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RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Charlotte City Council and Mayor Patsy Kinsey have agreed to transfer control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport to an independent 11-member governing body, but one whose members would be appointed by the city.

City Manager Ron Carlee said the proposal sent to the General Assembly Monday afternoon was a really dramatic change for council members.

This is more than halfway, Carlee said.

If the Republican-controlled General Assembly agrees to the city s proposal, the airport would no longer be run as a city department, as it has for roughly 80 years. It would be run by an authority, or a commission, as Kinsey said Monday night.

The governing body would be similar to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which manages the city s tourism efforts. The CRVA is independent from the city, though its board members are all appointed by the mayor and council members.

It s unclear if the General Assembly will go along with the city s proposal. Council members and Kinsey met for about two hours in closed session Monday night discussing the offer.

We are still talking, Kinsey said about the city s relationship with the General Assembly.

Under the city s plan, 2 of the 11 airport board members would be from west Charlotte, where the airport is located. Three would be from outside Mecklenburg County and the remaining six would be from Charlotte or the county.

Now the airport functions as a city department. Aviation Director Jerry Orr reports to the city manager.

Kinsey met with council members over the weekend and Monday, trying to find a compromise to remove what Carlee said is a cloud of uncertainty over the airport.

In the city s monthslong standoff with the legislature, Carlee had proposed a similar governing structure for the airport. But council members rejected that idea.

But the General Assembly is on the cusp of passing a bill that would take all control of the airport away from the city. That move apparently caused council members to shift positions.

If the city s proposal is accepted, the new 11-member airport governing board would be free to make decisions on buying equipment, hiring and firing an aviation director and planning future expansions.

The City Council had rejected a legislative proposal to create a study group for the airport, saying it was biased in favor of creating an authority.

The city usually takes a hands-off approach to the CRVA.

But two years ago, council members and former Mayor Anthony Foxx withheld money from the tourism authority until its board members agreed to demote former chief executive Tim Newman.

Under the city s proposal, the mayor and council members would have power over airport commission appointments. It s unclear whether the City Council would have any control over airport revenues.

If city and legislative leaders do not reach an agreement, House members could vote on the authority bill Tuesday.

It could win final Senate approval by mid-week. As a so-called local bill, it would become law without Gov. Pat McCrory s signature.

City leaders have fought the authority bill. Polls show Charlotte voters overwhelmingly against it.

Supporters say it would give the airport more streamlined management and keep politics out of management decisions.

City officials have made less-than-veiled suggestions that they would sue the state should an authority bill pass. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and one of the main House sponsors of the bill, said that s what she d like to avoid.

Early Monday night, Samuelson appeared confident that a compromise could emerge that would put the airport under control of something short of a full-fledged authority.

Negotiations between the city and legislators first appeared to fall apart last week. Lawmakers had invited the city to join a 12-member, joint legislative study commission. The House, Senate and city would each have four appointments.

City officials said that was unbalanced. They called an authority a predetermined outcome.

But lawmakers said the composition would be even. They said two of their eight appointees would be Democrats, who would presumably side with the city. That would make the commission split 6-6, with half favoring an authority and half favoring continued city control.

Samuelson said House leaders put that in writing, even giving the city the say over which Democrat would be named from the House. And, she added, they went further.

We gave them our pledge that we would not let anything pass the House in the (2014) short session that did not conform to whatever the study commission came up with.

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