Midlothian City Council votes to put a Joint Airport Agreement with City of Waxahachie on Hold

Midlothian City Hall
Midlothian City Hall Staff Photo

MIDLOTHIAN – The City of Midlothian voted 6 – 0, with Mayor Pro Tem Clark Wickliffe not in attendance, to table an item on the agenda to adopt a revised Joint Airport Agreement with the City of Waxahachie for the operation of Mid-Way Regional Airport. Council went into an executive session at the request of Place 3 Anna Hammonds, who noted issues that needed further discussion with legal counsel.

Many voices were heard in opposition to this item, both in attendance at the meeting and residents who had voiced their opposition in writing before the meeting.

City Councilmember Place 5 Ed Gardner made the motion to table the item “until after the completion of the joint Midlothian Airport Board, Waxahachie and stakeholders’ workshop and the establishment of a committee to guide the process and rewrite the joint airport agreement.”

The revisions to the Joint Airport Agreement with the City of Waxahachie were to adjust and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Airport Board and the two cities that jointly own the airport. The current agreement was entered into in 1987 to acquire land together construct, develop, and operate Midlothian/Waxahachie Airport. In 1992, the cities revised the agreement to define the roles and responsibilities of the parties to operate the joint airport now known as Mid-Way Regional Airport.

The agreement presented to the city council had amendments, including the Airport board transitioning to an advisory role, the cities directly contracting or hiring an Airport Manager, the Airport Manager working under the supervision of the cities designated staff, meeting agendas prepared by the Airport Manager, the finance, accounting and personnel to continue to be handled by Waxahachie, legal issues and economic development to continue to be managed by Midlothian and the Airport Manager, purchasing and property disposal be handled by the City of Midlothian as well as the marketing and communication and officers be chair and vice-chair.

The main concern voiced by those who spoke was the fast track the agreement was taken without proper consideration. It was asked of council to pause and create a committee utilizing the current board members who have extensive aviation and business experience, asking for their voices to be heard before transitioning the current airport board into an honorary position.

One board member, Dr. Michael Williams, said, “A lot of things have not taken place at this airport due to red tape and bureaucracy, and this document is going to make that worse.”

Of those who spoke, former city councilmember Walter Darrach, the previous Midway Airport Board Liaison, spoke in opposition. Darrach pointed out that while he did in the past believe that changes to the airport are necessary, he said he did not think this version of changes are “best for the long-term success of the airport, it’s tenants and its long-term future.”

Darrach pointed out, “This change was written with no involvement from the board, no study of future impact, no input from current stakeholders and business owners at the airport.”

He felt the changes should be placed on hold until a proper group could be established and a plan worked out with all the necessary and experienced parties involved.

No other executive action was taken except the pending litigation in the case of Alma Ann Seale and Sam Seale v. City of Midlothian, Texas. Hammonds made a motion to authorize the city manager to execute an engagement letter with Walker Bright Law Firm for representation of the city as it relates to Sam Seale and Alma Ann Seale versus the City of Midlothian. The item passed 6 – 0.

Other regular agenda items that passed 6 – 0, including adopting the FY 2023-2024 Pay Plan for the approved positions included in the upcoming fiscal year budget beginning October 1, 2023, as amended with one minor change to a job grade.

Also passed were an ordinance amending the Code of Ordinances for “Building Regulations,” repealing an Article “Flood Damage Prevention” and replacing it with an Article titled “Flood Damage Prevention” with a new ordinance establishing regulations to minimize flood losses and to remain in compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) regulations.

Council voted to authorize the City Manager to execute an agreement for professional services with Freese and Nichols, Inc. for engineering-related services associated with the dredging of sediment within the intake channel at the City’s raw water pump station at Joe Pool Lake not to exceed $391,499, and authorizing the Mayor to execute a Public Road Development Agreement with the Midlothian Development Authority and KDC OEDC Development Two, LLC for the realignment and reconstruction of VV Jones Road, from US Highway 67 to Power Way. This item also authorized the temporary closing of a segment of VV Jones Road necessary for the construction of the Oncor facility.

The Public Hearing regarding amending the development and use regulations to allow for an electronic message center on a pole sign at 1630 North U.S. Highway 67 was tabled until November.

All consent agenda items passed, including the minutes from the City Council meetings of August 22 and September 5, 2023, an Interlocal Cooperative Purchasing Agreement with the City of Harker Heights, a proposal from Nema 3 Electric, Inc. for the purchase and installation of a 130-foot powder coated pole and a 65-foot  powder coated pole for water meter collectors in Bridgewater and Westside Preserves not to exceed $93,907.00, a resolution authorizing the Midlothian High School Alumni Association Homecoming Parade on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, in accordance with a Special Event Permit.

Council also passed a resolution authorizing the See Ya at the Pole Rally, hosted by First Baptist Church Midlothian scheduled for Wednesday, September 27, 2023, in accordance with a Special Event Permit, a resolution authorizing the Creekside Manor Haunted House on each Friday and Saturday from September 29 to October 28, Sunday, October 29, Monday, October 30, and Tuesday, October 31, 2023 for 13 days in accordance with a Special Event Permit, and a five-year agreement with Axon Enterprise, Inc. for the purchase of body cameras, in-car video systems, tasers, and associated software and storage not to exceed $376,138.00.