Airport director’s contract won’t be renewed; plan to pay back loan rejected

Chris Curry/ Collier County Airport Authority executive director 
 Stephanie Dowell/Post-Tribune

Photo by Stephanie Dowell

Chris Curry/ Collier County Airport Authority executive director Stephanie Dowell/Post-Tribune

It was a bad day for Airport Authority Executive Director Chris Curry.

Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to give him 180 days notice that his contract would not be renewed when it expires in September.

Curry did not speak, but others did, questioning the commissioners’ motives for the dismissal. They asked if it had something to do with the fact that Curry is black or because he was critical of Hiller and Nance after airport employees tried to flag down a vehicle they were riding in inside a secure area of the Immokalee Airport.

Nance said the decision was not personal.

“This is a decision made on business and business only,” he said. “Mr. Curry is not taking the airports where they need to go. This has been a decades-long failure that has been repeated over and over. And we will continue to operate at a loss with the business model we have now.”

That vote came after commissioners refused to accept Curry’s plan to reduce or eliminate the county’s annual fund transfer to the airports, which funds the airports’ budgets, and to pay back the county loan.

The Airport Authority owes the county $21 million, according to their figures.

Instead, they directed County Manager Leo Ochs to direct staff to work with Curry and Collier County Clerk Dwight Brock’s Office to reconcile Curry’s numbers with figures commissioners had seen from Brock.

Brock said the issue was that there was a timing difference in the number he gave commissioners and the numbers Curry was using and there was a difference in the way the overhead was allocated in both sets of figures.

Curry told commissioners he thought the county could be out of debt in eight years. Nance disagreed, saying the numbers did not show that.

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