Council accepts grant for Lambert Hub effort
The St. Louis County Council gave final approval Tuesday night to accept a $3 million grant to assist efforts to attract more international cargo to Lambert St. Louis-International Airport.
The council approved by a 5-1 vote a bill allowing St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley to accept a $3 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Lemay.
The St. Louis County Port Authority will use the grant “to support air freight incentives at Lambert from its casino lease revenue.” That funding is supposed to jumpstart the Midwest Hub Commission, a reconfigured group aiming to restart an effort to transform Lambert-St. Louis International Airport into an international cargo hub. Efforts to pass state incentives faltered last year, most recently during a largely unsuccessful special session of the General Assembly.
Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Town and Country, was the only member of the council to vote against the measure. Councilman Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin, had voted against the initial passage of the measure but was absent at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I think generally when it was initially discussed a few years ago, it has potential and promise for St. Louis County,” Wasinger said after the council meeting. “And I think if the state and the county can work together to make it happen under firmer terms, it’s definitely worth considering as a long-term investment and a way of bringing in revenues into the county – which are much needed obviously.”
But Wasinger said that the county “needs a state commitment and we need it now before we go forward.”
“Their motives are pure – they want to bring a good business opportunity to the county,” said Wasinger, referring to the newly formed Midwest Hub Commission. “However, we can’t continue to fund something intermittently or indefinitely unless we know for sure it’s going to go forward.”
“It’s a Band-Aid,” she added. “What just happened is a Band-Aid until the state legislature takes up the issue, which I don’t believe will happen this session.”
The bill now goes to Dooley for his expected signature.