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Benton approves airport advisory board, doing away with former overseers

By Rick Hayes
Contributing writer
updated: 11/22/2017 9:17 AM

Citing the need for a "fresh start," Benton Mayor Fred Kondritz is interviewing potential candidates to become members of an advisory board for the Benton Municipal Airport.

During the most recent city council meeting, an ordinance was created organizing the Advisory Board, essentially dissolving the former seven-member Airport Board.

"It was never meant the airport should be run by a board. It should've been taking all those suggestions and ideas and giving them to the council," Kondritz said late last week. "When I came on as mayor I kept asking about the previous minutes (of the board) and never received them. They (board members) had a hard time finding them. That's what spurred the whole situation causing a breakdown between the council and the board. The council should be responsible for what goes on at the airport. The council was never informed of what was going on at the airport."

Although the council or mayor didn't address it while approving the ordinance, another likely factor in its passage was an attorney general's opinion recommending decisions regarding the airport be made by the council through an advisory board.

Kondritz said the decision to make the change was based on a meeting with officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division. Kondritz, attorney Tom Malkovich and Finance Commissioner Dennis Miller attended that meeting.

Miller, who is currently on the seven-member board, is not likely to be on the new three-person advisory board.

"The council deemed it necessary many years ago that the finance commissioner be on the board. I don't know where that came from but I think we need a fresh start of people that have no history with the airport," Kondritz said.

Kondritz said he would name his appointments at the next council meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

"It's less likely there won't be any current members. It just depends on how our interviews go," Kondritz added.

The mayor said he would like to see the new board recommend constructing a new administration building at the airport and provide certification for drone usage and individual drone operating certifications.

The new advisory board will meet on a quarterly basis with meetings in March, June, September and December. Board members will be appointed to four-year terms at the first council meeting in May following every four-year municipal election cycle, the ordinance states.