Regional Airport is the only commercial airport in the state that doesn't have an independent board or airport authority to oversee its operations.
The News-Star reports the airport's former director believes an independent board could more effectively manage its operations.
The City Council years ago decided to retain control over the airport.
But Cleve Norrell, who was fired from his post in November, says an airport authority could help the facility operate more efficiently and take politics out of oversight of its operations.
The Monroe Regional Airport once had an advisory board, but it was eliminated several years ago by city officials, said Dwight Del Vines, the city's economic development officer.
"In effect, the City Council is the board for the airport. The airport manager reports to (public works director) Tom Janway who reports to the mayor," Vines said.
Ron Phillips has taken over airport operations on an interim basis since Norrell's termination.
Many regional airports have boards representing the entire region, not limited to the city, Vines said. Monroe has never such a board.
That's because city officials have preferred to retain authority over airport operations and funds.
The city in the early 2000s turned down a suggestion by former U.S. Rep. John Cooksey, who had pushed for the city to have an airport authority so it could obtain up to $50 million in federal funds to establish an intermodal transportation facility.
Cooksey proposed an authority that would have included one member selected by the Monroe mayor, one selected by the mayor of West Monroe, one member selected by the mayor of an outlying municipality and one by the Ouachita Parish Police Jury.