The Chandler City Council is faced with weighing conflicting advice about whether to join the Williams Gateway Airport Authority.
The city’s 15-member Economic Development Advisory Board voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend joining the authority, with the understanding that the city would have a chance to opt out each year and that the council would consider the estimated $350,000 annual contribution’s impact on the entire city budget.
“I think it’s bigger than the dollars,” said Becky Jackson, Chandler Chamber of Commerce president who sits on the board as a nonvoting member.
She called the recommendation a move to make sure Chandler’s at the table when it comes to regional airport issues.
The recommendation comes the same week Phoenix officials announced their city would put up $5 million to join the partnership running Williams Gateway, which saw its first passenger flights take off last month.
Other members of the partnership are Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek and the Gila River Indian Community.
Recommending against Chandler joining the partnership are the city’s airport commission and the city’s economic development director, Richard Mulligan
In his report to the council, Mulligan said “any economic benefits that are realized will be regardless of whether the city becomes a contributing member or not.”
The city would not likely gain any clout in airspace development issues with membership, according to Chandler’s airport manager, Greg Chenoweth.
The Federal Aviation Administration ultimately makes all decisions on airspace issues.
Municipal and public input on those issues typically come through participation with aviation organizations, such as the Phoenix Airspace Users Work Group, public hearings and through contact with the state’s congressional delegation.
“This demonstrates that there currently is a venue for Chandler to provide input to airspace issues regarding the (Williams Gateway Airport Authority),” wrote Chenoweth in a memo to Mulligan.
The council is expected to discuss the issue at its May 11 meeting.