Airport board (dis)solution
The legal nuts and bolts of the airport board dissassembly
March 27, 2019
The Saratoga Airport Board as it has been known for the past 41 years is no more.
During the most recent meeting of the Saratoga Town Council, Resolution No. 2019-05, titled “A resolution of the governing body of the Town of Saratoga, Carbon County, Wyoming, dissolving the Saratoga Airport Board,” was introduced, read and passed by a vote of 4-0.
Mayor John Zeiger was not present during the last meeting as he was in Riverton, an absence announced during the March 5 meeting. The Saratoga Sun spoke with Zeiger, who said that he had told the council that the resolution and ordinances could be introduced in his absence or during the April 3 meeting, but that he left it up to the council members to decide.
The first two paragraphs of the resolution passed on Tuesday night reference Saratoga Municipal Code 14.08.120 and Wyoming Statute (W.S.) 10-5-203, both of which dictate the action needed by a governing body to dissolve an airport board.
Under 14.08.120, the code reads “after two years have elapsed from the date of the establishment and creation of the airport board, the board may be dissolved and discontinued by resolution of the town council in a regular and public meeting. Within 90 days after the passage of a resolution dissolving the board, the board shall proceed to terminate the affairs of the board. After payment of all obligations, any money remaining under the control of the board shall be credited to the general fund of the town.”
W.S. 10-5-203 reads almost the same, stating “any airport board, created under W.S. 10-5-101 through 10-5-204, may be dissolved by resolution of the municipal or county governing body in a regular and public meeting. No board will be dissolved within the two year period following the date of its creation.”
Following the passage of the resolution, Ordinance No. 850, 851 and 852 were introduced for first reading.
Ordinance No. 850, “An ordinance of the governing body of the Town of Saratoga, Wyoming repealing in its entirety chapter 14.08 of the Saratoga Municipal Code,” repeals municipal codes 14.08.010 through 14.08.150. Those sections, specifically, dictate the establishment, composition and the operation of the airport board.
With the proposed repeal of chapter 14.08, Ordinance No. 851 follows with a proposed rewrite of the code. Under this chapter, as it is currently written, the now dissolved airport board “is established with the purpose of providing control, supervision, maintenance, operation and expansion of that airport known as Shively Field.” With Ordinance No. 851, this would change the board to an advisory board and change its purpose to “providing recommendations to the Town Council on matters concerning long range planning, land use, and improvements.”
Another change under the proposed ordinance would be the membership of the airport board. Currently, the composition of the board includes “at least one of whom shall be a member of the town council upon appointment by mayor, at least two of whom shall be residents of the town and a maximum of two of whom may live out the Town of Saratoga municipal limits.” The rewrite adds “and a maximum of one of whom may be a hangar lessee.”
The biggest change will be the authority of the airport board. Under section 14.08.020, the code reads that the board is a body corporate “empowered to sue or be sued under the name and style of the Saratoga airport board, and shall automatically become the controlling administrative authority for operation, control, supervision and expansion of the town airport.”
With the introduction of Ordinance No. 851, that authority is changed. Under “powers and duties,” the proposed ordinance reads “the powers of the Saratoga airport advisory board shall be advisory only.” It also lays out the proposed responsibilities as follows:
To review and recommend, on a regular basis, a long-range master plan and financing plan for the airport known as Shively Field, Saratoga, Wyoming;
To review and recommend to town council actions concerning lease rates, fees and annual budget for the airport;
To annually review and recommend to town council actions concerning the master lease documents;
To review and recommend to town council actions concerning any proposed lease that is significantly different than the master lease documents;
To review and recommend to town council annual goals and objectives for operation and development of the airport;
To review and recommend to town council actions concerning the airport rules and revisions thereto;
To review and recommend to town council actions concerning the airport minimum standards and revisions thereto;
To present to city council an annual report concerning the status of the airport;
To promote the awareness, utilization, and development of the airport pursuant to and consistent with the council-adopted goals and objectives, and airport master plan.
According to W.S. 10-5-101, the powers that had been listed to the airport board under the current town code can be performed by either a municipal government, county government or both. Under W.S. 10-5-202(a), it reads “the authority and powers granted by W.S. 10-5-101 through 10-5-204 and the control of funds named may be under the control of an airport board.”
Technically, the municipal or county governing body is the entity in control of the airport, but those powers are able to be designated to an airport board.
The third ordinance to be introduced at Tuesday’s town council meet pertained to the minimum airport standards for Shively Field. Under section 14.04.010, as it currently reads, the only minimum standards applicable are those approved and passed by the airport board on Jan. 9, 1978.
Ordinance No. 852 proposes to change 14.04.010 to read that adoption of the “Minimum Airport Standards of Shively Field” will be by resolution of the town council. The rewrite goes on that minimum standards adopted after Jan. 9, 1978 “shall supersede those passed and approved by the airport board on January 9, 1978 and shall be declared to be the law of the Town of Saratoga.”
The introduction of the resolution and ordinances likely came as a surprise to attendees of the town council meeting as they had not been discussed at any previous time in a public meeting. The Sun reached out to James Angell, former executive director of the Wyoming Press Association and open meeting law advocate, about the introduction of the four documents without prior public discussion. According to Angell, the introduction of such documents without prior public discussion does not run contrary to open meeting laws as set forth under Title 16, Chapter 4, Article 4 of the Wyoming State Statutes.
While the resolution and ordinances may not have been discussed in a public setting before their introduction, recent meetings of the town council have had concerns expressed by airport leaseholders about the airport board.
As was reported previously (see “Ambulance and airport” on page 1 of the Feb. 27 Saratoga Sun), leaseholder Andy Van Tol had asked the council if the airport board was independent of the town council during the Feb. 19 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council. Van Tol had been informed by Zeiger “there was still no answer at this time.” Minutes from the Feb. 19 meeting, published in the Sun on March 13, similarly state that Van Tol had asked the council about the authority of the airport board.
Two readings remain for all three ordinances following their passage of first reading. Due to the dissolution of the Saratoga Airport Board, no future meeting time or date is known. Should the ordinances pass the next two readings, a meeting of an airport advisory board may take place in May.