YAKIMA, Wash. — In what one county commissioner likened to a no-fault divorce, Yakima County on Tuesday renounced its half interest in the Yakima Air Terminal and turned the whole operation over to the city of Yakima.
The transfer, effective immediately, ends 30 years of joint ownership that commissioners and the City Council came to realize wasn’t the best structure to run an airport, commissioners said.
Commissioners signed a quit claim deed for the 825-acre airport on West Washington Avenue and all airport facilities and equipment.
“The Yakima Air Terminal faces many challenges. Governance needs to move quickly, efficiently and decisively to take advantage of opportunities,” Commissioner Rand Elliott said. “The structure doesn’t allow that. One owner is the best way to advance the interests of the airport.”
Commissioner Kevin Bouchey said the switch is not an indication of disagreement between the two governments.
“The issue is not the city or the county, but what is in the best interests of an important asset,” Bouchey said.
Elliott said the joint ownership structure was cumbersome when it came to leasing airport property and making decisions on litigation.
The transfer eliminates the air terminal board of directors that oversees airport operations under the auspices of the city and county.
Elliott said he anticipates the city will create a committee of citizens with interests in the airport to advise city management.
The airport operates on a $1.1 million budget the city and county must adopt annually.
As a part of the transfer of all assets, the city and county will split the cost of a $40,000 operating loss the airport experienced in 2012.
Commissioners took action following a public hearing at Yakima City Hall. No one offered testimony.
The Yakima City Council earlier this month voted to end the joint operating agreement and take over total management of the airport.
• David Lester can be reached at 509-577-7674 or firstname.lastname@example.org