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Air-traffic privatization could be major economic hit to Oberlin

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OBERLIN — President Donald Trump’s proposal to privatize the Federal Aviation Administration has at least one former councilman who worked for the Oberlin facility nervous.

Tony Mealy, who worked for the center as a senior controller during Ronald Reagan’s administration, said the change could pose a big problem for the city.

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Tony Mealy

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“As a former councilman, I would be concerned about that because they’ve talked for years about consolidating some of these centers,” Mealy said. “My thoughts are, if they were to consolidate, flat-out abandon this facility … the city would lose, in my mind, a large chunk of revenue.”

The Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center on East Lorain Street employs more than 300 people.

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Sal Talarico

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Finance Director Sal Talarico said the center is the city’s largest payer of income tax, bigger than Oberlin College. Income taxes from all sources make up 58 percent of total revenue for the city’s general fund. The revenue also makes up 100 percent of the money in the capital improvement fund, which pays for things like paving streets, buying safety equipment and vehicles and making back debt on major projects.

Tony Molinaro, FAA spokesman for the Great Lakes region, referred all questions to a website set up by the Department of Transportation.

A statement from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta is supportive of the plan to privatize 30,000 federal workers.

“While the FAA has made progress to upgrade our nation’s air traffic control system, despite certain constraints, I support looking at new ways to help us provide stable and sufficient funding to more rapidly modernize our system, while maintaining the highest level of safety,” Huerta said. “The proposal to create a separate, non-government air traffic control service provider is a step in a process that needs to involve all users of the airspace system and deliver benefits to the system as a whole.”

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.



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