Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington City Council Reject Regional Governance of Burlington International Airport

Report finds under the City’s governance the Airport has continued to thrive, and the overall value of the Airport estimated at $1.04 billion

Burlington, VT – Tonight, the Burlington City Council voted unanimously to affirm the current ownership structure of the Burlington Airport, which is a municipal department of the City operating as a separately reported enterprise fund. The vote followed a presentation by Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood of a report produced by her office in January of 2020, which lays out the history of the Burlington International Airport and addresses questions of regional governance. The full report 40-page report including an executive summary can be found here.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, who prior to his election served on the Burlington Airport Commission for 9 years, directed the City Attorney’s Office to write the report in 2019, and emphatically supports the City Council’s actions, releasing this statement:

“The City Attorney’s report is a comprehensive and well-written document that should be seen as the definitive answer to the questions about airport ownership and governance. As a result of the investment by the people of Burlington and strong governance by the City, the Burlington International Airport has grown and thrived for 100 years, and is well-positioned to continue to be a driver of regional prosperity and innovation for decades to come.”

The report’s key findings include:

· The study documents that "substantial investment into and support of the airport by Burlington taxpayers over the ninety-nine years since it was dedicated. While much of Burlington’s investment occurred in the first 30 years of the Airport’s history, indirect support continues to this day.” (p.1)

· “Under Burlington’s governance and operational support, the Airport has continued to thrive, serving more than 1.3 million passengers in 2018 and contributing more than $480,000,000 to the regional economy. From its initial 72 acres, it has increased in size to almost 942 acres. Including its current asset value, the Airport is estimated to have a value to the region of $1.04 billion.” (p. 2; Note: Even during the pandemic, the Airport has continued to grow. The report was completed before the recent announcement that BETA Technologies, an electric aircraft manufacturer, wishes to build a 270,000 square-foot facility at the Airport that would provide hundreds of more high-quality jobs for Burlington residents.)

· “While the details of governance models vary, BIA’s current governance structure—a municipal department within a general government entity operating as a separately-reported enterprise fund–is a widely accepted and reasonable governance model, squarely within the range of the municipally owned models adopted by about half of the airports in the country. Almost all of these municipally owned and operated airports were founded by the municipality and have remained in municipal ownership throughout their history (excluding during wartime when federal authorities may have taken them over).” (p. 2)

· Issues and concerns that have been raised by elected officials from municipalities that neighbor the airport could be addressed “without risking the disruption and cost of complete restructuring, [through] more targeted changes within the current structure.” (p.3)