By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
Two of their own reported lobbying efforts to the City Commission in its March 19 meeting, including whether the city's airport tower will close.
Deputy Mayor Bill Partington and Commissioner Troy Kent presented reports to the commission, outlining results of their lobbying visit to Washington D.C. "Commissioner Kent and I had some good meetings, both with Senator (Bill) Nelson, Congressman (Ron) de Santis and Mr. Sanchez from Senator (Marco) Rubio's staff," Deputy Mayor Partington said.
"At this point we're in a wait-and-see mode on the control tower; the city has filed its appeal," he said.
April 7 is the day 149 airport control towers, including ones in New Smyrna Beach and Ormond Beach, will close nationwide. Since the commissioners' trip, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to shift funding away from conferences and capital projects, and funnel it towards the control towers to prevent them from closing. Financing for operation of the towers would still be cut 5 percent, like everything else for the Federal Aviation Administration.
"There seems to be a good deal of bi-partisan support for that and we're hoping there will be movement on that," Deputy Mayor Partington said.
The commissioners were reacting to concern over the result of the recent sequestration, which would cut some $600 million from the FAA budget.
Commissioner Kent said, "I too thought it was very productive. We made some great contacts. We helped plant some seeds for the city of Ormond Beach."
He got the impression that Congressman de Santis had not been fully briefed on the Ormond airport issue. Deputy Mayor Partington said he sent the congressman information about the situation.
"Within 15 minutes of leaving his office, we received word that (Congressman de Santis) had received it and was on board with us," Commissioner Kent said.
Mayor Ed Kelley thanked the two city leaders for their trip to D.C. and for their accomplishments. "We might have to hire you as lobbyists, and save a little money on that," the mayor joked.