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"Boca Raton, FL suing to stop airport tower cuts"

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Boca Raton Airport suing to stop airport tower cuts
Sequestration cuts slated to cut staff May 5
By Anne Geggis
The Fort Lauderdale (FL) Sun Sentinel

Boca Raton Airport's will lose federal funds for staff at its control tower
on May 5, so the Airport Authority's emergency meeting Wednesday resulted in
a unanimous vote to sue the federal government to keep the money coming.

The airport is one of 149 general aviation airports around the country
slated to lose federally contracted control tower staff due to so-called
sequestration cuts. Most of the crowd that came out to Boca's emergency
meeting pleaded with the authority to make a commitment to replace the
$650,000 to $700,000 in federal funds about to get axed.

"Make a definitive statement that this tower will not be closed for one
day," said Jim Costa, director of the Boca Raton Pilots' Association.

But Airport Authority Chairman Frank Feiler said that was not the purpose of
Wednesday's meeting. On the table, whether to take legal action to force the
Federal Aviation Authority to continue to pay for the six staffers who make
sure that the 50,000 flights a year there get live guidance, instead of an
uncontrolled field.

Airports such as North Perry in Broward were among the first to face tower
closure on April 7, but Broward County stepped in with $43,000 a month until
the federal budget situation becomes clearer. If Boca's suit fails to get a
stay against the planned cuts, then the Boca Raton Airport Authority will
meet next on April 17 to discuss ways to keep the tower open, Feiler said.

"This board is fully aware of our responsibility to keep the tower
operating," he said.

The board, presented with the options of joining other airports that are
suing the FAA, starting its own, or doing nothing, decided to file it's own
suit. The suit will probably then be consolidated with the other airports'
legal action in a court in Washington, D.C. But counsel Dawn Meyer warned
them that it was a long-shot to keep the cuts from happening because of the
federal government's discretion in budget matters.

"There's very little chance of permanent success and a limited chance of
temporary success" in suing for a stay against the federal cuts, Meyer said.
"As things are now you have no chance of success."

The board's vote to have a stand-alone suit was unanimous. They also agreed
to ask the state attorney general to sue against the cuts that will also
affect airports in Miami-Dade County, Ormond Beach, Naples and Punta Gorda.

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