After buying airpark for $1, Goliad gets $3.6 million for it from Navy
July 10, 2013 at 2:10 a.m.
Updated July 11, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.
Goliad County officials settled their lawsuit against the United States government to the tune of $3.6 million to pay for the Goliad airpark.
The suit, which was in mediation in advance of going before a judge, was settled Tuesday, said Goliad County Judge David Bowman.
Goliad was forced to raise taxes and cut about $550,000 for the 2012-13 budget year because of a lower appraised value of Coleto Creek Power, the largest taxpayer in the county.
Bowman does not expect the value of the plant to increase and said this money will be good to have in reserves for 2013-14.
"I'm sure I will be getting a bunch of wish lists soon," Bowman said. "I am hopeful that we can use some of it for one-time capital projects, and I might be willing to use a little bit of it to bridge budget gaps. But I don't want to use a whole lot because we have to live within our means. And with recurring expenses - you have to be prepared to cover those somehow."
Built in the 1970s by the U.S. Navy, the airport was sold to Goliad County by the U.S. Navy for $1 in 2000.
Goliad Commissioners Court turned down a $2.36 million offer from the U.S. Navy to buy back the airpark in 2011, saying their own appraisal valued the property at $9 million. The Navy then declared eminent domain.
John Caldwell, a Goliad resident and retired U.S. Army pilot from World War II and U.S. Air Force pilot from the Korean War, believes the county should have accepted the original offer.
"I think we had one group of taxpayers suing another, and the only people who really benefited from it were the lawyers," Caldwell said. "I believe that if the people in the United States had all reacted like this in 1940 and refused to let our people get trained, we would all be speaking Japanese and German now."
He said he is glad the suit is finally over, but he is disappointed by the lack of patriotism shown in Goliad County since the conflict arose.
Opened by the Navy in December as an outlying field for Corpus Christi, the airpark is being used to train new pilots.
James Johnson, a Goliad resident and former member of the now-defunct Goliad Airpark Coalition, which fought against the opening of the Navy airport, said the county should have received more money from the Navy.
"I personally don't think it is fair. Obviously, the county's own paid appraiser valued it at $9 million. I am not surprised they settled; it was higher than I thought they would get through this process, but I don't think the county got the value for the property," Johnson said.
One concern of the coalition was noise pollution, Johnson said. Noise has not been a problem since the airport opened in December, he said, though he added the park is not yet fully functional, and noise pollution is still a concern for residents.
Representatives from the Navy were not reached for comment Wednesday, but Advocate archives show the U.S. Navy hopes to have 98 planes doing touch-and-go landings at the airport in the next two years.
Bowman expects the county to receive the total sum in about six weeks.