Kerrville airport board pursues direct role in hiring next manager

KERRVILLE -- Schreiner Field's next manager may report directly to the board running the airstrip to buffer potential turbulence between its owners -- the city and Kerr County.

Spurred by Dave Pearce's resignation after four years of running the facility, the airport board last week voted unanimously to renegotiate its management contract with the city.

Jonathan Letz, the airport board chairman and a county commissioner, wants the new manager to be hired by the board and be directly accountable to it, instead of remaining an employee of the city.

"I didn't want the city to go hire a new airport manager before this issue is resolved," said Letz, who praised Pearce but said accountability and communications issues were a concern.

Pearce left July 6 to work in New Mexico, and Bruce McKenzie, a city street supervisor, is now interim airport manager.

Scott Gross, a city councilman and airport board member, expressed confidence the management contract can be recast to address the county's concerns.

"I think the county people will be absolutely delighted" when the airport board meets next on July 24, he said.

But details remain to be worked out, said City Manager Paul Hofmann, who doesn't want city staff under the supervision of a contractor.

"I'm studying the mandate and how to extract from our organization the airport manager and make it work where the airport manager is giving direction and working with city employees on a contractual basis and not on an employee-to-employee basis," he said.

Pearce questioned the need for change, citing the accomplishments during his tenure, including a new terminal building and other upgrades, and increased revenues from airport operations.

"The bottom line is, if you're meeting or exceeding all of the objectives, what is it that we're trying to fix?" he asked.