News12 First at Five/ Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Augusta, Ga (WRDW)----The search is on to find a new airport director for Augusta Regional. The current one says he wants to let his contract run out.
The Aviation Commission is already looking for his replacement. Augusta Commissioners are getting involved.
"It's hard for me to understand why anyone would get a $10,000 raise at one time," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.
Airport Director Gary Letellier is the highest paid in Augusta Richmond County. He makes around $160,000 after a $10,000 raise last month.
"If you want to be progressive and move forward. You have to have someone with the skill set that Gary has and then you have to pay them," said Aviation Commission Member Cedric Johnson.
Just last year, commissioners stopped just short of giving city employees a $1,500 raise. "The message to the other 2700 employees is damaging," said Smith.
Commissioner Donnie Smith wants to do something about it. Lettier is retiring soon and the Aviation Commission is looking for his replacement. smith wants the Augusta Commission to have the last word over the new contract which always has belonged to the Aviation Commission.
"The Airport Commission will recommend that and the Augusta Commission will have the final sat because we own the airport," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.
"The main thing is since we concentrate really on the airport. We have a better hands on feel of what needs to be done and how it needs to be done," said Johnson.
The Aviation Commission is made up of 12 members who are all appointed. They manage the airport on an enterprise fund that receives no local tax dollars. Meaning they generate what they spend. Their budget is between $40 to $45 million.
"Simply because you have money in the enterprise fund doesn't necessarily mean it's right," said
Reports show since Letellier took over airport ridership and revenue has increased. We're told he brought in more parking and a new runway ramp. Regardless his flight is heading out of town while some commissioners continue to chart the course on how to give other employees a raise as well.