The state Assembly has unanimously approved legislation that would eliminate the $171,648 salaries paid to three airport authority board members.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, heads to the governor for his signature.

The bill packs less punch than it originally did. When it was conceived in the wake of the defeat of the Miramar ballot proposal, the legislation called for a seven-member airport board composed of elected officials. At the time, Kehoe said the structure was necessary to ensure the board’s accountability. But elected officials resisted that idea. The board will remain a nine-member board of political appointees.

The appointing powers will be tweaked if the bill is signed into law. San Diego’s mayor will appoint one member directly; the mayor can appoint two other board members, subject to City Council approval.

The chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will appoint two members subject to board approval. One appointee must be a supervisor. Supervisors had previously appointed one member; the sheriff appointed another.

Four members are selected by regional groups of other cities in the county. The governor, who is not typically permitted to make appointments to local boards, loses his appointing authority.

The airport board chairman is eligible to receive an additional $500 per month on top of the $200-per-meeting stipend board members will be paid. The board, however, can boost their per diem with a two-thirds majority vote.

Current board members will remain in place until Jan. 31, 2009, with three members leaving the board each year until 2012.

The bill also adds three members of the public to the authority’s audit committee.


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