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Thu, Apr 20, 2017

FAA: Fort Lauderdale Used Airport Funds Illegally

Agency Claims City Used $5 Million From Executive Airport To Support General Fund

The FAA has sent a letter to the city of Fort Lauderdale, FL accusing the city of illegally using some $5 million in funds from its Executive Airport to support the general fund, and it wants the money to be repaid.

The Sun Sentinel newspaper reports that the FAA began looking into the situation following a news report last year of fees paid to the city for fire and police services, infrastructure maintenance and other services in lieu of property taxes at the city-owned airport. The airport was ceded to the city by the federal government after WWII.

The letter, written by the FAA’s director of airport compliance, Kevin C. Willis, says the agency "has made a preliminary finding that there has been unlawful diversion of airport revenues."

City Manager Lee Feldman said that he thinks that in the end, the final accounting "will be pretty much a wash" and the city will not be liable for any repayment. He wrote in a letter to the FAA in November of last year that the city has always believed that the payment and methodology was "acceptable" to the FAA.

Because of the concerns raised by the FAA, the city has stopped the transfer of funds for the current fiscal year. 

The city has been transferring funds for the past 18 years, but the FAA is only allowed to seek reimbursement for the past six years, which would total about $5 million, according to the report.

The city is considering hiring a special counsel for $150,000 to assist in negotiations with the FAA.

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