Metro-East News

County Board approves new joint-use agreement with Scott

St. Clair County Board members on Monday approved a new joint-use agreement with Scott Air Force Base.

The agreement would be in place for 25 years. The previous agreement with Scott Air Force Base was signed in September 1991, with one amendment put in place in December 1993.

The joint-use airport of MidAmerica Airport and Scott Air Force Base is one of 10 the Air Force has in the country.

Chairman Mark Kern said the previous agreement was for 50 years, but many things have changed since 1991.

“We’ve grown up together,” said Kern, referring to the Air Force.

Kern added the joint-use concept was fairly new in 1991.

Among the things that have changed since 1991 is the length of MidAmerica’s runway, and MidAmerica now possesses de-icing equipment; security operations also have changed.

The agreement also calls for the county to implement noise mitigating plans at no expense to the Air Force. MidAmerica and the base also agreed to develop a joint security agreement detailing procedures consistent with the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration directives for controlling access to the facilities.

Kern said Scott Air Force being one of the largest employers in the county creates a $3 billion economic impact every year.

“Our number one mission is to be the best joint-use airport in the nation,” Kern said.

Among the changes is when the Air Force starts reimbursing the county for landing at MidAmerica. The new agreement changes the definition of substantial use.

Under the 1991 agreement, substantial use was defined as 100 landings, three days in a row.

Under the new agreement, and Department of Defense definitions and FAA definitions, substantial use is 300 landings or having a gross cumulative weight of 5 million pounds of government aircraft in one month.

“We certainly have landings from Scott,” Kern said.

Airport Director Tim Cantwell said the agreement will allow for shared services to take place between the base and the airport, and for those services to be credited.

He cited removing rubber from the runways, a service the airport does in house.

“This is not an increase in anyone’s cash outlay,” Cantwell said.

According county documents, the new agreement could provide unlimited military use of MidAmerica’s runway, without payment of fees - in exchange for shared use of certain routine Scott Air Force Base services.

Cantwell added if there is substantial use of the MidAmerica runway by the Air Force, there can be a discussion with the base.

“Historically they have always had substantial use,” Cantwell said. “The (base) commander and I have six months to take the variables and agree upon if there is substantial use in the future, what is the cure for that.”

He said it will take time to gather the information.

Other items

▪  Regional Office of Education: The St. Clair County Regional Office of Education received a $500,000 line of credit from the County Board. The ROE is dependent on the state and federal grants totaling about $4.1 million.

“The state implementation of Grants Accountability and Transparency Act, as slowed the release of funds, but we continue to have payroll obligations in order to provide services to students and parents in the St. Clair County,” ROE Superintendent Susan Sarfaty wrote in a letter to the County Board. “The ROE fully anticipates and will strive to avoid using this line of credit. Also we will only use this money to cover grant approved expenses and will access only after exhausting our limited reserves.”

Among the programs the grants cover are Starnet Preschool, math and science partnerships, homeless services, school improvement grants, and safe school programs.

According to documents, the ROE also has made efforts to reduce costs until grant money flows in, including having staff take 10 days of unpaid time off to reduce salary obligations, not holding workshops until money flows in from the state, and not reimbursing travel since July 1.

The state’s Grant Accountability and Transparency Act calls for the state to develop a coordinated, non-redundant process that provides effective and efficient oversight of the selection and monitoring of grant recipients, in order to ensure quality programs and “limit fraud, waste and abuse.”

The law also calls for the establishment of “uniform administrative requirements, cost principles and audit requirements for state and federal pass-through awards to non-federal entities.”

“We’ve gotten in about half the grants, but it’s taking a long time to work through the new process,” Sarfaty said during Monday’s Finance Committee meeting prior to the county board meeting.

▪  Zoning requests: The County Board voted on three zoning requests for proposed businesses.

The County Board approved a used car sales business at 602 First St. in Lenzburg, and an auto body shop at 4447 Knab Road in Smithton.

County Board members also denied a dog kennel along the 8600 block of Illinois 163 is near a residential area.