Sunday, August 15, 2010 – 11:00 am
It’s time for the former Norton Air Force Base reuse agencies to come clean with their finances and end the shell games.
The matter of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority and Inland Valley Development Agency recently misleading everyone into thinking Million Air actually spent $30 million to build the transit refueling facility pretty much takes the cake.
When in actuality the facility was built with taxpayer dollars. Million Air doesn’t even possess a direct ownership interest.
Frankly, no major aviation business with serious credentials has any direct participation in what limited activities occur at the airport.
One local newspaper, The Press-Enterprise, appears to be slowly figuring out this mess.
It’s time for a real audit to be conducted by an outside arms-length firm. Rogers Anderson Malody and Scott doesn’t exactly fit the definition of an arms-length firm. Especially when you consider San Bernardino International Airport Director Don Rogers was a partner there.
Over the years, area residents have been treated to relentless stories of phantom airlines and other businesses set to arrive. All those stories appear to be wishful thinking at best, or even worse, lies.
As a matter of fact nothing of any import has ever materialized.
The only beneficiary of taxpayer dollars, to the tune of millions, is Scot Spencer. Spencer operates SBD Aircraft Services and several other business entities at the facility, most of which are supported entirely by government dollars and subsidies.
Spencer has a contractual stronghold on the airports main hangar facilities. Thereby giving Spencer tremedous leverage over the airport authority. Leverage he has used in the past.
Airport officials continuously present budgets to the various city and county politicians sitting on the San Bernardino International Airport Authority board.
These so-called budgets presented to this board of directors actually list projected income from air operations in its revenue numbers. And yes, these politicians really do approve the ridiculous assumptions.
They don’t ask any questions, but instead act like lap dogs.
The Inland Valley Development Agency, the recipient of millions in annual property tax revenue, is forced to subsidize the airport and its lack of activity with its own valuable funding.
Funding that is needed to clean up and rehabilitate the surrounding area. In other words, the entire redevelopment area. Not just the former base.
The current mayor of San Bernardino, Patrick Morris, like his predecessors, continues to blabber about an airline coming to the airport this year.
Realistically speaking, San Bernardino International Airport is on its way to becoming a caretaker facility. Officials should at least have the guts to admit it.
The current and likely prolonged economic downturn will prevent any other outcome.
However, there’s no other choice but to preserve the approximately $150 million taxpayer investment in the airport. In the hope that something will materialize a few years down the road.
Even as a caretaker facility, San Bernardino International Airport will consume millions just to maintain.
It’s time for the “pie-in-the-sky” stories to stop.