CIRA seeks to expand tax base; Barickman wants more discussion

Central Illinois Regional Airport
Central Illinois Regional Airport is getting some pushback over its proposal to expand its tax base. (WJBC file photo)


BLOOMINGTON – Central Illinois Regional Airport is looking to broaden it’s tax base in the event lawmakers don’t come through with their promises.

CIRA director Carl Olson said the airport has a funding problem.

“It’s become an annual fight and an annual lobbying effort to try and get this continual funding to be provided for our contract tower services,” Olson said.

CIRA receives a large chunk of its funding from state and federal sources, but Twin Cities’ property owners also pay into the pot. Olson would like to see that tax base expand to include all of McLean County.

“The revenue each year would be the same, it simply would be collected across a broader number of people in the county, therefore reducing the individual rate,” Olson said.

Average Bloomington-Normal homeowners would see their property tax bills decrease by around $20, but county residents would see a new tax of nearly $50 on their yearly bills.

There are only two ways for CIRA to change its tax base, either a voter referendum or through the state legislature.

In a letter to the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority, State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said he would not advance legislation to expand the taxing body.

“While the expansion of the taxing district could reduce the per-household tax burden of supporting the facility, it also would create a new tax on thousands of additional families throughout McLean County,” Barickman wrote “I believe this idea still needs more study and discussion.”

Olson said he’ll continue to advocate for the county-wide tax so his airport can plan for the future.

“This would put a tool in the board member’s toolbox to adjust the tax rate as needed to cover the air traffic control costs,” Olson said.

CIRA isn’t alone in trying to increase their tax base. The Quad Cities airport is also looking to expand it’s levy to all of Rock Island County.


Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…