Stockton Airport – Board of Supervisors Review Governance

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Supes look at reorganizing Stockton Airport
By Ross Farrow
The Lodi (CA) News-Sentinel

STOCKTON – San Joaquin County has operated Stockton Metropolitan Airport since 1956, but the Board of Supervisors will consider whether to reorganize how the airport is governed in an effort to give the greatest public representation and efficiency. The board is taking advantage of being without an airport director to consider a reorganization of the airport’s staff and governance. The airport’s future was discussed at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting and supervisors were hesitant to take the airport out of their control. “I would never support giving up governance of the airport,” Supervisor Leroy Ornellas said. In a survey of other counties, the county’s Human Resources Department found that 22 of 30 California counties that responded to San Joaquin County’s inquiry have county-operated airports. Four have city-operated airports, and one – Alameda County – has its airport operated by the port authority that runs the Port of Oakland.

County Administrator Manuel Lopez recommended keeping airport operations in the Board of Supervisors’ hands so that he and the board can continue to monitor the airport’s recent growth. He also said any decision on the matter would likely come a few months from now.

The airport has grown significantly in the past two years through added passenger flights to Las Vegas and the Phoenix area, though air service to Phoenix will be suspended from July through September before resuming in October.

Additionally, the Board of Supervisors approved several long-term leases that require tenants to construct aviation-related buildings on airport land. And in February, the board approved the master plan for the Airport East Business Park, which will attract an estimated 14,000 jobs to the county, Lopez said.

In a related matter Tuesday, the board directed its Human Resources Department to recruit for an airport director to replace Barry Rondinella, who left in 2007. Steve Hicks is the interim director. The process is expected to take three to four months.

Lopez said it will cost the county about $30,000 to recruit candidates since the county stands to pay for transportation and lodging when applicants are interviewed.

Supervisor Steve Gutierrez said he doesn’t want to circumvent the normal hiring process, but he wouldn’t want to spend $30,000 if the board decided that Hicks had done a “stellar” job and deserves the job.

How other counties run their airports

  • Stand-alone department: Sacramento, Tuolumne, Yuba, Kern, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino.
  • Within county public works department: Alpine, Mariposa, Sutter, San Mateo, Marin, Lake, Humboldt, Lassen, Mono.
  • Within county department of transportation: Sonoma, Mendocino.
  • Within county administration department: Calaveras.
  • Within agriculture commissioner’s office: Colusa. roads and airports department: Santa Clara.
  • Within general services: Solano. Airports not county operated: Stanislaus, Placer, Butte, Shasta, Alameda, Fresno, Kings, Tulare.- Source: San Joaquin County

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