MILWAUKEE - Noting Foxconn's
announced expansion into the region, Milwaukee County Executive
Chris Abele proposed a new terminal for foreign flights at General
Mitchell International Airport as part of his 2018 budget plan
presented Thursday at the airport.
"With the anticipated
economic impact of the Foxconn development, passenger travel and
freight shipments are only expected to increase at Mitchell," Abele
said in his statement.
Earlier this month, Gov.
Scott Walker approved $3 billion in incentives for the Taiwanese
electronics maker to build a massive $10 billion plant for
manufacturing flat screens. Sites in Racine County, south of the
airport operated by Milwaukee County, have been considered.
The goal is to demolish the E
Concourse in 2018, the airport's oldest concourse, and replace it
with a terminal with multiple gates that can handle more flights,
increase passenger satisfaction and comfort, and house all necessary
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol services, Abele said. The terminal
could be expanded as passenger traffic increases, he added.
Abele's spending plan
includes more than $25 million in borrowing and airport funds to
begin designing a new international terminal for General Mitchell
International Airport. He said "the airport will design and
construct a new international terminal, at no additional cost to the
County Supervisor Jason Haas,
whose district includes the airport, said: "I'm not convinced it's a
good idea to add $25 million to the county's debt to build a new
terminal for a private corporation that has already received $3
billion in taxpayer financed incentives."
Abele noted 10 new nonstop
routes were added in the last year at the airport, including to
Guadalajara, Mexico. The county executive anticipates more
"Milwaukee County is working
with airlines to expand international flights to other points across
the globe to meet the business and recreational travel of the
citizens of Wisconsin and Northern Illinois," he said.
The new terminal design is
intended to be expandable so the airport can add to its
international capacity in the future as passenger traffic increases.
Abele's 646-page budget
proposal also includes paying for roads, bridges and transit with a
$60 vehicle registration fee, up from the $30 wheel tax enacted last
year on Milwaukee County residents. In a spring nonbinding
referendum, voters opposed the $30 wheel tax by about 72 percent.
Other proposed spending by
Abele includes $1.1 million in response to the opioid crisis for the
Medical Examiner's Office and County Behavioral Health Division. Of
the total, he slated $900,000 for community-based treatment options
and $200,000 for an advanced mass spectrometer instrument to cut the
testing time for opioids and other drugs from weeks to hours.