The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners voted Nov. 13 to approve a three-year contract to privatize the management of Saginaw's H.W. Browne Airport by handing over management responsibilities to the person best qualified to take over: Alan R. Kaufman, Brown's current publicly employed manager.

County Administration Director Michael E. Thompson says the deal will cut Brown's annual administrative costs by $31,000 in the first year alone, and will reduce overall costs by around 40 percent per year. "We get to keep the same skilled employees at a lower cost," Thompson told the Saginaw News.

The taxpayer-supported airport has struggled to reduce the flow of red ink during the past year, cutting staff and trimming the airport subsidy from $288,000 last year to about $75,000.

And privatization may not stop with the airport, says Thompson. Officials overseeing Saginaw's financially strapped budget may privatize even more services during next spring's budget process. "We're expecting a difficult and contentious budget process," Thompson told the News. "We're open to everything on the table to be reviewed."