County Council approves grant to make Lambert Airport an international cargo hub

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by John Knicely

KMOV.com

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 4 at 9:46 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Three million dollars in taxpayer money appears destined to the effort to turn Lambert Airport into an international cargo hub.  On Tuesday, April 10, the St. Louis County Council will vote to approve a $3 Million state grant.  The preliminary vote passed 5-2 this past Tuesday.  The council’s 2 republican members voted against.

Council Chair Michael O’Mara (D) says they have been assured the money will go solely to international freight and not administrative costs or consultants.  The Port Authority and customs will be in charge of making sure the money goes only to companies as they ship international freight in and out of Lambert Airport.

Companies will get a 30 Cent break on manufactured goods and 35 Cents off agricultural goods.

Several efforts to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars on developing an international hub have failed.  Councilman Steve Stenger (D) is skeptical of this effort, but he will vote in favor of the money because it will free up money for another project in his district. 

“The administration is foolish to think this is going to draw international freight,” said Stenger.  He says he’s comfortable voting for it because of the provisions to make sure the money is used freight coming off planes and being loaded onto planes.

Councilwoman Kathleen Burkett (D) says more infrastructure is definitely needed to establish Lambert as an international cargo hub.  But she dismisses the idea that this grant is part of a piecemeal effort.  “That may be what some people feel,” she said.  “I think it’s better than nothing.”

Asked if she believed this $3 Million grant would draw international cargo, she said, “I absolutely do.”

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