Fayette County

Airport board hires consultant in search for new executive director

The Lexington-Fayette Airport Board plans to use a local consulting firm, G. Alexander & Associates, in its search for the airport's new executive director.

Roszalyn Akins, chairwoman of the board's human resources committee, which recommended the firm at the regular monthly board meeting Wednesday, said details of the agreement still needed to be worked out. G. Alexander & Associates charges $125 an hour for its services.

"I'm not an airport expert, but I know a lot about our community," said Guy A. Huguelet III, president of G. Alexander & Associates. Huguelet previously operated Adecco Employment Services of Central Kentucky, which he ran for about 15 years until he sold it last summer. He said he has been involved in most of the major executive searches in the Lexington area over the past 15 years and that he has worked with corporations, from the largest to the smallest, non-profits and churches.

Huguelet said he hopes a new executive director will be selected by fall.

"I know that the airport has received a number of résumés that are being processed through the human resources department," he said.

Among those interested is Eric Frankl, who became the airport's interim executive director in February.

The executive director's position is one of several being filled in a reorganization that began after a spending scandal erupted several months ago.

Michael Gobb stepped down as executive director in January, as did airport directors John Coon, John Rhodes and John Slone, after a series of articles in the Lexington Herald-Leader about their spending of airport money.

An audit by state auditor Crit Luallen's office found more than $500,000 in questionable and unsupported expenses by seven airport employees, including the four who resigned, over a three-year period.

The airport board's latest hire, Don Sever, who was named the airport's deputy director of finance and administration earlier this week, was introduced at the board meeting.

Sever, now chief financial officer for the Kentucky School Boards Association, will make $105,000 a year in his new job, which starts June 1, according to airport officials.

Blue Grass Airport has spent tens of thousands of dollars on consultants since the spending scandal broke. The airport has paid APCO Worldwide Inc, a public affairs and strategic communications firm, $325 an hour for the services of David Wescott as an airport spokesman.

As expected, the airport board selected Crowe Horwath LLP to provide audits for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The airport had used Potter and Co. for audits for about 20 years. The state auditor's office recommended that the airport change auditors at least every fifth year.

For 14 consecutive years, Crowe Horwath has been ranked by Public Accounting Report as one of the top 10 public accounting and consulting firms in the United States. It maintains 25 offices throughout the country, including one in Lexington.

Crowe's clients include Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority in Indiana, Memphis International Airport and Nashville International Airport.

"The Airport Board has placed tremendous emphasis on researching auditors and seeking the best fit," airport board chairman J. Robert Owens said in a news release.

"We have worked aggressively to select an auditor with a strong reputation and an insight and knowledge of airport operations."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader