Victoria County Commissioners plan to discuss the possibility of having a third party analysis done of various governance options for the Victoria Regional Airport at Monday’s meeting.
“This is more looking down the road: how can we situate the airport best for the years ahead?” said County Judge Ben Zeller. “Increasingly, the way things have always been done really may not be the best way to face the challenges ahead of us.”
Currently, a separate airport commission has limited decision making powers, although ultimate authority over the airport lies with Victoria County Commissioners. There are a number of other possible governance models, though.
It would be possible to do a joint sponsorship, where the county and another entity or entities, such as the city, co-manage and operate the airport.
One option that has a lot of appeal, said Zeller, would be to bring the Port of Victoria and the Victoria Regional Airport together under one umbrella, where a single board oversees and manages the two entities.
“That has a lot of appeal because there’s a common mission and a synergy between the port and airport,” he said. “It’s transportation related. It’s commerce related. There’s a lot of similarities in mission and purpose.”
On top of that, the port is a taxing entity with a dedicated revenue stream.
There is also the option to do nothing, in which case full control and management of the airport would return to Commissioners Court by the end of next year. Under the terms of the airport commission’s charter, the airport commission will end at the end of 2022 if not renewed by Commissioners Court.
“I like the idea of it being under Commissioners Court,” said Zeller. “While the current arrangement has worked over the years, it does create some challenges. There is a definite limit to how far we can delegate responsibility to the airport commission.”
Commissioners also plan to discuss and grant approval for a formal application for the Operation Lone Star Grant on Monday. Operation Lone Star is a program announced by Gov. Greg Abbott that will provide $100 million in grant funding for enhanced border security operations in the state.
The Victoria County Sheriff’s Office is working on a budget for the application, so the exact amount the county will request is not known yet, but Zeller said he expects it to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The county plans to request funds to help cover the cost of new equipment, vehicles and a newly created position, which was approved in September to assist the Sheriff’s Office as it responds to a rising increase of border related activity, he said.