01STOCK_COURTHOUSE_ROCKCOUNTY2

JANESVILLE

Appointees to the newly-formed Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport Board were announced last week after the Rock County Board voted to establish the committee in November.

County officials appointed five residents and three county board members to sit on the stand-alone committee, which is the only county committee that will be predominantly made up of non-county-board members.

A sixth resident seat remains unfilled after an appointee withdrew their name from consideration last week. The county-owned airport was previously under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Committee.

County ordinances prevent committees from having more residents than board members. The board excluded the airport board from that ordinance when it voted to form the committee Nov. 15.

County board member Brent Fox, who is appointed as the committee’s chairman and was instrumental in its formation, says having a majority of residents and airport stakeholders on the committee will ideally bring a jolt of economic development and invite more corporate airplanes and hangars to the airport.

“I’m hoping that they (the appointees) bring some perspective to the committee that … is fresh and more community-focused,” Fox said. “We’re going to try to facilitate an atmosphere that will foster that type of environment. We can’t invent it. All we can do is create an environment that is inviting for it.”

Fox said the airport currently has space for about 20 large corporate-type of aircraft. He said he hopes to at least double that space over the next five years, which would increase revenue from fuel flowage fees. He said the committee likely will not try to lure commercial airlines, though the airport is licensed for commercial flights.

The committee is authorized to spend up to $25,000 without approval from the full county board. County Board Chairman Russ Podzilni, who said he had the final say on the committee’s appointees but took suggestions from Fox and county administration, said the committee will be diligent with spending.

“Some of the people I selected for that committee will be very strong advocates of responsible budgeting,” Podzilni said.

The county board will vote to approve the appointees at its meeting Thursday. Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said the committee’s first meeting is tentatively scheduled for noon Jan. 22 at the airport.

An ad hoc committee studying the airport’s long-term viability recommended forming the airport board last year. A study published by the committee wrote that the airport supports 237 jobs, generates $65.2 million worth of total economic activity and accounts for more than $1.06 million in visitor spending.

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