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Taxpayers lose in efforts to halt airport bond sale, both sides say
by Tom Spigolon
tspigolon@neighbornewspapers.com
July 01, 2014 01:45 PM | 1160 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Both sides in Monday’s Georgia Supreme Court ruling that Paulding properly issued bonds to expand its airport’s taxiway said the taxpayer was the ultimate loser in the effort.

Charles McKnight, attorney for the Paulding residents who sought to invalidate the bonds, said in a news release he likely will ask the state court justices to reconsider the case.

“We’re obviously disappointed in the outcome and believe it to be incorrect, so we’re likely to ask for reconsideration,” he said.

The court upheld the validity of a $3.6 million bond issue by the Paulding County Airport Authority for widening the taxiway to 50 feet at Silver Comet Field to permit commercial jet service.

Justices also said the airport authority did not violate the open meetings law before signing agreements with Silver Comet Partners and gave proper notice for its meetings

McKnight said the bonds, if issued, would be secured by a “purported” intergovernmental contract with Paulding County which obligates county taxpayers to pay the debt service on the bonds.

“This is neither the first nor the last battle against Paulding County’s ill-considered plan to introduce commercial air service at the Paulding Airport,” McKnight said. “If Paulding taxpayers of the county are going to foot the bill for this commercial airport, they should be asked via referendum, not face a debt they did not approve, in a process tainted by secrecy.”

He also referred to the recent county primary elections in which voters chose anti-commercialization candidates to fill three seats on the county commission beginning in January.

“It is unfortunate that county officials continue to ignore the clear message sent by Paulding voters in the May 20 elections,” McKnight said.

However, airport director Blake Swafford said in a separate news release that it was “a shame that we have had to waste precious funds to defend these lawsuits, especially considering that we have always followed the letter of the law.”

“The real loser in this decision is not those opposed to the airport, but our local economy which would be benefiting by now. Instead, this delay has added to the cost of the bonds and has delayed a much needed economic development project that our community needs,” he said.

David Austin, chairman of the Paulding County Board of Commissioners, said it was “good to see that the highest court in the state has validated our procedures” in issuing bonds and dealing with an airport tenant that sought to attract a commercial airline to the airport.

“However, it is unfortunate that a small group of citizens, seemingly backed by outside private interests, have cost our taxpayers unnecessary money in defense of this as well as other frivolous lawsuits,” Austin said.

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