Travelers arrive at Ontario International Airport in Ontario in July 2014. (File photo)
By Liset Márquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 08/04/17 – 8:20 PM PDT |
ONTARIO >> Two former top Ontario administrators have been given lucrative contracts aimed at improving the future development of Ontario International Airport.
The Ontario International Airport Authority has long expressed interest in using revenue from proposed land redevelopment — at least 500 acres on and around the airport – to offset landing fee costs for airlines to be able to expand flights or do business at the airport.
Former San Bernardino County CEO Greg Devereaux and former Ontario City Manager Chris Hughes will each earn $20,000 a month, or $240,000 annually, to provide their expertise in those fields for the authority.
At its July 26 meeting, the authority signed two three-year contracts worth $1.4 million, which promises to pay either consultant the full-term of the deal even if the contract is terminated after six months.
“There’s a lot of complexities at the beginning stages of local control that requires someone like Devereaux and Hughes’ involvement, given their prior knowledge on the topic,” said commissioner and San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman.
As the then-Ontario city manager, Devereaux initially led the charge to take back the airport until 2010 when he was appointed San Bernardino County’s chief executive officer. Commissioners now want to rely on his vast knowledge in real estate and land development, Hagman said. Hughes was at the helm of the battle for local control until he retired in 2013 and will now be integral in working with airlines to grow air service.
Earlier this year, the commission failed to come to a consensus with the then-CEO on what to do with 147 acres of undeveloped property.
Now Devereaux will be tasked with not only developing a plan for that property but advising the airport’s governing body what it should do with the unused parcels in and around the facility.
“I don’t want to look at anything in isolation,” Devereaux said by phone Wednesday. He said he plans on asking the board in the very near future “what they want to achieve, and what are their clear goals and objectives.”
The contracts did raise concern with at least one airport commissioner, Ron Loveridge. He initially took issue with the fact that contracts were placed on the consent calender, which meant the contracts would have been approved without discussion.
“We’re talking about an important decision for the airport, and I thought we needed a full discussion,” he said, speaking by phone Wednesday afternoon.
The former mayor of Riverside, Loveridge said he has “confidence and respect,” for Hughes and Devereaux but was miffed by the lack of details in the staff report and instead proposed a one-year contract with the opportunity to extend the deal the following years.
According to Hagman, the authority based its contract on the existing contract Devereaux has with the county.
Hagman said he isn’t concerned this new role will present a conflict of interest for Devereaux.
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