State Auditor To Examine The Books Of Cincinnati Northern Ky. Airport

Nov 14, 2013

Ky. Auditor Adam Edelen has opened a "special examination" into the travel expenses of the board that oversees the Cincinnati-Northern Ky. Airport.

Credit lanereport.com

Edelen announced the action on Wednesday, saying that the airport is too important to the region's economy to allow questions about the Kentucky County Airport Board's travel policies and spending to persist.

"CVG serves a metropolitan area of 2.1 million people and is critical to the economic vitality of Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio," Edelen said at a news conference. "Making sure this asset is run efficiently and effectively is a necessary step in attracting businesses and keeping jobs. The airport's impact on Northern Kentucky and the entire commonwealth cannot be overstated.

"The airport is at an important crossroads in its 65-year history. And my goal is to provide a road map for improving operations and fostering growth."

The Kentucky Enquirer reports the board caught the auditor's attention in August when some members tried to fire the airport's chief executive officer, Candace McGraw,  in a closed-door meeting. The newspaper reported last month that the board has spent more than $140,000 to attend conferences and dinners.

Airport board members and Kenton County Judge-Executive Steve Arlinghaus have defended the travel expenses, saying they were necessary to keep with changes in the aviation industry.

Arlinghaus, who appoints the board, said in a statement that he thought the action was motivated by politics.

"I am disappointed that the Auditor's Office has allowed politics to influence its decision to conduct an audit, which came after my opponent wrote the Auditor's Office to request the audit and after he issued a press release calling for the audit," he said.

Edelen denied the allegation, saying he doesn't even know who is opposing Arlinghaus and that "it would be more politically expedient for me to go another way on this."

"I have no problem with business travel," Edelen said in an interview with The Enquirer. "But the question here is to what degree did the spending on travel and dining support the overall mission of the airport. Keep in mind, that this airport is the second most expensive (to fly to and from) in the United States. Where is the sensitivity to the taxpaying public and the public that uses this airport or have to resort to using other airports in Lexington, Louisville, Dayton or Columbus?"

Arlinghaus says the airport board will cooperate with the review.