The annual payments of $50,000 will not continue
By Andrew Harris
During a county Ways and Means meeting last week, District 4 legislator and Majority Leader Steven Havey made a motion to discuss the county funding for the Wellsville Municipal Airport with supplemental funding. Allegany County has contributed about $100,000 to the airport since a 2019 agreement.
All Havey heard was crickets as no member of the powerful committee was willing to second the motion.
Moments prior, another Wellsville/Andover legislator, Gary Barnes, had made an impassioned pitch to the committee on the importance of the airport and the county funding. Barnes is a past manager of the airport and owner of Wellsville Flying Service. The pilot and politician is not a member of the Ways and Means committee, and therefore had no vote in the matter.
Legislator Havey was of course disappointed in the decision to stop sending county money to the town of Wellsville. The Wellsville Sun asked Havey to explain his thoughts on the meeting and the halt to the funding:
“On February 16 a proposal for county support for the Wellsville airport was brought before the Allegany County Ways and Means Committee, of which I am a member. I have been asked for a comment on that meeting:
At that meeting Legislator Barnes gave a very informative PowerPoint presentation of the facility so any members that had not visited the airport could get a feel for the property. The airport proposal, asking for $50,000 per year to help fund an airport expansion project, was brought forward for discussion and I made the motion to discuss. My motion required a second from another member of the committee so there could be a discussion, but no second was found. With no second Chairman Harris moved on to the next topic, which is the correct procedure.
I guess the core of my comments would be that without discussion it is impossible to make an informed decision. I was disappointed that a discussion did not happen so that everyone’s opinion could be heard. I believe strongly that the Wellsville Airport is an Allegany County asset. It is unfortunate that it is not centrally located in the county, but it is, as you might expect, in the population center. It is a busy general aviation airport and answers the question “If I bring my business to Allegany County, where can we land our corporate plane?” We have all said that the county needs more economic development and an airport is a huge piece of that puzzle.
I know that many of my colleagues believe that this airport is a Wellsville asset and not worthy of county support. To them I would say, look at the big picture….look at the future of Allegany County . I think you will see that the Wellsville (Allegany County) Airport will be a big part in that future.”
The Town of Wellsville Airport committee chairman Michael Miller was disappointed in the decision but also re-iterated the town’s commitment to operating the airport successfully, and continuing the ask for the counties financial support.