Aviation Authority postpones vote for officers, discusses JetBlue deal

      (Joe O'Neill/WCIV)

      By Sandra Ecklund and Joe O'

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Charleston County Aviation Authority voted 8-2 Thursday to postpone the vote for officers until January, giving Rep. Chip Limehouse over three more months as chairman.

      "We need to display a sense of commonality where we're working together," said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. "Let's put personalities aside, let's move forward and then in January we have the election of the chair and move forward from there for another year."

      Earlier this week the board voted unanimously to reverse a decision that gave Limehouse{} the authority to oversee the board's director.

      The board also discussed why members weren't informed of the deal made with JetBlue or the $200,000 incentive given to the low-cost carrier. That incentive, which according to board member Susan Stevens was put into place in 2007 for any carrier who wanted to come to Charleston, is in the form of renovations to give JetBlue a ready-to-move-in space in the terminal and a waiver of landing fees. Those that supported the confidentiality of the deal argued that if the amount had been leaked, another city could have lured JetBlue away with a sweeter deal.

      "When you're negotiating new businesses coming to the area, it's important to keep it confidential so that competitors don't get the edge on what's happening so that whatever you're offering can be approved by the respective governmental agencies," said Limehouse. "But it's also important for the governing board to be in the loop as to what's happening so there's a fine balance to strike and I think today was a healthy debate regarding the fine balance and we're going to have an update at our next meeting on all of our incentive packages that are out there."

      *Lia Sestric contributed to this report