MASCOUTAH, Ill. (KMOX) - It was a major factor in the county finishing the year in the red but St. Clair County’s top official is sticking by Mascoutah’s long-maligned Mid-America Airport.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern says that while the county’s $8.2 million asset decrease last year mirrored Mid-America’s losses, several factors played a role.
“The sales tax being flat, caused by the recession, property taxes being lower than they were before. There are a number of items that are affecting the bottom line right now,” he said.
Kern argues that the airport has helped keep Scott Air Force Base open, has attracted a couple hundred jobs, and is receiving a $1 million Federal Aviation Administration grant as a reward after Allegiant Airlines attracted 10,000 passengers.
While costly, Kern argues Mid-America is better open than if it closed.
“We would be responsible for the repayment of the present market value of that facility which is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The interest payments on that alone would be far greater than any amount we’ve put into the airport at this time,” Kern said.