City eyes airport annexation

Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch appeared at the City Council meeting on June 24 to obtain permission to install a new drainage ditch and culvert under Leland Snow Way to make way for its fifth plant and to participate in a discussion about whether the City should annex the Olney Airport into a new taxing district.

Air Tractor and contractor Trinity Hughes of Wichita Falls planned to start the project on July 1, while the company is closed for its summer break, and complete it within two weeks, Mr. Hirsch said. Air Tractor plans to break ground on the new plant around the first of next year.

But Mr. Hirsch indicated that the City’s proposal to annex the airport, where Air Tractor manufactures the planes it builds for agricul- ture, fire prevention, and military uses, could have an impact on whether the company goes forward with the new plant.

Mr. Hirsch told the Council that he only became aware of the proposal to annex the airport a couple of weeks earlier and was “still learning about it.”

“Potentially it could have some impact on [Air Tractor’s] tax liability and I urge the Council to look carefully,” he said.

Olney Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Tom Parker appeared before the Council on June 24 to propose the annexation of the Olney Airport into a tax incremental reinvestment zone (TIRZ) that would also include most of Main Street and Olney Lake to fund revitalization of downtown and infrastructure repair.

“The lake will take longer [to annex] because it’s in Archer County,” Mr. Parker said. “The airport represents a lot of things that will be going on out here. The [land] that Air Tractor and Jerry Keeter own would not be part of the annexation.”

He said the TIRZ must include housing, raw land, and industry.

“The idea is to prime the economic pump of putting resources back into town,” Mr. Parker told the Council. “We’ve talked about infrastructure for homes and for businesses and things coming in. There has just not been a vehicle to do that.”

Under the proposal, any additional ad valorem tax revenue created by TIRZ activities would be used to pay for im-