Editorials

Responsible, prudent and a few years late

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern in 2012 when Allegiant Air announced its return to passenger service at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. County leaders refinanced about $40 million in airport debt over 30 years at a total cost of $88 million.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern in 2012 when Allegiant Air announced its return to passenger service at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. County leaders refinanced about $40 million in airport debt over 30 years at a total cost of $88 million. dholtmann@bnd.com

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern emerged from budget meetings triumphant.

“... the message that comes out of this meeting (is that) the county tightened its belt versus raising taxes,” he proclaimed.

Fiscal responsibility. What a wonderful and appropriate message as county residents wade through the pile of extra holiday bills.

The county pulled off a business-like 10 percent reduction in expenses including personnel cuts via less-painful attrition, plus $260,000 in savings through employee healthcare deductibles and co-pays.

Kern and all the good people in county administration deserve thanks. They’ve not only shown sensible fiscal restraint, they’ve done so by hurdling the obstacles of late state reimbursements. They’ve served constituents by adjusting expenses to meet projected revenue and, in doing so, dodged added tax increases to those who are already over-burdened.

Your prudence will be remembered.

Or course, taxpayers should also remember fiscal decisions that pressed these more responsible steps, namely the refinancing of MidAmerica Airport construction bonds. Kern & Co. propped up that boondoggle with a refinancing that added three decades and $48 million in additional debt that will be inherited by our children and grandchildren.

Go ahead and pound your chest, chairman — you’ve earned the right.

But don’t think your constituents have forgotten the rest.

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