You have to admire St Cloud airport supporters: after 51 years of running a money losing proposition, they still aren’t ready to give up.
The city of St Cloud operates an airport (the only municipal airport in the state) that requires $875,000 in city taxes each year to keep operating for one airline with intermittent service. The St Cloud airport’s annual operating budget is $1.05 million, meaning that without taxpayer support, there would be no airport. Considering the extremely low number of passengers that pass through the airport, that might be a sign that it’s time to close it down.
Yet in an effort to spread the cost of running an airport that has very little use, local elected officials have enlisted the support of the three surrounding counties: Benton, Sherburne and Stearns to all chip in to help defray the costs of keeping the “sixth largest airport” in Minnesota open for business.
For your consideration: in 2018, 40,821 passengers used the airport to depart or arrive via St Cloud. That’s a per passenger taxpayer subsidy of $24.50.
St Cloud officials have tried and failed at attracting additional regional airlines to the airport. The fact is St Cloud is just too close to the state’s primary airport in Minneapolis that serves over 38 million passengers each year, making it the 17th busiest airport in North America.
It’s time to cut your losses, St Cloud. Surrounding taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize a local luxury item like a city-run airport.