ST. CLOUD — The Federal Aviation Administration transferred on Friday the governance and all assets of the St. Cloud Regional Airport from the city of St. Cloud to the St. Cloud Regional Airport Authority.
The move is part of a joint effort between the city of St. Cloud, Benton County, Stearns County and Sherburne County, which make up the St. Cloud Regional Airport Authority.
Leaders in the St. Cloud area have worked for years to move airport oversight away from the city to a regional authority. The goal was for the airport to be self-sustaining and require no property taxes, as well as better serve businesses and travelers.
"This airport has been successfully operating for a long time thanks to the staff and the folks that have been working here. But now we're at the opportunity to go into new horizons, new heights, new opportunities from a regional perspective," Mayor Dave Kleis said. "This has been a municipal airport that's operated as a regional airport for a very long time, but really never had the regional resources, the regional entrepreneurship, the market-driven way of doing things."
Kleis said the airport has always been funded regionally, through a half-cent sales tax and with help from the federal and state government.
In the future, he said air service out of the airport will continue to be successful and drive economic development locally.
"This now becomes a new chapter in transportation and in aviation for the city of St. Cloud," Kleis said. "This will be St. Cloud Regional Airport, owned by the community."
The St. Cloud Regional Airport Authority is composed of two selected commissioners from each county, two from the city of St. Cloud and one at-large member, with the sole purpose of governing the daily operations and further development of the airport, said Sherburne County appointee and Board chair Brian Myres.
The city of St. Cloud will continue to support airport operations for the next 10 years through its existing airport levy, and local option sales tax funding will continue through 2038, Myres said.
"Additionally, federal Cares Act funding and additional infrastructure funds will be available to invest in our airport over the next several years," he said. "We're not only doing this, but we're doing it at a time when there's substantial funding available to invest in the airport, which is really exciting."
Myres said the Board will continue to seek ways to add more destinations, corporate jet travel and commercial flights to the St. Cloud Regional Airport to boost the economy and improve transportation options in the region.
The airport was built in 1970 and served mostly general aviation or charter aircraft flights until 1993, when the airport started serving commercial flights.
Becca Most is a cities reporter with the St. Cloud Times. Reach her at 320-241-8213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @becca_most.
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This article originally appeared on St. Cloud Times: St. Cloud Regional Airport transfers authority from city of St. Cloud