FAA orders Oregon airport agency to give up leasing operations

SALEM — Under pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Oregon agency that manages 28 state-owned airports has turned over its property-leasing operations to state management specialists.

The Salem Statesman Journal reported Monday that the change follows the exit of Dan Clem as state aviation director in October 2009. At issue was a lease at the Aurora State Airport in Marion County that called for a company to do paving work instead of making payments for parking space.

The FAA supplies $150,000 a year to run the airport. It says the lease violated federal rules because it benefited the company at the expense of the airport. It ordered corrective action.

The state Aviation Department says the leases are now handled by the Department of Administrative Services, a major state operation in charge of grounds and buildings, information technology and human resources.

Doug Hedlund, interim aviation director, said in a letter to the FAA that the state still disagrees about the parking lease: The paving work has provided for additional aircraft parking, which will promote the use of the Aurora airport, the state's third-busiest.

But he said putting the leases in the hands of the larger department will ensure the "negotiation, review and enforcement of leases is transparent, standardized and methodical."

The FAA also slammed financial management of the Aurora airport, calling it "deficient at best."

Hedlund said that, as the FAA requested, he is reviewing all the airport's leases.

Besides its responsibility for operations and maintenance at the 28 state-owned airports, the Aviation Department inspects and licenses about 100 public airports and 300 private airports.

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