The Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport is at a crossroads, and I don’t mean Crossroads Boulevard.
“Fort-Love” as pilots call the airport — or so I heard at a recent city council meeting — is about to go through a major transformation, at least in how it is governed.
Officials hope that change will lead to bigger and better things for the airport, including shoring up its finances and making it more agile when it comes to doing business.
The airport has been jointly owned and operated by the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland since 1963. It has operated under a variety of governance structures over the years, with the most recent being a steering committee made up of the cities’ managers and mayors.
The steering committee has had no authority over airport operations. Decisions on business matters required approval by both cities’ councils.
Since the wheels of government move slow, and the councils of Fort Collins and Loveland don’t agree on every issue, that governance model has proven to be problematic. So the cities will try a change.
A seven-member commission made up of representatives of both cities and citizens will take up the job of directing the airport manager and approving business deals, including contracts and service fees charged by the airport.
The thinking is things will happen quicker, which is expected to be good for the airport. Combined with a new strategic plan for the airport recently approved by both councils, the commission is expected to shape the future of the facility and the development of its 1,000-acre property.
The airport faces some serious financial issues. Because it no longer has scheduled commercial service, Fort-Love is scheduled to have federal grants that helped fund its operations and capital improvements reduced from $1 million per year to $150,000 in 2015.
The state is also cutting back its grant funding for the airport, affecting the facility’s bottom line and how it might make up that revenue.
The governance model and the strategic plan were approved by the Fort Collins council last week. The next step is for the airport to develop a work plan for implementing its strategies.
Both cities hope the changes in direction for the airport will help it fly financially on its own.
Kevin Duggan is a senior reporter. Follow him at Coloradoan Kevin Duggan on Facebook or @coloradoan_dugg on Twitter.