Mike Shannon lambasted the Port of Kennewick on Tuesday for taking public the Vista Field Airport negotiations he thought were confidential.
Shannon, who has been negotiating with the port to take over running Vista Field as the fixed-based operator, said that has resulted in misinformation and "fictitious numbers" being released.
He told the port he isn't sure how port staff came up with the $20 million to $33 million cost to taxpayers if Shannon runs the airport for 30 years.
And Shannon, owner of Kennewick's Shannon Dental, said he certainly wasn't suggesting the port ask citizens for a tax increase to pay for the airport.
Port commissioners decided in 2010 to keep Vista Field open after hearing from the public, including some who said private investments would come to the area based on Vista Field being open.
The airport is operated at a loss to the port. The port has lost almost $15,000 this year at Vista Field. The loss in the past few years has ranged from $15,000 in 2009 to $30,000 in 2010, said Tammy Fine, the port's finance director and auditor.
Shannon told commissioners that he was presented with a "ridiculous" draft lease agreement and didn't consider his comments to Port Executive Director Tim Arntzen for negotiation on that lease to be a proposal.
The proposed lease differed from conversations Shannon said he had with port staff.
Port Commission President Skip Novakovich said he thought the initial proposal was for the port to put $40,000 a year into operating the airport and for the fixed-based operator to receive any proceeds from the airport.
Shannon said a business can't be run on $40,000 a year. He said he wanted to discuss increasing the port's annual contribution for operating expenses to $60,000.
And Shannon said he also would like the port to reserve $200,000 for capital improvements, but that isn't an amount he is asking the port to spend on airport projects each year.
Arntzen told commissioners he took issue with Shannon's comment that port staff was "smoking something."
"We are not smoking anything," he said.
Shannon said he was concerned about the port's intent.
"This isn't ready for prime time," Shannon said "I think this makes us all look bad."
The port is negotiating in good faith and has not "cooked" the numbers, Arntzen said.
Arntzen said he has had difficulty reaching Shannon to discuss the lease. At the last port meeting, they were updating commissioners on negotiations.
Novakovich suggested Shannon and port staff meet and continue discussing the lease rather than discussing it in public.
Shannon asked that the draft lease agreement he was sent and his comments be passed on to port commissioners to review.
Arntzen told the Herald that he sent a draft lease to Shannon Dec. 16 and has made multiple attempts to discuss the terms with Shannon.
"I'm baffled," Arntzen said.
He called Shannon's claim that the document sent to the port was not a proposal was "a play on words."
Arntzen said port staff has been trying to get to a point where there is a lease agreement.
The contested document from Shannon includes 53 numbered comments. The comments range from having a 30-year straight lease to having the port participate in any purchase of materials and equipment that will be used long term or become a permanent part of the airport.
Shannon also said that the draft lease would require him to build a new 12,000-square-foot fixed-based operator building in the first two years at his own expense, and then it would become property of the port.
"You have got to be kidding," he wrote. "Who in their right mind would make this commitment?"
After the meeting, Shannon told Arntzen he needed to take responsibility for not supporting the airport.
Novakovich stopped the discussion with his gavel and said the meeting's recess was finished and a closed-door session was about to begin.
The prescheduled executive session included port staff only and the agenda said the board planned to discuss possible litigation and real estate issues.
Shannon told the Herald that he still hopes to become the fixed-base operator at Vista Field.
He challenged the idea that he was unavailable to negotiate the terms of the lease and said Arntzen himself has been unavailable.
He said he has a list of businesses who are interested in investing in Vista Field, but who won't unless they know for sure that the airport will remain open. That's why he wants a 30-year lease agreement.
"I believe in Vista Field," Shannon told commissioners. "This is not a big money maker for me."
Developer Jose Chavallo told commissioners he would like to see the airport closed and the land developed to benefit Kennewick and citizens.
"You are sitting on a diamond on the rough," he said.
The airport land is in the center of Kennewick near the Columbia Center mall and the Three Rivers Convention Center.
"I'm not against the airport," he said. "I just think it is in the wrong location."