In following the advice of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division, the St. Clair Board of Aldermen last week approved a payment of $11,700 from the city’s general fund to the new, separate airport account to compensate for use of the maintenance hangar at the facility.

The payment is the third such transfer into the separate account, which also was recommended by MoDOT Aviation as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, since it was created last month.

All told, nearly $17,000 of nonbudgeted funds has been moved out of the city’s general fund into the airport account as St. Clair officials continue to follow the advice of the state and federal agencies as it seeks closure of the facility on the north side of town between Interstate 44 and Highway 47.

The city has used the maintenance hangar at the St. Clair Regional Airport to store equipment, most of which is mowers and other things that have been used to maintain the facility. However, City Administrator Rick Childers told the aldermen last week that a 4- by 4-foot pallet which stored two wastewater pumps also was inside the hangar.

“This situation was referred to MoDOT Aviation, and MoDOT Aviation suggests that the city remove the items and pay to the airport fund — that would be the city paying to the airport owned by the city — money to compensate the airport owned by the city for storing things that belong to the city in the airport owned by the city,” Childers said during the Feb. 19 meeting.

Childers said the “magic number” amount of $11,700 was determined through a $325 per month rent payment for three years.

The city administrator added that the only “real-world impact” the transaction has is it will be less money the city has to spend later to subsidize the airport. He also said that the check will be written as a rent payment.

Since at least 2007, the local airport has operated in the red.

Currently, the mowers and other items remain in the maintenance hangar. Childers said everything in the hangar except for the two pumps will be sold at an auction later this year. The mowing equipment includes a brush hog, garden tractors, a trailer and some push mowers.

Maintenance Hangar

The maintenance hangar and the city’s use of it for storage previously was discussed in late 2010 when the city decided that if the hangar ever was rented to an outside party, the fee would be $325 per month.

In December of that year, the aldermen approved an ordinance establishing the $325 per month rate. At the time, however, City Attorney Kurt Voss said that even if there is an ordinance establishing the rental rate, it would be up to the city on whether it wants to rent the facility or not.

“You don’t have to rent it if you decide you want to use it,” he said, adding that because the city owns the building it serves as the landlord.

Officials decided that the city would continue to use the hangar to store its own equipment.

The city is seeking to close the airport on the north side of town and replace it with retail development. Permission is needed from the FAA because the city obtained federal grants to make improvements to the facility.