PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –
At a meeting held December 19, 2016, the Edgar County Airport Zoning Commission voted to recommend an Airport Zoning Ordinance to the Edgar County Board for their approval.
This, despite opposition from nearly every person attending the meeting, and a promise from the first zoning hearing that they would schedule another hearing after the draft ordinance was published. They did publish the draft ordinance, but never had another hearing.
The county’s need for zoning was brought to light when it was finally revealed that Edgar County had no zoning for its airport, and consequently could not receive any further federal or state funding for projects at the airport. Robert Bogue did his civic duty (as any good citizen should do) and filed a complaint with the FAA and IDOT, who did additional research and came to the same conclusion we did – that Edgar County was required to have zoning before receiving any more state or federal funds, due to potential violations of grant assurance for their past projects.
State and Federal law require their investments be protected and zoning is required according to grant assurances and state law.
If the county board approves this zoning ordinance, it will finally bring Edgar County in compliance with past grant assurance requirements, in compliance with the legal requirement to obtain funding, and will enable them to receive funding thru state and federal grants.
This Ordinance requires landowners within a certain radius of the airport to seek approval from Illinois Department of Transportation – Division of Aeronautics prior to making changes in building, land use, water use, producing smoke, and setting off fireworks, just to name a few of the required pre-authorizations.
The immediate project, which the board has been trying to accomplish for the past three years, involve an apron extension, moving the fuel farm, and installing a credit card reader for pilots to purchase fuel even when the airport office is closed. The only “real” need is for the credit card reader.
Past attempts at obtaining this grant have been halted by Illinois Department of Transportation – Division of Aeronautics, and the Federal Aviation Administration when they were informed of the alleged grant application fraud when the past airport manager, Jimmy Wells, assisted the Hanson Engineering firm in falsifying documents to somehow qualify for the grants.
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Robert O. BoguePosted at 23:50h, 23 December
You are Correct. The only reason zoning has become an issue in Edgar County, is because all FAA funding has been halted until our county becomes compliant with an Illinois Law. A law that requires the same before an airport can be expanded.
This zoning discussion and ordinance is not about protecting Edgar County landowner values against utility power lines, cell tower construction, confinement livestock operations or any other action which would devalue Edgar County taxpayer property. It is only about protecting a government investment in an airport expansion or improvement for a period of 20 years and beyond.
Here’s why we should not zone and then automatically receive a 1.3 million dollar expansion for our airport….
Fuel sales at our airport has declined to a fraction of what it once was: there little or no activity in terms of take offs and landings: and there are as few as 6 Edgar County Taxpayers owning aircraft, storing them at our airport and flying them on a regular basis.
The worst part is financial.
Edgar County already provides a budget for our airport to operate on. In this case it’s been $80K annually: and in addition to that, there is income generated from hanger and land leases associated with the airport. This additional amount has been $60K. This totals $140K.
If this zoning measure is passed by the county board…$140,000.00 of Edgar County Taxpayer money will leave the county this year….and our bankrupt state will borrow matching funds…to the tune of $60,000.00 …and our bankrupt federal government will do the same for an additional $1.2 million dollars. All for an unneeded project.
Some have alleged this project is paid for with free money, but as you can see there is $200K of Illinois resident tax dollars invested in this project in this year alone.
Funds…not as alleged, not free money from airplind passenger ticket sales or from aircraft fuel sales…just $200K of our Illinois tax dollars.
Some even say, not only is it free money but it’s cycled in our community as much as 7 times. But let’s think about that.
After Forty years of the Edgar County Taxpayer funding this airport…and with all of this free money falling all around us, with all of the recycling..why aren’t we prosperous? Do the business and properties our courthouse square appear to be representative of prosperity?
There’s more bad news. IN this agreement, we’re also guaranteeing to protect, maintain and operate the airport in it’s present fashion…for the next 20 years.
This is pretty easy math. Twenty years times $140,000 of local tax dollars…and as it turns out….we’re now making a $2.8 million dollar commitment to keep the airport open…and all for the 6 or so local aviators that own, hanger and fly their aircraft at our airport.
AND now we’re now at a cross roads..in terms of pre-existing financial agreements with the feds and at a very unique opportune moment.
Since all previous expansion funding was done illegally: a fact which had driven the State of Illinois to withhold all funding until zoning is passed…it now begs the question, are agreements made outside Illinois Law binding? Not likely.
Previous finding agreements required the same 20 year agreement to operate the airport which, now appear to no longer be binding because of the State’s most recent action.
So, lets suppose for a moment we don’t have an airport. Not all Illinois counties have airports…some rely on neighboring counties for their airport needs.
Fortunately, Edgar County is centered between 3 larger airports with one of which less than 20 miles distant. Yes, we can do this.
