City-Owned Airport in Tennessee Lost $70,000 Last Year, Audit Says


The city-owned airport in Collegedale, 20 miles east of Chattanooga, lost more than $70,000 during the most recent fiscal year because airport staff didn’t properly oversee its finances, according to a new state audit.

Tennessee Comptrollers released the audit this week.

“The airport did not have sufficient rates and charges or expenditure reduction to offset current year expenses,” Comptrollers wrote.

In a written response, airport management said they agree with the findings.

“We will more closely monitor the fund in the future to ensure it operates with sufficient rates and charges to pay all reasonable expenses,” airport management said in the audit.

But on Thursday Collegedale Mayor Katie Lamb said the airport is profitable, but she also said the $70,000 loss is a result of the depreciation of hangers and other airport properties.

Lamb also said the airport legally must make a profit every year.

“No taxpayer dollars go to it,” Lamb told The Tennessee Star.

But Michelle Frazier, director of Aeronautics for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, said otherwise.

TDOT’s Aeronautics gave the city $14,300 in grant money for Fiscal Year 2019 and $31,130 for Fiscal Year 2020, Frazier said.

Chris Swain, director of Collegedale’s Airport Operations, said the facility has about 17,000 private plane operations per year.

Those people, Swain went on to say, arrive for business or leisure purposes.

Originally known as Collegedale Air Park, the airport opened in 1965 as a private airport. At that time, Collegedale Airport was mainly used for flying club activities and only had a 2,600-foot turf runway, according to the airport’s website.

“The airport was licensed for public use in 1970 and three years later the City of Collegedale began operating the field as a municipal airport. Collegedale Airport has undergone many upgrades over the years including having its runway paved, and multiple hangars built,” according to the website.

“A new terminal building was built in 2002 and the runway was lengthened to 5,003 feet in 2008.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Collegedale Municipal Airport” by Graham Patton. CC BY-SA 4.0.




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2 Thoughts to “City-Owned Airport in Tennessee Lost $70,000 Last Year, Audit Says”

  1. Brian C. Young

    The city of Collegedale is a disaster. We can’t possibly afford to meet our budget without illegal traffic stop quotas. Why should we not be surprised about fraud and graft with our airport? This city is a joke.

  2. Horatio Bunce

    Maybe Collegedale simply followed the state’s lead and forked over some corporate welfare to the plane owners, you know maybe not paying sales tax for their fuel or some such in exchange for…well nothing.