County, Opp won’t pay July airport debt

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Covington County and Opp won't pay the July debt of the airport bond issue. | File photo

Covington County and Opp won’t pay the July debt of the airport bond issue. | File photo

The City of Opp on Monday voted to withhold the $9,000 portion of the monthly payment toward the airport bond issue debt it has paid in recent months.

Mayor John Bartholomew told the city council that the South Alabama Regional Airport Authority now has the funds to pay the debt service on the bond issue since it entered into a contract with the Kearns Group LLC.

The Kearns Group is paying $25,000 a month for space at one of the twin hangars at SARA.

“I was talking to (County Commission Chairman) Bill Godwin and he said the commission is reserving the right to not pay their portions of the bonds in July,” he said.

The council agreed.

Godwin confirmed that Monday night, adding that the situation is no different than in recent months.

“It is no different than when DRS was paying $45,000 per month (for the lease),” he said. “When they don’t have enough money, we make up the difference. This month, they have the money.”

Godwin said the payment isn’t due until July 22.

SARA Co-Director Jed Blackwell said the Airport Authority would be cutting it close to make the payment without funds from Opp and Covington County.

“We have some money from previous months,” he said. “And we may have to cut into airport operations. “

In 2006, the cities of Opp and Andalusia and the Covington County Commission entered into an agreement in which they secured bonds for the airport. The bond was structured so that lease payments for the facilities the bonds were used to build would pay off the note.

The three local governments are responsible for payments when lease payments don’t cover the note.