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St. Clair County Officials Defend MidAmerica Airport Expenses

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MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) — Costs linked with the struggling MidAmerica St. Louis Airport have piled up for county taxpayers, with more than $1.6 million spent since 2008 on consultants and other fees, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Belleville News-Democrat says those fees incurred between January 2008 and July 2011 include travel and lodging costs associated with promoting the airport in the St.Clair County town of Mascoutah, about 25 miles east of St. Louis.

The airport has had trouble getting off the ground as a passenger and cargo hub since opening in 1998. With passenger service gone since 2009, promoters want to establish MidAmerica as an international cargo hub for business with China.

The county’s public building commission chairman told the newspaper that an important announcement is coming soon showing that consultant fees have been worth it. Chairman Rich Sauget Sr.told the paper that “all our work will come to fruition veryshortly.” “We are working with some very strong eventual clients, or partners or leasees for our airport,” he said, but declined to elaborate.

Jim Nations, the building commission’s vice chairman, said the county is targeting importers and exporters, and that consultants have allowed the airport to be “still in the game” in China. “Without their input we wouldn’t have been.”

Copyright Associated Press

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