Are Branson officials flushing money down the airport drain?

When Branson residents flush their toilet they pay for it, but the opportunities for Branson residents to flush things away and pay doesn’t stop there. Without even getting to pull the handle on the stool, Branson residents get to pay $8.24 for every person getting off a plane at the Branson Airport who did not originally depart from that airport on their trip.

It’s actually kind of like flushing your toilet, the more you flush the more you pay. Well, the more passengers that fly into the airport the more the Branson residents pay. As a matter of fact, over the next 30 years, at $8.24 cents per passenger, $500,000 per quarter, and $2,000,000 per year that could  cost the residents of Branson $60 million dollars flushed away.

The requirement for the residents of Branson to pay the per passenger fee arises from a contract, created and entered into under the leadership of a past city administrator and the merry band of aldermen who, in the opinion of an Ole Seagull, did what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it. For example, they wanted to give the airport up to $2 million a year merely for doing what they said they would do in the first place with no public money and for just doing what airports are supposed to do, fly people in and out. So they did.

The first time the Ole Seagull saw the contract he was amazed at how one sided it was even considering the city leadership that authorized it. Basically, the residents of the city of Branson are obligated, in accordance with the contract, to pay the airport up to $2 million per year for the next 30 years without the airport doing anything other than run an airport. To an Ole Seagull the contract, more a gift from the city of Branson to the airport developers, is the most “unconscionable” contract he has ever seen.

In a general legal sense, a contract could be considered “unconscionable” if, among other things, it is so one-sided as to be considered oppressively unfair. In this contract one even wonders if the airport is obligated to do anything it was not already doing except collect the money from the city. It’s so ludicrous and one sided that if Visitor A and his Wife flew into the Branson Airport, even though they had been flying into Branson through the Springfield Branson Regional airport twice a year for the last five years, the residents of the city of Branson would have to pay $16.48 for the first and each subsequent time they fly into the Branson airport. That’s right folks each time, twice a year $32.96, twice a year for the next ten years $329.60.

The city has spent over $67,000 for legal reviews of the contract and, if published reports on those reviews are accurate there are legal problems and issues with the contract. Indeed, the city’s staff has recommended that no payments be made under the original contract until it is amended.

One of the newly appointed aldermen is quoted as saying, “We have an obligation like it or not. I have to stand up and honor the decision. The intent is to support the airport if funds are available…Don’t want to put out the message we don’t support their airport.” May an Ole Seagull ask, “What is there to honor and at what expense to the residents of the city of Branson?”  It was an unconscionable agreement from its inception, city lawyers have indicated its illegal and not paying the money indicates no more than the city is not going to allow its tax payers money be flushed down the drain in an illegal or unconscionable manner whether it’s paid to the airport or any another entity.

In an Ole Seagull’s opinion the word “honor” is dishonored when used in connection with the airport agreement. He believes there was no honor in its inception; can be no honor in any attempt to flush money from the residents of the city of Branson to the airport whether flushed directly or through some other legal entity in a pitiful attempt to circumvent state law and there is no honor if a legal and conscionable means is available to renegotiate a fairer more audit friendly contract and is not pursued to the maximum extent possible. As a starter, how about just paying the airport for the first time a passenger comes in and not every subsequent time?

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