The city’s airport advisory board on Monday changed its recommendation on eliminating courtesy parking passes at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport.
Board members voted 10-1, with one member abstaining, to recommend to the Wichita City Council – which sits as the Wichita Airport Authority – to grant parking access proximity cards to city departments and a number of other groups, including elected or appointed government officials from the city and Sedgwick County.
The vote came during the advisory board’s monthly meeting Monday afternoon.
Board member and former advisory board chairman John Hennessey made the motion to change the board’s earlier recommendation, and member Thom Rosenberg seconded the motion.
Monday’s action reverses a recommendation by the board in November to end airport courtesy parking passes altogether. In that 6-4 vote, the board was meeting with two fewer members.
The 113 courtesy passes at the center of the action were held mostly by elected city, county and congressional officials and their staff members; local business leaders, including representatives of the chamber of commerce, economic development and tourism bodies; as well as current and retired aircraft industry executives.
The City Council, which has the final say in setting airport policy, was originally set to act on eliminating the courtesy parking passes in mid-November. But that item was pulled from the council’s agenda. It is scheduled to act on the earlier motion at its Jan. 12 meeting, airport staff members said Monday.
Although the City Council’s agenda for next week has been set internally, airport staff members told the board if it wanted to amend its earlier motion, there was still time for council members to see the amended motion.
Hennessey said after Monday’s meeting he made the motion because he was told in certain circumstances that council members traveling on city business were filing their airport parking fees on their expense reports, “and the taxpayer will pay double.”
“The taxpayer, in most cases, is paying on an empty stall,” he said.
Hennessey added that he thinks “the pendulum swung way too far” against issuing courtesy passes following The Eagle’s reporting on the issue last fall.
Board member Ron Ryan called the earlier negative reaction to the issuing of courtesy passes “juvenile” at Monday’s meeting.
The amended motion that the advisory board passed Monday recommends courtesy parking access cards for:
▪ City of Wichita (suggest two parking access proximity cards for each City department)
▪ Law enforcement/emergency service agencies; local post-secondary public education institutions; local nonprofit tourism or community development-related agencies
▪ Elected or appointed governmental or advisory boards of the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County whose purpose relates directly to the operation, promotion or improvement of the airport system.