The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

September 1, 2013

Paying attention to lease talks

Among some great economic news for Greenville (Fritz Industries moving into old Newell-Rubbermaid plant, International Grains and Cereal moving to Greenville), the L-3/City lease negotiations took an important turn, one that has received little reaction from the community.

Regardless of how you feel about the lease negotiations or previous legal battles between the city and L-3 Mission Integration, one news item that came to light during the regularly-scheduled Greenville City Council meeting on Aug. 27 is very important.

The city council was supposed to receive an official appraisal of the airport, something considered a prelude to a proposed lease between the city and L-3, but the appraisal was not ready.

However, City Attorney Daniel Ray indicated that, regardless of the lease, one of the stipulations of the upcoming lease agreement would be that the lease payments made by L-3 would be dedicated toward the airport itself.

“All of that money must stay on airport property, period,” Ray said during the meeting. “There is no way around that.”

Which means that even if the amount of money L-3 paid each year increased, that money would not be used to rebuild local roads, make debt payments, etc.

According to Ray, this is a requirement of the Surplus Property Act of 1944, the act under which the Federal government transferred the airport to the city of Greenville. Ray said the previous lease did not meet FAA guidelines.

Currently, we don’t know what this means in the long run for the city. The city and L-3 have a non-disclosure agreement during the lease negotiations and the lease has yet to be presented to the council for a vote.

If the lease payment goes strictly toward the airport, will that free up additional city money for other expenses, since the city will have to spend less money on the airport?

But, considering a strong push by some in the Greenville community for L-3 to pay more per square foot than they did in their previous lease, this is big news.

If the lease payments are earmarked for the airport, the dollar amount attached to the lease becomes less important than the lease signing itself. Essentially, L-3 is going to be paying for the maintenance and improvement of the airport they operate in.

Which certainly will help the city, but is not the influx of cash into city coffers that some local residents were hoping for.

Again, the appraisal and lease have yet to go before the council, much less be approved. But Greenville residents should definitely be paying attention.

The opinion expressed here is that of the Herald-Banner editorial board. The board can be reached at editor@heraldbanner.com.

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