You know, there are other ways to spend our $80,000.00. For example…
–We could make $80K payments for each of the next five years and pay off the Counties old outstanding debt: which is over $400K.
–In the following five years we could make $80K payments each year and pay off the new court house roof that we’ve been told must be replaced.
— In the following 20 years we could make $80K payments for each year and pay off the new jail. Our jail is no longer large enough to house all of the prisoners, it’s outdated and the State of Illinois has us on notice of it’s need for replacement.
This is a 30 year plan for financial solvency and these are all needs this county must pay for and that can’t be avoided.
The county could even sell the airport to a private interest, use the funds to support law enforcement, provide a new jail, and return the land to a taxable status and ultimately income for the county.
This private interest could provide all of the same services now offered to Edgar County Residents and at no cost to the Edgar County Taxpayers.
But that’s not all….
For the past two years our sheriff has blown his operating budget…with the past year to the tune of something like $70K.
Edgar County has increased all service fees in the past two years, raised real estate taxes, implemented a local 1% sales tax, sold off the mass transit system (adding $150K in cash flow into the budget): and presently has the Kreckman building appraised and is talking a sale.
The reality of it all, is that raising taxes really isn’t an option…Illinois already leads the nation doing that.
Indiana residents that work here refuse to move into our state…because our taxes are too high.
Same as our debt. Indiana has a 2 billion dollar cash reserve… Illinois owes substantially more than that, is behind on paying it’s bills and has residents leaving the state in droves.
The narrative today should not be how to guarantee funding…or how to throw more good money after bad at an airport with a horrible reputation…perhaps it should be focused on closing our airport.
Closing it because it’s too expensive, and costly a facility in a county that simply can no longer afford to pay it’s bills, maintain it’s courthouse and fund law enforcement.
Say no to zoning…consider all reasonable financial options and save the Edgar County Taxpayer.
Sandy GrayPosted at 19:12h, 24 December
Just how much must the land owners around continue to sacrifice? This will be just the start of the snowball effect. This airport will never be a big airport, we do not need to spend $100-200 thousand for a dozen or so planes. It’s a waste of money and will continue to burden the land owners and tenants in the area. If they have so much money burning a hole in their pockets find a better way to invest it in.
former illinois redidentPosted at 08:33h, 25 December
Robert : You are right about Indiana .I was born and lived in Illinois for 48 years but now live in Indiana . I have a 2800 sq.ft log cabin built in 1999 at heritage lake , Fillmore Indiana . My property taxes are $850.00 per year and the cost of living is much better because we have competition of walmarts , dollar stores and krogers everywhere within 13 to 20 miles . I am sure that corruption is even in this state but not to the degree of Illinois and even the small schools in the small town of Fillmore puts the schools in Paris to shame and most have triple A ratings . I don’t miss Illinois but I do miss some of the people but enjoy the benefits of a state that is not as corrupt as Illinois . I know most of the board members at the airport and the county and an very disappointed in them because they weren’t such lowlifes and greedy in school as they have turned out to be .
WilliamPosted at 16:27h, 25 January
Make up your mind Rob…you’ve flip flopped so many times now, no one can tell what you really want. It is apparent that helping the county is the least of your concerns.
Tom MurphyPosted at 15:07h, 03 May
Robert states that “Edgar County already provides a budget for our airport to operate on. In this case it’s been $80K annually: and in addition to that, there is income generated from hanger and land leases associated with the airport. This additional amount has been $60K.”
So if the airport budget is $80K annually and the airport generates $60K from the hanger and land leases then $80K – $60K = $20k. An airport that costs the taxpayer $20k annually seems to be pretty inexpensive to me.
Robert O. BoguePosted at 17:51h, 03 May
Well Tom Murhpy…that’s the problem with modern math and free money, looks are deceiving.
The airport income revenue has never been used to offset the $80,000 budget at least not that I’m aware of over the past 10 years. You can FOIA that.
Historically the 60k or whatever the actual amount is…is kept away from the general fund and spent on the counties portion of FAA projects to insure concrete will be poured at our airport or for other perceived needs at the airport. None of it is returned to the general fund.
Notice the “FAA” projects require a commitment to maintain and protect the FAA’s investment for the next 20 years. ($60k + $80k = $140K in tax payer revenue X 20 years = $2.8 million.
Like it or not…$140,000.00 of tax payer dollars are committed to the Edgar County Airport each year.
It would of course, be great if they would reimburse the counties budget, with the airport revenues collected; return the land they illegally purchase from unwilling land owners and in violation of the Illinois Law…but that has yet to happened.
As a county, we would be far better off to sell the airport to a private interest, return the land to tax generating status, use the proceeds to pay off our $400k+ in long term debt, fix our court house roof and fund a new jail.