City of Missoula Seeking to Annex Local Airport
The City of Missoula has begun attempts to annex the Missoula International Airport. According to Airport Director Chris Jensen, discussions on the city assuming the property began on Monday and annexation appears likely, if the city wants to press ahead.
"Our first formal meeting to discuss it was just this week," Jensen said. "I will tell you that back in 1985 the airport signed an agreement with the city when the city began to provide sewer service to the airport and that agreement stated that when the city was ready to annex the airport, the airport wouldn't contest it, so, long before my time, that agreement was made."
If the City annexes the property, taxes currently paid to Missoula County would be redirected to city coffers. Because the airport has its own fire, police, and maintenance personnel, the city would not have to extend those services to the airport, even things like potholes would continue to be handled by the airport.
"When you have an aircraft that's landing at 120 miles per hour, potholes are totally unacceptable," Jensen said. "We are responsible for all pavement out here, so not just the runways and taxiways, but all of our own roadway system too. I mean, we would love to have the city plow our roads and fix our potholes, but we have our own public works department and the city has no desire to take that on, I mean, they are already stretched in maintaining their own streets."
Jensen says there is one big complication: the airport is currently in a Missoula County Tax Increment Finance District and, because of that, Jensen expects that no annexation will occur until July of 2018. If Missoula does annex, the airport will have to adopt their remodel efforts to conform with Missoula building codes and regulations.