Miss. city may pull support of Mound, La. airport

Published 3:29 am Sunday, October 5, 2008

The city of Vicksburg may be pulling its support for the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport.

The city currently owns 25 percent of the airport in Mound, La., and shares expenses for basic operations with Warren County, Tallulah and Madison parishes in Louisiana. However, a 25-year contract signed by the local governments in 1983 expires this year.

Participation has cost each owner $20,000 to $30,000 per year. Most of the regional airport’s operating income is derived through fuel sales, hangar rentals and user fees.

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Instead of renewing the contract, the city may reduce its commitment to the airport to about 10 years, said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

“My objective is to walk away from VTR and focus on Vicksburg Municipal … unless (VTR) can come up with a comprehensive business plan and show me what kind of economic development benefits we are getting out of the deal,” Leyens said.

The city has speeded up work at Vicksburg Municipal Airport, which was restored to the Federal Aviation Administration’s list of airports eligible for grants last year. Along with a new fire station, city officials plan to remodel the airport terminal in the next 18 months.

Benny Terrell, Vicksburg’s appointee to the VTR board, said another meeting is being arranged with the four owners about the Vicksburg’s desire to shorten the term of the contract.

Construction of VTR, about eight miles west of Vicksburg, grew out of a study on whether Vicksburg Municipal could be improved. That study revealed FAA grants were available for new construction of regional facilities, and elected officials then saw it as an opportunity to get an all-new, expandable airport to replace Vicksburg Municipal, built in 1950.