ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud City Council has given its approval for creating a Regional Airport Authority.  The vote during Monday night's meeting is the next step in the process of transitioning the St. Cloud Regional Airport from being a city-run facility to one that is operated in a joint effort by the three counties of Sherburne, Stearns and Benton as well as the city.

Council Member Mike Conway says he's very excited for this opportunity to grow the airport and potentially attract more commercial air traffic.

Council President Jeff Goerger called in a great opportunity many years in the making.

With the help of a state grant, an Airport Optimization Study was conducted starting back in 2017 and was concluded in January of last year.  The study determined the St. Cloud Airport has an annual economic impact of $44.2 million in the tri-county area, supporting 289 jobs.

An Ad Hoc Committee was created in June of last year to help create a joint resolution.

The Sherburne County Board of Commissioners approved the regional airport authority in December, Benton County Commissioners approved it in January, and Stearns County Commissioners gave their approval earlier this month.

With the city council's action, application materials will now be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for review and comment.  The approval process can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

The city will continue to provide property tax support to the Airport Authority for up to a period of 10 years.  Additionally, the city will continue to invest in the airport's capital needs with half-cent sales tax dollars up to $200,000 a year through 2038.

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