City cutting ties to airport manager
FAIRMONT – Fairmont City Council voted Monday to terminate its contract with Five Lakes Aviation, effective Sept. 30.
The action comes at the end of the first full year of Five Lakes Aviation’s five-year contract with the city.
The council has been discussing the airport manager contract since April, when City Administrator Mike Humpal compiled a list of concerns for Five Lakes Aviation to address, from cleaning up the property to providing flight training school. Months later, according to city staff, the problems were not resolved.
Not wanting to step on the toes of the airport board, the council voted earlier this month to have the advisory board discuss the topic and present its recommendation.
On June 17, the board met for a special meeting and walked through the airport, but it provided no recommendation. While some members of the advisory board believed Five Lakes Aviation had made progress, Councilman Terry Anderson was not impressed.
“He’d not paid attention to what we’d asked him to do,” Anderson said.
The city administrator suggested three options for the council: to terminate the contract in 30 days, to terminate the contract in 90 days, or to continue to monitor the situation. In a 4-1 vote, the council chose to end the contract Sept. 30.
Councilman Darin Rahm voted no, preferring to end the agreement in 30 days.
“I think Al will be professional,” said Rahm, referring to Al Pelzer, Five Lakes Aviation proprietor, “but I don’t know any other position where they let you go and keep you on 90 days.”
Anderson also was nervous about waiting 90 days, and he wanted to make sure the city has some recourse should any damage be done before Sept. 30.
“My concern is for the airport and the people,” Anderson said.
The contract should cover Anderson’s concerns, according to City Attorney Elizabeth Bloom-quist.
“In the letter we send out, we will remind him he’ll need to fulfill his obligations under the contract,” she said.
By waiting until September, Humpal pointed out, the city will have time to search for Pelzer’s replacement, and the airport manager will have time to remove his personal belongings from the property.
“Change is hard, and this is a difficult situation,” Humpal said. “… Sept. 30 allows us flexibility to make this change successful for all of us.”
In other business Monday, the council:
o Voted to contribute $1,200 for the July 4 fireworks display.
o Approved the sale of $1.72 million in general obligation improvement bonds to finance 2013 street improvements.
o Approved a request from Martin County Historical Society to hold the annual Lakester’s Car Show on July 20 in the Southern Minnesota Education Campus parking lot. An adjoining portion of Elm Street will be blocked off.