Council votes on airport, Cheapside

mku@herald-leader.comDecember 5, 2008 

The Urban County Council on Thursday approved a resolution asking for state Auditor Crit Luallen's help in examining the finances of Blue Grass Airport.

The council approved the resolution by a 12-3 vote. Council members Dick DeCamp, Jay McChord and David Stevens voted against the measure.

Airport board chairman Bernie Lovely has pledged to cooperate with Luallen, who plans to meet with airport representatives and an audit team to define the scope of the audit and a time line for completion.

Articles published in the Nov. 23 Herald-Leader revealed that airport Executive Director Michael Gobb spent more than $200,000 for trips and other expenses from January 2006 through March 2008.

The expenses are in addition to Gobb's salary of nearly $220,000 a year, plus benefits that include unrestricted use of an airport SUV, unlimited gas, home Internet and cell-phone service costing more than $6,000 a year, and club memberships worth thousands of dollars.

A Herald-Leader survey of the travel and training expenses of top officials at airports with passenger counts similar to that of Blue Grass showed that Gobb's expenses outstrip all of them.

In other city business, the council unanimously approved the permanent closure of Cheapside to vehicular traffic.

Cheapside is a one-way, one-block street between West Short and West Main Streets on the west side of the old Fayette County Courthouse, now the Lexington History Museum.

The street closure is being done at the request of merchants and property owners who want to create a more pedestrian-friendly area. Before the closure was made permanent, Cheapside was closed for a trial period between Aug. 28 and Nov. 1.

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