WATKINS — Adams County’s Front Range Airport will become a county airport, commissioners announced Wednesday during a special public hearing.
Commissioners said they hoped the change would help stem losses at the airport and attract aviation industry experts.
The resolution approved Wednesday dissolves the Front Range Airport Authority Board that includes two people in addition to the county commissioners.
No employees will be dropped in the switch, and interim director Ken Lawson will now report to county manager Todd Leopold.
“This will help streamline the county’s services and give it a more stable economic and brighter future,” said County Commissioner Eva Henry.
The airport east of Denver International Airport is operated through an enterprise fund, meaning the county can only provide up to 10 percent of the budget, and the rest must be self-generated.
But, struggling with dwindling users, the airport has been losing money and routinely asks the county for subsidies.
A report presented in October by the county’s internal auditor found that the airport is losing at least $184,000 annually.
Leopold said the county will still operate the airport through an enterprise fund but said that being able to use county resources instead of contracting for technology, human resources, and road and bridge operations should lessen the need for subsidies.
The airport is also the state’s selected site for Spaceport Colorado, a statewide initiative to create an aerospace hub to attract commercial space development and create a horizontal launch pad for transport.
“This is about capitalizing and diversifying the airport’s current business strategy,” Leopold said. “We’re not only looking at Spaceport but the offshoots. We will be looking at other research and development opportunities. General aviation has other niches.”
The commissioners plan to create an advisory panel to provide recommendations.
“Right now we are limited to who we can have on this authority,” said Commissioner Chaz Tedesco, referring to the previous requirement that airport authority board members reside in Adams County.
Colorado is home to a variety of large employers and industry experts, he said, and “We want to bring in that talent. We want that type of advice.”
The county will post a request seeking members for the new advisory panel next week.