Paulding residents Susan Wilkins and Anthony Avery last week moved to intervene in the legal approval process required for a $3.6 million bond issue — alleging the county government and the board that oversees operations of Silver Comet Field airport conducted an illegal hearing on bonds that obligate county taxpayers to a project that only benefits a private company.
County attorneys denied the charges and maintained they do not apply to the strict confines of the bond validation procedure.
“The role of the trial court in a bond validation hearing is to determine whether a bond proposal is sound, feasible and reasonable,” attorney Tom Cable Jr. wrote in documents filed in Paulding Superior Court.
“These matters have been addressed in the pleadings to this case. All other matters are not properly before the court.”
Cable, attorney for the Paulding Airport Authority, stated the court should consider such issues as proper security for the bonds or whether proper public notice of the validation hearings was given.
Wilkins and Avery are outspoken opponents of Silver Comet Terminal Partners LLC’s plan to offer commercial passenger service at the five-year-old facility, formerly named Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport.
In their motion, the Paulding residents said the court should deny validation of the bond since the bond contract is not a legal intergovernmental agreement between the authority and county because it allows the airport authority to “sell, lease or give away all or a portion of the project at any time and without consent of Paulding County.”
It also violates the state constitution because it is an impermissible “lending of credit of Paulding County to a private entity” and “gratuity flowing to the benefit of a third party,” the document stated.
Bond validation also should be denied because the airport authority violated state law after it illegally closed parts of meetings to the public, according to the document filed by the pair’s attorney, Charles McKnight Jr. of Atlanta.
Silver Comet Terminal Partners announced in early October it had leased part of the airport six miles west of Dallas with plans to recruit an airline to offer up to two passenger flights a day.
Some area residents moved to block the plan – saying the November 2012 lease was done out of public view and would adversely affect the county’s quality of life.
Paulding resident Candi Goldman, who operates a blog and Internet radio show titled “The Ponytail Patriot,” said she agreed with Wilkins and others objecting to the secretive nature of the proposal.
“I’m not opposed to the airport expansion,” she said. “I’m opposed to why it was done in a closed session.”
She noted officials with Silver Comet Partners had tried unsuccessfully to bring passenger service to an airport in Gwinnett County in 2012. However, public opposition prompted county commissioners there to deny the plan.
“They didn’t want to deal with [Paulding County] voters asking questions,” Goldman said.