St. Clair County has reminded us again that government doesn't operate like a private business. North Bay Produce is doing so well at MidAmerica Airport, it wants a $3.5 million expansion of its business. The county's Public Building Commission just OK'd the plans but the County Board has yet to decide the financing.
Only in government would people approve a project first and determine who will pay for it later.
County Administrator Dan Maher said the financing agreement probably will be similar to the previous deal with North Bay. For the current $5.7 million warehouse, the county invested $2.15 million and eventually will own the warehouse.
But why should the taxpayers be expected to help fund anything else? Overhead is part of the cost of doing business, after all.
St. Clair County keeps acting as if it just spends a few million more dollars on MidAmerica, it finally will take off. But how much regular cargo air traffic has North Bay generated? None. The produce currently is being transported by truck. There's no guarantee this expansion will change that, just a guarantee of more spending.
North Bay is "aggressively exploring bringing aircraft into MidAmerica," we're told. Really? The company's website doesn't even mention the MidAmerica warehouse. But even if North Bay does arrange to sell blueberries to China, the real problem is finding something to fly back besides an empty plane. That's part of the reason the flower flights from South America didn't work out.
St. Clair County still loses millions of dollars a year operating MidAmerica in addition to the hundreds of millions already invested in the complex. If this were a private business, it would have been shut down years ago.
County leaders refuse to pull the plug on the airport, but enough with the taxpayer-financed expansions.