, Corbin, KY

November 20, 2013

Williamsburg-Whitley Airport Board trying to get finances under control, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

An airport manager — that’s one of the first things to seek for the Williamsburg-Whitley County Airport Board of Directors, according to Board chair Tim Mays.

But that won’t happen until the airport’s finances are under better control.

Mays explained that during a recent meeting of the airport board, Don Stricklin, a former IRS agent who has been hired as a bookkeeper for the board, broke down the numbers for the board members.

“There were some unaccounted for monies,” Mays said Tuesday. “But we’re not trying to dump everything at the feet of the last board.”

He said that Stricklin’s analysis of the numbers was very detailed — and that the problems uncovered with Stricklin’s review of the records doesn’t just point to one event.

“It was a string of events (that) didn’t get caught,” he said.

He said Stricklin was brought into the situation for two purposes.

“We’re all looking where we can generate new income,” Mays explained. “And we need to get a really good grasp of where every penny is spent.”

He said that reports to the city and county were due sometime in December, but that at this time, no independent auditing firm will review the financials.

Now that the board members have become acquainted with more solid numbers, Mays said it was time to get an airport manager hired.

“(We’re going) to seek the money to find a manager,” he said, adding that the manager would be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the airport facility.

Noting that the board members were volunteers, Mays felt an airport manager would be a better fit to improve monitoring the airport’s business.

One example he cited concerned fuel purchases at the airport. A minor contaminate in the fuel was noted at one point, which led pilots to other airports to refuel. While that problem has long since been resolved, an airport manager would have been able to note and fix the problem much faster.

But before a manager can be hired and in place, Mays said it has to be financially feasible for the airport.

“We’re getting back in shape,” Mays said. “We’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Steps have already been taken.

“We’re conserving cash where we can,” he said. “We’ve now increased fuel sales by lowering the price.”

He added that those prices often do fluctuate, just like automobile fuel.

More work from the board members is expected, Mays said.

“I find we now have a group of people whose number one interest is making the airport better for the sake of the county,” he said. “They understand this is a general aviation airport — and we want to make it better.”

He said the airport has seen growth and hopes both small and big changes expected will bring more growth. Currently the airport houses the county’s 911 Dispatch center, as well as Eagle Med and AirEvac.

“We want to serve (the public’s) needs and have them leave with a smile on their face,” Mays said.