The city again has opted to sign agreements for the transfer of entitlements with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division for improvements to the St. Clair Regional Airport.
St. Clair’s four aldermen unanimously approved the ordinance during their most recent meeting earlier this month. It allows MoDOT to take St. Clair off of its list of entities vying for the latest round of state airport improvement funds.
The funds in question are from calendar year 2011.
“This is the same ordinance we’ve passed in recent years,” Assistant City Administrator Travis Dierker said. “It surrenders MoDOT airport improvement funds for 2011.”
Mayor Ron Blum said MoDOT can use the money for other airports that are requesting funds to make improvements.
In a nutshell, the approved ordinance means that since St. Clair is hoping to close its regional airport upon approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, it told MoDOT it doesn’t want to be in the running to receive federal aviation funding from calendar year 2011. City officials could have applied to receive up to $150,000 for airport improvement projects.
In June, City Administrator Rick Childers received a letter from Amy Ludwig, MoDOT’s administer of aviation, saying St. Clair’s window for applying for these funds is coming to an end.
“As of today, our office shows you have an unexpended balance of $150,000 in 2011,” Ludwig’s letter reads. “If you will not be able to move forward with an eligible project before Sept. 30, 2014, please sign and complete the enclosed ‘Agreement for Transfer of Entitlements’ forms and return to our office no later than July 7.
“Completing and submitting this form will allow MoDOT to fund priority projects during this construction season that are ready to go and will ensure that all NPE (non-priority entitlement funds) is utilized at Missouri airports.”
City Administrator Rick Childers has said in the past that the available money is part of a grant program, “but it is a competitive grant program.”
In order to receive any of the funding, the city still would have to apply, just like any other airport sponsor. There is no guarantee funds would be directed to St. Clair, even if city officials wanted them.
The city continues to await word from the FAA on whether it will allow the 80-acre airport located on the north side of the city to be closed. City officials want to use the property for retail development.
Closure must be granted by the FAA because St. Clair has used some of the grant money in the past, as late as 2006, to make improvements to the facility.
In May, after two years and several decision deadline extensions, the FAA ruled the city of St. Clair was not in violation of its federal obligations in regards to its regional airport as alleged in a complaint filed by one of the tenants.
A letter dated May 20 was sent to airport tenant Jim DeVries of Pacific, who filed the complaint with the FAA in May 2012, and to City Attorney Kurt Voss. A copy was forwarded to the city’s administration and to The Missourian.
In theory, the complaint dismissal means the FAA now can work toward making a decision on St. Clair’s request to close the airport on the north side of the city. Closing the airport has been a priority for Mayor Ron Blum and his administration since he was elected in 2007.
At about the same time as the FAA’s first complaint dismissal, DeVries, indicated he has sent a new complaint to the FAA regarding operations at the local facility.
The complaint addresses revenue diversion and undocumented insurance cost for the airport.