Fayette County

Council enters airport fracas

A divided Urban County Council tentatively approved a request by Vice Mayor Jim Gray Tuesday to seek records from Blue Grass Airport regarding expenditures by several former airport officials.

Gray wants the council to file an open records request with the airport for copies of documents released to the Herald-Leader in recent months.

"This will allow us as public officials to confirm media reports," Gray said.

The council approved the resolution in a 7-5 vote, but it still requires two official council readings for final approval. That could come Feb. 26.

Former airport executive director Michael Gobb and three of his top lieutenants resigned in January after the Herald-Leader revealed the four had spent at least $532,000 of the airport's money on travel and other expenses in the last three years.

Councilman Jay McChord questioned why Gray wanted to submit an open records request on behalf of the council since Gray could file the request as an individual.

"An individual could do it, but the benefit would be to the full council," Gray said.

"It doesn't sit well with me," McChord said. "It looks a lot political."

Councilman Ed Lane, who is also an airport board member, questioned what the council would do with the documents. "Are we going to do an audit ourselves? It seems redundant. ... We already have the state auditor doing the report."

State Auditor Crit Luallen began reviewing the airport's expenses in December. It's unclear when Luallen's audit will be completed.

Luallen has six to eight people at the airport reviewing expenses, Lane said. The cost of the audit will be more than $50,000.

Once the council gets the documents it can decide what it wants to do with them, said councilwoman K.C. Crosbie. "I don't think this is political at all. We're just trying to get as much information as we can."

World Games agreement

In other city business, the council unanimously gave tentative approval to an agreement that details the responsibilities of the city and the World Equestrian Games Foundations during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Among other things, the agreement establishes a "clean zone" for selected advertising. Only official World Games sponsors would be able to advertise in a zone that includes a 4-mile radius of the Horse Park and the length of Newtown Pike for up to 30 days before and during the two weeks of the Games, which begin Sept. 25, 2010.

Dick Murphy, an attorney representing the outdoor advertising company Lamar Advertising, asked the council to involve Lamar Advertising in discussions regarding the clean zone.

The agreement still requires two official council readings for final approval. That could come Feb. 26.

Raven Run visitor center

The council also accepted a $500,000 donation from Friends of Raven Run to pay for the design and part of the construction of a new Tourist & Visitor Center at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary.

Design and construction of the facility is expected to cost $1.8 million.