Report questioned management
Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/13/2011 07:59:18 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Airport officials on Wednesday continued to push back against a scathing Grand Jury report that casts doubts on whether they are properly managing the transformation of the former Norton Air Force Base.

“During the process of our review (of the report), we located significant factual errors,” said Donald L. Rogers, interim executive director of the airport, at a meeting of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority board. The SBIAA – a joint powers authority composed of the county of San Bernardino and the cities of San Bernardino, Colton, Loma Linda and Highland – is responsible for redeveloping the aviation portion of the former air base.

The San Bernardino County Grand Jury says in its report the airport has engaged in questionable practices related to finances, construction management and how it awards developer contracts.

In response, the airport authority board says that during its next few meetings, it will correct what it believes are errors throughout the report.

Those meetings will lead up to an official response to be drafted by Aug. 30.

“There are clarifications that should, we feel, be made throughout this process,” said Mike Burrows, the airport’s assistant director. At Wednesday’s meeting, Burrows gave a presentation outlining the SBIAA’s initial reactions to the report, among which are:

Although the report included a performance audit by San Francisco-based Harvey M. Rose Associates, no tests of performance “were ever conducted, nor were any measurable comparisons presented as to management performance or as to financial comparisons.”

The audit states the opinion of its authors without providing substantiated information.

There are multiple errors and misstatements that need to be corrected.

Among the supposed errors tackled first, the SBIAA says the audit is wrong about the airport’s terminal design being altered by a developer’s aggressive passenger projections and “assertions of prospective air carrier requirements.”

Burrows said the decision to start the terminal renovation project was in 2006.

He also said work was based on a master plan prepared by HNTB, an airport consulting firm, that predicted more than two million passengers would go through San Bernardino International Airport by 2023.

A June 2006 workshop presentation to the SBIAA and its sister agency, the Inland Valley Development Agency, which oversees redevelopment of the non-aviation portion of the former air base, included the interim use of the terminal, with a $100 million investment, and a future mid-field terminal with an investment of $341 million, Burrows said.

He said that after the workshop, direction was given by the SBIAA board to consider renovating the outdated terminal.

Burrows then disputed the audit’s finding that the airport has “poor budgetary controls.”

He outlined a series of steps he said the airport takes to ensure proper handling of funds and payments to contractors, including the use of a fund control firm to oversee the inspection of work, and to disburse payments only after the proper signatures are obtained for detailed reports of work and transfer documents.

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