Cape airport funding increases by $42,000

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The lieutenant governor will also sign a bill providing for military families on Monday.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Cape Girardeau Regional Airport stands to receive an extra $42,000 a year from the state to help fund its air traffic control tower under legislation Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is scheduled to sign into law on Monday.

"When you are talking about a small airport like that with limited traffic, every little bit helps," Kinder said. "Our airport is an enormous asset for us."

Current law caps the amount of state money the city-owned airport receives through a grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation at $125,000 a year. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jason Crowell, raises that cap to $167,000 annually. Although MoDOT has discretion to provide an amount lower than the cap, Crowell said he doesn't expect that to occur.

"I am quite confident that for the foreseeable future the Cape airport will be able to secure the full $167,000," said Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau.

Airport manager Bruce Loy said it costs approximately $210,000 a year to maintain and operate the tower. Loy said the increased state reimbursement will allow the city to purchase new equipment to upgrade the tower and allow it to redirect some of the local money spent on the facility toward general airport improvements.

The tower is the only one in the state operated by a municipality, and the only one to receive a direct state subsidy, Crowell said. Towers at other Missouri airports are operated by either the Federal Aviation Administration or private entities.

The bill also extends to 2013 the funding mechanism for providing grants for the Cape Girardeau tower and capital improvements at other rural airports. That revenue stream had been set to expire in 2008.

Kinder will sign the bill at the airport at 9 a.m. Monday. It is one of two measures he will sign while Gov. Matt Blunt is in Boston attending a meeting of the Republican Governors Association.

On Tuesday in St. Louis, Kinder will sign legislation creating the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund, which he helped push for in the legislature.

The fund will be administered by the Missouri National Guard and provide financial assistance to struggling families with members serving on active military duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"This is emphatically not charity," Kinder said. "This is for a job well done."

Funding will be provided through state appropriations and contributions Missourians voluntarily provide when filling out their income tax returns. Kinder said the bill is modeled on a similar Illinois law.

The bills are SB 396 (airport) and HB 437 (military families).

mpowers@semissourian.com

(573) 635-4608

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