Important Information About The Georgetown
November 1. 2002
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors:
I implore you to reconsider your decision to deprive the Divide communities of the services of Steve Cimmarusti as the Georgetown Airport FBO. It is extremely short-sighted, and is abysmal economics, to terminate someone who has proven himself, over the past ten years, to be a competent, conscientious, valuable community asset, who brings a considerable amount of business and favorable publicity to an isolated and economically challenged area! How can you justify terminating someone who has taken it upon himself to provide free security and services far beyond what the county would, or even could, pay anyone else to provide? With all the concerns over the economy and terrorism, it is an extremely poor time to deal such a crippling blow to the security and economy of our community.
For the past ten years or so, Steve Cimmarusti and his wife Trish have been among the Divide's most important citizens and resources. They have provided outstanding management for the Georgetown Airport and the local campground as an unpaid community service, 7 days a week, often 14 hours a day. They have contributed countless hours of valuable and selfless personal service to our community, outside the airport as well as within. That is something that goes far beyond price.
You cannot pay people to perform the services that the Cimmarusti's voluntarily provide for us. They have supported our isolated community by providing cheerful assistance to neighbors and friends. They provide a safe, well-managed and appointed congenial meeting place for community-building activities (many of which they promote and work hard to provide for us) at their business and at the campgrounds. Their years of friendly hard work and service to the community have put the Georgetown Area on the nation's airways map, regularly bringing in thousands of people from around the nation, from as far away as Florida, to visit and bring business to our isolated community. People not only fly in, but drive up to airport events! They stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and shop here. They bring other visitors who recommend our airport to others who investigate business opportunities in the area. Because of Steve Cimmarusti's service to the airport, visitors have written articles bringing favorable publicity to this area in national publications.
Would these people come here if there were no one to repair their planes, if the airport and campground were locked much of the time, if there were no more fly-ins, and if there were no one who really cares about promoting our community or the welfare of its members? No, they would never have heard of the place or wanted to visit without the word being spread by the people who have enjoyed their visits here because of the Cimmarustis! Any economic boost is significant here, and Steve's influence could be a deciding factor in our community welfare and economic future. Please do not deprive us, and your county, of this asset.
At this time all government officials are being asked to plan for increased public security and safety. Because of our location, our airport is considerably more crucial to our safety and well being than is ordinarily the case. We need our airport for the safety and security of the Divide communities and we need someone there, who knows the area, has an investment in its welfare, and is competent and trustworthy to handle emergencies. This is not an optional or frivolous matter. . Our Supervisors would appear callously negligent, if an emergency were to occur requiring the use of the airport when the county attendant was off duty, the gates locked, and possibly, the fuel for rescue and fire fighting aircraft low because the five day a week attendant was off when there was an unusual increase in fuel usage, or if the fuel was not due to be checked, according to his job description, until the following week.
I have heard that Mr. Cimmarusti has been unable to make some of his lease payments promptly and that this may have been a factor in the Boards decision to terminate him.
1. It is absurd to terminate a FBO who is giving the County vital, useful, free service far above and beyond what they can pay him to do. This is particularly so when our country is experiencing an economic decline and a security crisis and the FBO is contributing significantly to the security and economic well being of a remote area which has few economic opportunities.
2. It is penny-wise and pound-foolish to penalize him for fees that were paid late when there are good and sound reasons it could not be avoided. The fact that he has paid late may not look good in the County records, but the County has constantly denied him the salary and title of Airport Manager as well as other support that was due and reasonable. Mr. Cimmarusti does not go around mentioning or complaining of such instances, but I happen to be aware of a few significant instances that have impacted his financial options:
The airport shut downs after 9-11 dealt a severe blow to all airport FBOs. No one needed fuel or services and there could be no income from flight instructions. Even repair services were impacted. The Federal government is considering helping the country's FBOs because of their tremendous losses. Is it appropriate for local government to penalize them instead?
The county stalled for years before having a legally operable fuel tank installed. This forced the Cimmarusti's to use a small fuel truck on site, preventing them from realizing any net profit from fuel sales. (I know that the tank issue was deliberately delayed by the county, as my husband was one of the Engineers that researched the county's claims about the time and money necessary to install them. His findings that the county's estimates were considerably exaggerated were independently confirmed by other experienced and competent Engineers presently employed in the field.)
The Cimmarusti's have paid everything that the county has asked, even though his requests for detailed accounting have been repeatedly ignored. Any honest business is expected to provide an accounting of their charges and the county needs to be held to the same standard. There is genuine concern that some of the charges are not valid and the county has, thus far, refused substantiate its claims.
3. The duties and policies of each County department are applied according to their point of view and input, which is necessarily limited to their field of knowledge. It is necessary for the Supervisors to be well informed to keep the county departments apprised of the 'big picture' and convey an understanding of the circumstances and the possible impact of departmental actions on the people and communities involved, so that they will be able make adjustments appropriate to the circumstances. It is also the duty of the Supervisors to manage these departments, so that they do carry out their duties and apply their regulations and policies appropriately for the long range benefit of all concerned.
The Georgetown FBO termination is one instance where the strictest enforcement of departmental policies will cause more damage to the County, and its citizens, than a more logical and practical enforcement. When departments and departmental staff are not in a position to see this, or do not have the authority to make an intelligent decision and act upon it, the Supervisors (our representatives) should intervene. Otherwise what is the point of having Supervisors?
4. It is inconceivable to me that the county can find, or will choose, a replacement for Mr. Cimmarusti who will be able to meet the financial responsibilities any better than he has. Especially if they must face the same continual barrage of County obstacles, mismanagement, and apparent hostility that the present and past FBOs have faced. (I cannot imagine why anyone would want such an ill-rewarded position.) It is quite likely that another FBO would be considerably worse than the outstanding Cimmarustis, on all counts, making you appear incompetent or worse.
It is difficult to maintain confidence in a Board of Supervisors, who meet in secret to make dictatorial decisions on matters which have such a devastating effect on our community for reasons which they refuse to discuss with the people they are supposed to represent. It appears that they have some agenda that they wish to hide and do not care about the welfare of the citizens who elected them. If the reasons are more compelling than the appearance of honest and responsible actions, they must be alarming indeed. I believe that any thinking person would be concerned that there is a hidden agenda behind this, and that the safety and welfare of our community might depend upon discovering just what it is, so that we can deal with it, instead of continually being misdirected by officials who apparently intend to prevent us from resolving a potentially disastrous situation.
Please renew Mr. Cimmarusti's lease as FBO of Georgetown Airport. You have already planned to pay a County employee to provide limited service. A far better solution would be to create a win-win situation for all concerned. This could be achieved by using that money to make Mr. Cimmarusti a salaried Airport Manager. This would provide full airport services and security at a bargain price from two proven and outstanding airport managers willing to give more service than could be paid for by the county. It would also insure the Cimmarusti's ability to make prompt lease payments. This sensible solution would demonstrate that you are thrifty, prudent, and wise, as well as committed to insuring the security, safety and welfare of the Divide communities in a time when security is a national priority.
S. Martin, R.N., B.S.N.