Airport commission places Executive Director on leave, commissioner resigns amid state audit

Posted at 4:42 PM, Mar 02, 2017
Bourey, Jim

Jim Bourey

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News City Manager Jim Bourey resigned from the Peninsula Airport Commission Thursday, kicking off a meeting that would also see the Newport News/Williamsburg Airport Executive Director placed on leave.

Bourey Resignation Letter

Bourey's decision to resign comes as the airport, which the commission oversees, is being audited by the state.

State funds were suspended to the Newport News/Williamsburg Airport because of a report that funds were wrongly used.

A State Transportation Secretary said the Virginia Department of Aviation learned the airport used $3.5 million in state funds to pay off a loan.

Following Bourey's resignation commissioners met in closed session for two hours, ultimately deciding to place Executive Director Ken Spirito on paid administrative leave until the audit is complete.

"We wanted to be sure the integrity of the audit is not being compromised in any way, but at the same time we didn't want to put any cloud on him," said Chairman George Wallace, who said in a statement that the commission regrets what's happened.

The commission also parted ways with attorney Bert Kelly, ending a 60-year relationship with his firm.

"At the end of the day this is a business so as a group we made these decisions," said Commissioner Sharon P. Scott. "We want to show we're serious about problem management and transparency."

The state audit could take two months. Airport Assistant Executive Director Melissa Cheaney will take over for Spirito until commissioners can find an Interim Executive Director. That discussion is expected to happen next week.

Click below to read Wallace's full statement.