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Voters Will Have Say on New Airport - Panama City, FL
- From: Colleen Turner <colleenturner@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 20:21:03 -0800 (PST)
Posted on Thu, Jan. 22, 2004
Voters Will Have Say on New Airport
Miami Herald, FL
PANAMA CITY - (AP) -- Bay County voters will be asked
during the March 9 presidential primary whether a new
airport should be built, but the nonbinding measure
will have some qualifying language.
County commissioners voted 3-1 to put this question on
the ballot: ``Do you favor future relocation of the
Panama City-Bay County International Airport at no
cost to the Bay County taxpayer?''
Relocating the airport is expected to cost state,
federal, city and county taxpayers more than $200
million, but officials expect to pay the local share
by selling the existing airport.
Florida's largest private landowner, The St. Joe Co.,
has offered to donate a 4,000-acre site northwest of
Panama City for the new airport.
The straw ballot result will not be binding on the
commissioners or a city-county airport authority that
will make the final decision.
Relocation supporters wanted commissioners to put
several questions on the ballot, while opponents
called for a simple yes or no.
Commissioner Jerry Girvin said the tax issue should be
part of the question because that is what much of the
opposition has focused on.
Newberry said the wording is designed to produce a
But Commissioner John Newberry voted against the
ballot question during Tuesday's meeting, saying he
opposed adding any ``contingencies.''
''I really don't want to have the referendum if it's
not a straight up or down vote,'' Newberry said.
Many opponents who have asked for a countywide
referendum object to spending any tax money on a
project they say will mainly benefit
Jacksonville-based St. Joe, which plans to develop
acreage surrounding the airport site.
Supporters, including Gov. Jeb Bush, say a new airport
will improve air service, stimulate the economy and
generate jobs in the Panhandle.
Runways at the existing airport are too short for some
types of commercial jets.
Airport officials say it would cost more to lengthen
the runways than to relocate because surrounding homes
and businesses would have to be bought.
Post your opinion on this story in the CAA General Aviation Forum
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