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Branson Airport will get partial payment from City of Branson

November 23, 2010|by Linda Russell, KY3 News | lrussell@ky3.com

BRANSON, Mo. -- An ongoing feud over dollars between the City of Branson and the privately owned Branson Airport was the hot topic at the Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday night.  The city is trying to put together its 2011 budget.  At issue is its agreement to pay the airport $8.24 for every passenger that flies into the airport.  The city no longer wants to pay that money.

Some say the city can't afford it, or that the contract is flawed, but others believe the airport should be receiving what Branson agreed to pay it.  So far the airport is only getting paid for part of what it says it's owed.

The majority of the crowd at the Board of Aldermen meeting were airport supporters.

"The airport can bring new visitors to the area that we couldn't reach otherwise," said resident Mary Ann Wilson.

"The community has been tremendously supportive.  We've had lots of groups as well as individuals come out," said Branson Airport Executive Director Jeff Bourk.

The Branson Airport asked for $670,000 to be appropriated in the 2011 city budget, and for an ammendment to the 2010 budget to include $260,000.  

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"So far there has been no appropriation included to pay the contracts the airport has with the city of Branson," Bourk said before the meeting.

The city says the contract gives it the freedom not to pay if the city doesn't have the money.  Some aldermen believe the city can't afford it, or even that the contract is flawed.

"I support the airport.  I do not support the transfer of tax dollars to any private activity, no matter how glamorous it may be or appear.  There are many worthwhile causes in our area that need funding.  I do not feel the Branson Airport is one of them," said resident Dr. Mike Heinz.

By the end of the meeting, aldermen agreed to cover the airport's existing bill of $257,000 and then some.  For supporters at the meeting, it's a step in the right direction. 

"Instead of reaching out to other alternatives, deal with what you have.  That's the path of least resistance, and it's the path that's going to take you to the higher levels," said Wilson.

The city administrator offered three major modifications to the budget, including some planning and zoning cuts and a reduction in subsidy to the Branson Convention Center.  Those changes came up with $265,000, which aldermen voted to apply to the 2010 budget to cover the airport's 2010 bill of $257,000. 

The city has not yet appropriated any money for the airport in the 2011 budget, but will re-visit the issue again in 2011.  Their next bill from Branson Airport comes in April.
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News release from Jerry Adams, spokesman for City of Branson:

Aldermen approved increases in the fees charged by the Taney County Health Department for inspections in the City of Branson. The inspection fee increases will be in the areas of food service; massage and body art establishments; swimming pools and animal establishments.  The health department will also enact a new restaurant re-inspection fee for more than one repeat visit.  It’s expected the health fee increase will bring in about $39,000 annually in additional revenue.  This is the first health department fee increase in four years.

In the fire department, fees for certain fire-related permits will be increased an average of $50. This is for things like firework sales and firework displays, open burning and commercial blasting.  The additional revenue for these fire permit increases will be about $5,100 annually.  These fees have not been increased since 2001.

In the planning/development department, there will be fee increases in building plan reviews, building permits, building inspections, and a new fee for voluntary annexation applications. Some of the building department fees have not been increased since 1997.  And the new building fee increases will bring in about $16,000 annually.   

In the parks department, the daily site fee for the Lakeside RV Park will go up from $25 to $30 and for the super sites to accommodate the larger RVs, the daily rate increases from $30 to $35. This bill will also give the parks and recreation director more authority to adjust facility rates and program fees as he or she feels necessary to make the programs self sustainable.

In the utilities department, the deposits for new residential water customers will increase from $25 to $50.  For new sewer only residential customers, a new deposit of $25 will be required. 

 For new commercial water customers, there will be a minimum deposit of $75, and for sewer only commercial customers, the minimum deposit will be $34.50. For commercial customers, the water and sewer deposits will be refunded with interest when the accounts are closed and up to date on payments. 

Approval given for amendments to the fats, oils and grease (FOG) management program for restaurants

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