County, management company agree on airport contract

McDONOUGH — County leaders agreed Tuesday on 30 years of contracts for AvPORTS Management LLC to manage Atlanta South Regional Airport in Hampton.

The agreement — three deals of 10-year contracts — contains an out clause that would allow either side — AvPORTS or the incoming members of the Henry County Board of Commissioners to terminate the contract within 60 days of new board taking office in January.

“This is not a rush to judgment by any means, but this board was also elected,” said Reid Bowman, District IV commissioner. “By saying so, I’m going to make a motion to accept the contract as it is, with the new information that allows the board 60 days to look at everything, and if they want to terminate, then they have the procedure by which to do that.”

The board passed that by a vote of 3-2.

Last week, commissioners unveiled a plan for AvPORTS to manage operations at Atlanta South Regional Airport over the next decade.

Prior to that 3-2 vote, county manager Fred Auletta proposed a more permanent agreement that would allow AvPORTS to manage a runway expansion and provide a full-management period for the airport.

Auletta said construction on the runway is scheduled to be completed before the 2013 NASCAR race at AMS.

Phase 2 of the runway expansion would create an additional 500 feet of length and 100 feet of width by Sept. 1, 2017. The full-management period would begin then and be in effect for three 10-year terms unless the agreement is canceled by the county or by AvPORTS.

Under the proposed agreement, the county would pay AvPORTS $50,000 annually to manage the airport during the runway expansion. That money would come from airport surplus profits and not from the county’s general fund, said Auletta.

He added that AvPORTS, and not the county government, would be responsible for any losses incurred by operation of the airport.