A group of St. Clair County Board members on Monday took another shot at gaining oversight of the county-owned MidAmerica Airport, and failed again.
Under the proposed resolution, which would amend an intergovernmental agreement with the St. Clair County Public Building Commission, any contract over $30,000 concerning the management and operation of the airport would have to be approved by the County Board.
As part of the failed resolution, any bonus to an employee of Mid-America would have had to be approved by the County Board, and there would need to be a monthly airport update to the full board.
The proposal was sponsored by Democrats Frank Heiligenstein and Larry Stammer, and Republicans Ed Cockrell, C.David Tiedemann, Craig Hubbard, Mike O’Donnell, Fred Boch, Steve Reeb and Nick Miller.
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Republican John West joined them in support of the failed resolution.
Board members Robert Allen, Michael Baker, June Chartrand, Carol Clark, Marty Crawford, Jerry Dinges, Ken Easterley, Angela Grossmann-Roewe, Lorraine Haywood, Curtis Jones, Joan McIntosh, Lonnie Mosley, Roy Mosley Jr., Dixie Seibert, Bob Trentman and Richard Vernier, all Democrats, voted to deny the resolution.
County Board Chairman Mark Kern reiterated board members can attend the Public Building Commission or the economic development committee meetings to be updated on the airport.
Kern said the airport operating helps ensure Scott Air Force Base stays open.
He added Boeing has two shifts, North Bay produce working on air charter business, and over the weekend, a company had two air cargo 747s surveying the airport.
Kern said the airport is running a $2 million deficit this year, and breaking even would depend on the number of contracts that are brought in.
“Every day we operate, we’re getting closer to breaking even at that airport,” Kern said. “We’re moving towards that. To put politics and micromanagement in that would be a mistake, largely as a result of an election coming up in November.”
Cockrell said acknowledged there is development ongoing at the airport, but added taxpayers should have more of a say.
“I find it interesting, politics is not a part of the Public Building Commission,” Cockrell said. “What we have been trying to do is give some direct authority, back to this county board … The facts are, the taxpayers have little or no say about the airport.”
However “at some point, the taxpayers of St. Clair County, are the only ones responsible for the debt there,” Cockrell added.
When Heiligenstein, Stammer, Cockrell and Tiedemann made the same effort in February, they were told they needed to change the intergovernmental agreement between the County Board and public building commission.
The ordinance they proposed was defeated in an 18-10 vote, with the board’s eight Republicans, along with Stammer and Heiligenstein on the losing side.
In other action
▪ New fee: County Board members approved a $5 fee on cases where people have a guilty verdict.
The $5 fee will be added to anyone who is found guilty or granted supervision for an Illinois vehicle code violation or someone found guilty or granted supervision on a felony, misdemeanor, a petty offense or business offense, according to county documents.
Proceeds from the fee would help make up for money that has not come in from the state for probation services.
“This will not cover what the state should be paying us,” Kern said during a recent Finance Committee meeting. “This will be a small portion but it will go towards probation.”
County officials don’t have estimate of how much money the fee would bring in.
In 2015, there were 1,534 felony cases, 6,900 misdemeanor cases, 1,227 DUI cases and 47,219 traffic cases filed in St. Clair County, according to county records obtained by the BND.
Not all charges lead to guilty verdicts, sometimes charges are dropped as part of plea agreements, and not every person found guilty pays fees in a timely manner.
St. Clair County Administrator Debra Moore said it may take a year to determine how much the fee brings in on an annual basis.
“Hopefully this will generate some revenue to assist us in covering the costs,” Moore said.
During the county board meeting, Cockrell pushed for the fee to sunset at the end of 2017. The amendment failed 16-10.
Kern said fee would only bring in several thousand dollars.
“To bring back $4 million the state owes us would take a lot of years,” Kern said. “The sunset after next year would not be fiscally responsible given the state of the way the state reimburses on probation. “
▪ Dog park fence: County Board members approved paying $12,850 to Martin Fence of Mascoutah to put up a fence for the new dog park across the street from Animal Services.
Kern said a vinyl covered chain link fence would be installed.