AUBURN — The City Council approved a new framework for the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport board of directors on Monday, but the changes must also be approved in Lewiston, where officials are slated to vote Tuesday.

The new structure would keep two city councilor positions on the board, as well as add two, non-voting airport user positions.

The original changes proposed, outlined last month, would have downsized the board membership from nine to five members, removing three resident members and making the board makeup feature exclusively city staff. However, the proposal was tabled by both cities in response to concern from pilots and others over removing board members with aviation knowledge.

The amended makeup, approved unanimously in Auburn on Monday, would include two staff members each from the cities of Lewiston and Auburn, the executive director of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, a city councilor from each city, and two non-voting airport users.

A council memo said the two representatives, appointed by the seven other members of the board, “shall be users of the airport with aviation knowledge and experience and who shall serve in an ‘ex-officio,’ non-voting capacity.”

During public comment, board member and pilot Marc Blais, who has been outspoken on airport issues, said removing pilots from the board “sends the wrong message” as the airport faces significant problems.


During an earlier workshop Monday, Jonathan LaBonte, chairman of the airport’s board of directors, summarized the current state of the airport for city councilors. The presentation included details on the state of the airport when he became chairman, including considerable revenue deficits, lease mismanagement, and “an erosion of trust” among users of the airport.

LaBonte has previously said similar airports do not have pilots on the board due to potential conflicts of interest.

Blais said having a pilots on the board “is no different than a school board member having a kid in school.”

“If you look back at history, the trouble started when there were no pilots on the board,” he said referring to the Auburn-Lewiston airport.

Blais said LaBonte “has done his research” since becoming chairman, but that part of the initial success in addressing the airports issues has been listening to pilots.

The Lewiston City Council will take up the proposed changes to the interlocal agreement Tuesday.

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