In mid to late May, many news outlets [May 14 IBJ] covered a story with Indianapolis International Airport board President Mike Wells prominently reporting that the airport suffered a $31.3 million operating loss in 2011. Many causes for the loss were cited.
Unfortunately, the real truth is that it was a paper loss due to depreciation of property the airport was given free. In a memo to all airport employees on May 25, CFO Marsha Stone attributed the reporting fallacy to “the difficulty the media and others have in analyzing and reporting on” the airport’s financial reports. She said that if depreciation is excluded, the airport actually netted a $74 million profit.
It is incomprehensible that Wells, whose livelihood involves real estate, would not understand the impact of depreciation on the airport’s accounting, and equally incomprehensible that he did not know he was leading reporters and the public down a false path. Wells has sacrificed his credibility and Mayor Greg Ballard should remove him from the board.