TUPELO – Tupelo City Council members seemed skeptical Monday of a $1.2 million request to reconstruct a portion of the city airport’s taxiway, a problem council members thought they solved a month ago with a fraction of the cost.
Tupelo Airport Authority executive director Josh Abramson formally made the request to City Council members on behalf of the airport authority, which believes the city help is necessary to keep Universal Asset Management, the largest private tenant at the airport, from leaving.
Abramson requested the city back and pay for a 10-year loan from the Mississippi Development Authority to repair part of the airport. The loan would cost the city of Tupelo about $140,000 annually.
“This is outweighed by the contribution that UAM makes in the city of Tupelo,” Abramson told the City Council.
Along with the request letter, Abramson distributed a three-year plan that showed UAM pledging 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.
A month ago, the City Council voted to spend up to $107,675 for emergency repairs at the airport, hoping to satisfy short-term repairs needed by addressing part of the taxiway. UAM officials did not find the offer acceptable and met multiple times with city leaders in closed session about footing the bill for much more expensive upgrades.
TAA member Rocky Miskelly said UAM officials have said the company would likely leave the city if upgrades weren’t made.
The City Council is expected to meet in closed session later this week to further discuss the request.