TUPELO – Uncertainty remains whether the Tupelo City Council will even consider today a $1.2 million request from the Tupelo Airport Authority to upgrade the airport’s taxiway.
Tupelo Regional Airport executive director Josh Abramson asked the council during Monday’s agenda review to add the request from the airport to the agenda at today’s meeting. However, questions remain over a formal request for funding.
The City Council did not receive a resolution or other material to vote on. Mayor Jason Shelton said he and city attorney Ben Logan will discuss today whether the council should even vote on the request at today’s meeting.
“They did do essentially a letter request,” Shelton said.
That letter was discussed during a Sept. 30 work session between Shelton, the City Council, airport authority members and a representative from Universal Asset Management, a company that salvages and recycles aircraft at the airport.
During the meeting, skeptical council members asked UAM to consider footing the bill for part of the upgrades, which would allow the company use of more taxiway space.
The council had previously voted to spend a fraction of that amount on a small part of the taxiway but postponed the work after the airport authority and UAM leadership asked city officials to consider spending more money.
In exchange for the taxpayer-funded expense, UAM has pledged to spend $29 million in the city through salaries and benefits, supplies and purchases and utility costs, along with spending $700,000 in capital costs at the airport. The area the airport wants upgraded was last improved in 1963.
Abramson said he has not had a response from UAM leadership related to a city request to the company about sharing the $1.2 million capital costs.
At least one council member has publicly said he plans to vote against the funding request.
“It’s very disconcerting that UAM is not willing to discuss any type of compromise on this issue,” Shelton said.