Local News

Moore County Disbands Airport Authority Over Allegations

Posted May 21, 2002 10:57 a.m. EDT

— The Moore County commissioners have voted to dissolve the county's airport authority amid allegations of mismanagement.

The 3-2 vote Monday means the county will probably take over operation of the airport and the job of restoring airline service by July.

Airport Manager Michael Shouse, hired 10 months ago, said he expects to lose his job. He and two authority members at the meeting denied wrongdoing.

Commission Chairman Paul Helms was appointed to the authority in September after questions arose about financial problems.

According to a written statement Helms provided after the meeting, auditors investigated bookkeeping errors and alleged fraud at the airport. The authority paid utility and tax bills late, misappropriated money and did a poor job filing records, the statement said.

During the meeting, authority member Donald Delauter said the airport has been bombarded with new regulations since Sept. 11. Computerized financial records were nearly destroyed by a former employee, which has taken months to correct.

Shouse and the authority have worked with US Airways Express to restore service after CCAir, the sole carrier, pulled out in April.

Shouse said the vote was a mistake and puts in jeopardy $1 million in federal funding.

"Their timing is very poor given the loss of air service," he said. "The industry is a whole different ballgame, and I don't think they have a clue what's ahead of them."

Helms said the county ran the airport until 10 years ago.

"This is not rocket science," Helms said.