MidAmerica Airport head got big raise in 2013

News-DemocratApril 8, 2014 

A nearly 5 percent pay increase has made MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Director Tim Cantwell the third-highest paid county employee or elected official for St. Clair County.

Cantwell's earnings jumped from $122,014 in 2012 to $127,973 in 2013. In January, Cantwell received a $13,000-plus bonus for meeting goals in 2013. Cantwell oversees the county-owned airport, its 14 employees and manages a $5.5 million budget.

The News-Democrat received the salary information through the Freedom of Information Act. The pay for all of the county's employees is available in a searchable database hosted online at bnd.com.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly is the highest-paid county employee; his salary is set by state statute. Kelly received a slight decrease in pay -- earning $164,502 in 2013 compared with $165,048 in 2012.

Intergovernmental Grants Department Director Debra Moore received a pay increase of more than 4.2 percent in 2013 and is the county's second-highest paid employee. She made $138,733 last year and supervises 65 employees.

St. Clair County Board member Nick Miller, a Republican from Lebanon, criticized giving Cantwell a pay raise. He has been critical of Cantwell's job performance in the past and said Cantwell should be dismissed for continued financial losses at the airport.

The airport has a projected deficit of $1.4 million this year. The county has subsidized airport operations more than $28.7 million in the past five years, according to county audits.

"Where else but St. Clair County and MidAmerica Airport can a guy get rewarded so well for failing so badly?" Miller said. "We don't even know if Mr. Cantwell is even operating under a valid contract, yet he's receiving large raises and bonuses. And for what? Making sure MidAmerica only loses $1.4 million this year instead of the multiple millions it's lost in years past under his watch?"

Cantwell could not be reached for comment.

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, a Democrat, said it was "obvious that Nick Miller has a personal vendetta against Tim Cantwell." He added Cantwell continues to work hard and is committed to his work, and the county operates on a daily basis with the joint-use mission of Scott Air Force Base.

"Before Col. Cantwell was at MidAmerica Airport there was no passenger airline, no international cargo and the Boeing (Co.)'s operation was only a dream. Additionally the Illinois State Police and the Illinois National Guard have moved onto the airport and built over $9 million of infrastructure and brought 120 jobs," Kern said.

"All of these things have since been achieved under Col. Cantwell's leadership and guidance."

Other top earners in the county were:

* County Administrator Dan Maher -- $125,045.

* Health Department Director Kevin Hutchison -- $117,686.

* St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern earned $98,431 in 2013 and was ranked 20th in terms of wages.

Overall, the county spent an additional $1 million on salaries in 2013 compared to the previous year. The county spent about $40 million on pay last year, about $472,000 of which was spent on overtime.

The county also employed 34 additional people in that time, with 1,084 employees in 2013 compared to 1,050 employees in 2012.

On March 31, the St. Clair County Board froze the pay of most elected officials for up to four years. The county's sheriff, treasurer, county clerk and County Board members will not receive a pay raise through 2018. The pay of the County Board chairman, auditor, circuit clerk, coroner and recorder of deeds will not be raised through 2016.

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

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