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Tue, Jun 14, 2011

Lawrence, MA Mayor Accused Of Misuse Of Airport Funds

Mayor William Lantigua Allegedly Siphoned Money To City General Fund

The FAA is looking into allegations that Lawrence, MA, Mayor William Lantigua siphoned off money from the city's municipal airport (KLWM) for use in the city's general fund, and compromising safety at the Lawrence Airport in the process.

Lawrence, MA Mayor William Lantigua

The funds Lantigua is suspected of misdirecting had been earned by the airport largely from hangar leases and rents paid by tenant companies, but the Andover Eagle-Tribune reports that when the city budget was passed last July, the mayor had cut the airport budget by 16 percent to less than half a million dollars. By zeroing out the airport's maintenance crew, an $85,000 surplus was created, which was diverted into the city's general fund ... a violation of federal law.

The move placed federal funding for the Lawrence airport in jeopardy, and the FAA requested an accounting of the airports financial ledgers. The mayor reportedly produced those on May 11th.

As a solution to the issue, the Lawrence city council placed airport funding into a special enterprise account which would place funding for the airport out of reach of the mayor and council, though they will still set the budget for the facility. It also increased the airport's budget by 8 percent for  FY2012, though the budget document does not include details as to how revenue will be generated.

The FAA says it is continuing its investigation into the airport's finances. New York-based FAA spokesperson Jim Peters said the agency is taking action to "ensure that the city understands its obligations as sponsor of the airport."



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