Mascoutah, Ill. (KMOX) – The Director of struggling MidAmerica Airport gets a raise—raising a few eyebrows.
Tim Cantwell received a 4.8 percent raise to make just under $128,000 to run an airport with 14 employees and an annual deficit of $1.4 million.
“I don’t think any corporation could justify paying an individual this kind of money for that job,” said St. Clair County Board member Frank Heiligenstein of Freeburg. It was the county Building Commission which oversees the airport—and not the county board, which approved Cantwell’s pay hike.
Defending Cantwell’s work, County Board Chairman Mark Kern says the airport director has helped bring in Allegiant Airlines which is sending two flights to Orlando twice a week. Kern says Cantwell has also been instrumental in the work to establish North Bay Produce at the airport. That firm imports and exports produce. MidAmerica also has a Boeing facility on site which employes “about a hundred” workers making “$70,000 or more a year,” Kern said.
Most of the flights coming and going at MidAmerica are military. Kern explains that under the “joint use” designation that allowed federal grants to build MidAmerica, it provides runways and de-icing services for Scott Airforce aircraft at no charge.
Kern says while the goal is to eventually make MidAmerica stop losing money, the director’s salary and the $1.4 million deficit must be seen in contrast to the $300 million the county would be forced to repay to the federal government, if MidAmerica were to close.
“The path we’re on is the fiscally responsible one,” Kern said.
Meanwhile, Aviation Consultant Michael Boyd of the Boyd Group says Cantwell’s salary is “about average” for an airport that size. But Boyd adds, “MidAmerica should never have been built,” and he describes its ongoing existence as,
“a couple of runways on hospice.”
KMOX reached out to Cantwell for his comment. He did not return our call.
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