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Request By:

George B. Simpson, Esq.
514-1/2 Adams Street
Sturgis, Kentucky 42459


Opinion By: Robert F. Stephens, Attorney General; By: Thomas R. Emerson, Assistant Attorney General

This is in reply to your letter raising a question as to who has title and control of the real estate on which the local airport is located.

In July of 1948 the United States of America conveyed by quitclaim deed to the Union County Air Board the old Sturgis Army Airfield located in Union County just outside the city of Sturgis. You state that in 1975 the Union County Fiscal Court assigned its right to govern and appoint members of the Union County Air Board to the City of Sturgis. The city accepted the assignment and has acted as the appointing authority.

You ask who has title and control of the airport real estate at the present time, whether Union County has relinquished control and ownership to the City of Sturgis and whether Union County may "retain the right to re-invest itself by again re-asserting its right to appoint the Union County Air Board?"

Among the exhibits you have enclosed is a copy of a letter to the War Assets Administration, dated April 24, 1948, indicating that the Union County Air Board was established in accordance with the provisions of KRS Chapter 183 by the Union County Fiscal Court. In 1948 the applicable statutes dealing with air boards in such a county were KRS 183.370 to 183.470.

KRS 183.370(1) provided in part:

"Any city of the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth class, or any county or any such city jointly with the county in which it is located, may acquire, either by lease, purchase, gift or condemnation in the same manner as park property is condemned, any land necessary or suitable for establishing airports within or without the limits of such city. . . ."

KRS 183.390(1) stated in part:

"The city or county or city and county may by ordinance or resolution, provide for the appointment of an airport board . . . who shall have authority to establish, construct, maintain, manage, operate and control the airport. . . ."

KRS 183.470 contained the following provision:

"The title to all property acquired under the provisions of KRS 183.370 to 183.470 shall vest in the city or county or in both. . . ."

The provisions of KRS 183.370 to 183.470 were repealed by Acts 1960, ch. 179, § 1. The present provisions pertaining to local air boards are found in KRS 183.132 to 183.138 and were originally adopted in 1960 (Enact. Acts 1960, ch. 179). Compare the provision of KRS 183.470 set forth above with the following provision of KRS 183.138:

"The title to all property acquired by the board may vest in the board or in any governmental unit owning, operating or controlling an airport, or which has established an airboard under this chapter, or in the department. . . ."

In OAG 76-247, copy enclosed, written in response to a question you submitted, and also dealing with the Sturgis Airport, we quoted in part from your letter as follows:

"The City of Sturgis, a fourth-class city, located in Union County, Kentucky, was given jurisdiction of the Sturgis Airport by the Union County Fiscal Court. The City of Sturgis then appointed an airport board to operate the local airport. "

In the above-mentioned opinion we assumed, by your reference to the effect that the city was given jurisdiction of the airport facility, that the city took over complete control of the airport from the fiscal court, making it, in effect, a city airport and giving the city the same powers that the county would have had over the airport. That was, however, a question of fact which we could not determine.

In your later letter you state that the fiscal court assigned its right to govern and appoint members of the air board to the city. While under the proper procedures the city could take over complete control of the airport or the city and county could jointly operate the airport, we are unaware of any statutory provisions authorizing the county to assign or delegate specific duties and responsibilities concerning the air board and the airport. See

American Airlines, Inc. v. Louisville and Jefferson County Air Board, 269 F.2d 811 (6th Cir. 1959).

Furthermore, under the 1948 statutes the title to all property acquired under the provisions of KRS 183 vested in the city or county or both but not in the air board. Thus, the title to property acquired in 1948 vested in the county and we cannot determine what, if anything, has been done to transfer title to that property.

Even if the county could assign or delegate duties and responsibilities, such actions would not automatically transfer title to the property. If the complete control of the airport was given over to the city, we assume some provisions would have been made concerning transferring title to the property to the city.

The Sunshine Law Library is not exhaustive and may contain errors from source documents or the import process. Nothing on this website should be taken as legal advice. It is always best to consult with primary sources and appropriate counsel before taking any action.
Lexis Citation:
1977 Ky. AG LEXIS 765
Cites (Untracked):
  • OAG 76-247

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