Less than a month before legislation could change the face of the Benedum Airport Authority, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Timms was appointed to the board.
Timms told Bridgeport City Council Monday he was officially appointed by the Harrison County Commission during its meeting this morning. The appointment apparently gives Bridgeport a voting voice on the BAA regardless of the status of legislation passed May 2 that would change the authority's makeup on July 1.
"We're going to have a seat regardless of how the legislation plays out," said Timms. "We've been pushing for a seat, which is something that was promised to us some time ago."
According to Timms, the city was promised to have the next vacant position on the BAA after agreeing to provide up to $290,000 in funds for infrastructure development at the airport. Timms said the agreement is included in copies of the authority's meeting minutes but, until Monday, was not officially acted upon.
Timms said more than one seat has been vacant in recent months without action by the BAA. He said he sent a letter to the HCC two weeks ago asking for the promise to be fulfilled.
However, Timms' appointment could be moot if the new legislation passes an upcoming challenge in court. The legislation changes the BAA from an 12-member board with 10 voting members to one with 11 voting members.
The legislation also changes the appointments from being done exclusively by the Harrison and Marion County commissions -- the joint owners of the airport --to being handled with several appointments. Under the new legislation two appointments each will come from the Harrison and Marion County commissions; automatic appointments would be the Bridgeport city manager, the executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex (MAAC), the secretary of the Department of Transportation and the president of Fairmont State College. MAAC, the airport's marketing agency, would also have two appointments, with the final appointment coming from the state Council for Community and Economic Development.
Members of the BAA have blasted the legislation, saying it takes away local control and was passed without their knowledge. Proponents of the legislation -- House Bill 3252 -- said the change was needed in order to have diverse representation on the BAA, which was created by the Legislature.
On May 25, the BAA opted to challenge the legislation in court. The suit will be filed in Kanawha County, and Gov. Bob Wise and the state will be listed as defendants.
Harrison Commissioners Jim Smith and Roger Diaz, both BAA members, could not be reached for comment Monday evening.