Editorials

We don’t need deputies. We need really big cargo planes

The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department is short one deputy per shift. The county budget for the coming year is no help.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department is short one deputy per shift. The county budget for the coming year is no help. dholtmann@bnd.com

St. Clair County plans to spend $35.8 million in the coming year — an extra $2.4 million — but there’s no room in the budget for employee raises.

County workers already make 25 percent less than their peers in Madison County. Now a year of wage freeze will put them farther behind.

The top expectation of most county taxpayers is that their dollars keep them safe. Sheriff Rick Watson saw a 10 percent cut in 2016, and is going into 2018 with deputy contracts expiring and no money for raises.

Besides needing an additional deputy per shift, the jail population is growing and there will be less money for public defenders to work to get them processed out of the jail.

The state still owes the county $5.3 million for probation services. Another $2.9 million in special funds did or will evaporate.

But the county has an extra $1.5 million for parks.

And don’t forget our favorite county expenditure: MidAmerica Airport. It needed $8.29 million in 2016 from county taxpayers to keep going, bringing the grand total subsidy to $89.4 million.

They are planning to expand the terminal. They will build “blast pads” to handle Boeing 747 planes.

747s? Really? Did we suddenly fall into the Wayback Machine and find ourselves in 1990 when Jumbo Jets were the rage?

All the airlines are retiring the big, fuel hogs capable of carrying 500 passengers. That means our county’s airport business experts are betting on cargo from their friends in Ningbo, China.

Remember, they already spent $2.7 million on consultants chasing that dream. Ningbo is in the midst of a major, multi-billion-dollar expansion that means little MidAmerica isn’t even a blip on their radar.

No raises, too few deputies, more park land and an even larger subsidy for the airport ahead? That’s your future as you allow Crazy Kaiser Kern and his mixed-up priorities to rule this land.

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