St. Clair County officials OK $5.5 million MidAmerica airport budget

News-DemocratNovember 21, 2013 

File photo of MidAmerica Airport.

ZIA NIZAMI — znizami@bnd.com

A St. Clair County commission responsible for overseeing MidAmerica St. Louis Airport has given its approval for a proposed $5.5 million budget for the coming year.

The county's Public Building Commission unanimously OK'd the budget of the Mascoutah-based airport during a meeting Thursday. While the commissioners reviewed the budget, the St. Clair County Board will consider final approval for MidAmerica funding during its meeting on Monday.

The 2014 budget is similar to this year's $5.5 million budget and includes about $975,000 for salaries. The salary cost is for 15 full-time airport employees and about $20,000 for part-time employees.

The budget includes a pay raise for airport employees, including MidAmerica Director Tim Cantwell. County employees are budgeted to receive a 1.5 percent increase this year.

Cantwell will receive a salary of $124,207 in the coming year, according to the county budget. He was budgeted to receive $122,371 this year.

Cantwell has faced criticism from some County Board members in his leadership of the financially struggling MidAmerica airport. In October, Republican County Board member Nick Miller, of Lebanon, called for Cantwell's dismissal from the helm of the airport.

In response to Miller's call for Cantwell's dismissal, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern praised Cantwell and said he "worked tirelessly" to promote the airport.

The airport has not broken even since opening in 1998. In 2012, the airport was about $3.8 million in the red.

County audits show the airport receives millions of dollars in subsidies annually from other county funds. In the past five years, the airport has received more than $28.7 million in county funds to subsidize its operations.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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