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Presentation to Marquette County Board of Commissioners
4 September 2001
1. I wish to address item 10a on the agenda, the Committee of the Whole recommendation to approve an operating agreement under FAA contract tower cost-share program to open the Sawyer control tower. I worked at K I Sawyer AFB for nearly 25 years, much of that time as a civilian auditor for the Air Force.
2. I am most firmly against activation of the tower at Sawyer. I believe it will prove a waste of the taxpayers' money and an unnecessary burden on future taxpayers.
3. I have read the Committee of the Whole recommendation and wish to comment on several items:
a. There is reference the control tower is key to the future economic development at Sawyer. I don't believe that is true now and I doubt it will be 10 or 20 years from now. I don't see the potential traffic out there that depends on Sawyer having a tower.
b. "By opening the control tower, airline safety at Sawyer will be greatly improved..." I question how so many airports in this Nation can operate safely without a tower, including our former airport near Negaunee for all those years. You have no proof it will be safer. Accidents happen at towered airports just as at untowered airports.
c. "Thanks to Senator Carl Levin and Congressman Bart Stupak, $300,000 has been appropriated for tower equipment" Well that's nice but this represents another of what I call the "Federal Dog Bone Act" whereby communities are given a monetary bone to get some project they really didn't need started, usually on a cost share basis. After all, how can you turn down "free money?" Well, sooner or later most of these communities find that they soon run out of the Federal and State dog bones and have to hit up the local taxpayers to continue those programs that really weren't needed in the first place. I see this as a classic example. Sawyer has a history of "unforeseen expenditures" and I feel this will be another of perhaps even bigger proportions.
d. Last but not least, is this proposal reasonable? Silly as it might be, the Maytag repairman ad comes to mind when I think of air traffic controllers patiently waiting for the few planes that fly in and out of here each day. I can't imagine spending hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars with so little current traffic and so little potential for future traffic. This tower activation proposal flunks my reasonability test with flying colors.
4. I ask you to disapprove this proposal to activate the Sawyer tower and not burden our current and future generations with a potentially large tax burden for something that is not needed. Thank you.
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