Silver Bay debates usefulness of airportSome Silver Bay City Council members met with Rep. Jim Oberstar to discuss the fate of the Wayne Johnson Silver Bay Municipal Airport.
Some Silver Bay City Council members met with Rep. Jim Oberstar to discuss the fate of the Wayne Johnson Silver Bay Municipal Airport.
About 95 percent of its funding comes through grants while the rest is from the city. It costs Silver Bay about $10,000 a year to run the facility using no city employees. The city has received a total of $71,000 from the state and more than $1.5 million from the federal government.
If the city decided to close the airport, it may have to pay back grants it received for the facility since 1967.
Mayor Scott Johnson said he met with Oberstar to try and come up with ways where the city wouldn’t have to pay the money back, if it closed the airport sooner rather than later. Johnson said his goal was to close it in the next three to five years.
“We have very little usage by the city of Silver Bay,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Oberstar had given ideas for better usage of the airport, such as more publicity about the facility. Johnson suggested to Oberstar that Silver Bay turn the airport over to the federal government. “He listened,” Johnson said about Oberstar’s reaction.
Johnson said the main discussions with Oberstar focused on how Silver Bay can get out of paying about $1.5 million if it were to close the airport.
A preliminary levy increase of 4.9 percent was passed for next year. The city can go down from the figure, but not up. Much of the increase is due to vehicle replacement, which the city had delayed for a number of years.
The council approved joint ownership of a billboard across from Northshore Mining on Highway 61. It will be owned by some local businesses as well as the city. At one time there were discussions on who owned the sign. Organizations wanted to clean up the sign but couldn’t until they knew who owned it.