Unanimous Decision By Georgia’s Supreme Court Clears Path For Paulding County’s Airport Economic Development Plans

DALLAS, GA, June 30, 2014 — The Georgia Supreme Court today handed down its decision in favor of Paulding County regarding the issuance of bonds to pay for the widening and extension of the airport’s taxiways. In its unanimous decision, the court ruled that the County and the Airport Authority acted properly in regard to the issuance of the bonds.

“We were confident that the rules and regulations in place, ones that have earned Paulding the designation of a ‘Certified County of Ethics,’ - would endure,” said David Austin, Chairman of the Paulding County Board of Commissioners. “It is therefore good to see that the highest court in the state has validated our procedures. However, it is unfortunate that a small group of citizens, seemingly backed by outside private interests, have cost our taxpayers unnecessary money in defense of this as well as other frivolous lawsuits.”

Thus far, the County, the Airport and the Industrial Building Authority have won every legal challenge brought against them in their efforts to grow Paulding’s economy. By leveraging the more than $50 million dollars in federal and state funding that Paulding County received to build Silver Comet since 2005, the County is positioning itself to create jobs, increase the quality of life for its citizens and ensure the development of its economy for future generations.

“It’s a shame that we have had to waste precious funds to defend these lawsuits, especially considering that we have always followed the letter of the law,” said Blake Swafford, Airport Director at Silver Comet. “The real loser in this decision is not those opposed to the airport, but our local economy which would be benefiting by now. Instead, this delay has added to the cost of the bonds and has delayed a much needed economic development project that our community needs.”

The taxiway widening and extension has been completed because of loans from both the Paulding County Commission and the Industrial Building Authority. With today’s decision, the bonds will be sold by the Airport Authority and used to refund these two loans.

With today’s decision the court ruled that:
1.The contract between Paulding County and the Airport Authority qualifies as an enforceable intergovernmental agreement.
2.The bond issuance did not violate the Lending Clause and the Gratuities Clause of the Georgia Constitution.
3.The County provided sufficient public notice.
4.The Airport Authority did not violate the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

“We continue to move forward with this important economic development initiative for Paulding County even in the face of seemingly unlimited financial backing – presumably by Delta Air Lines – for those few people opposed to this,” said Austin. “Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta recently said that he just wants a ‘level playing field’ during testimony to Congress regarding the Export-Import Bank’s assistance for sales of Boeing aircraft to foreign airlines. Apparently, his definition of ‘level playing field’ varies depending on the situation.”

Today’s Decision:
Case Number: S14A0792 Case Style: ANTHONY AVERY et al. v. STATE OF GEORGIA et al.