ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A proposed bill would allow the Chicago Rockford International Airport to expand its corporate authority and tax thousands of additional people in the county where it's located.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Bellville, introduced the legislation, the Rockford Register Star reported. Regional airports in Moline and Bloomington would also have the ability to expand their property tax reach to the entire counties where they're located.

The Rockford airport currently levies property taxes in Rockford, Machesney Park, Loves Park and a portion of land west of Rockford city limits at a tax rate of 11 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Thousands of people living in Winnebago County but outside the airport's corporate limits are benefiting from the jobs and economic development the airport provides without paying taxes to support it, said Mike Dunn, the airport's executive director.

Widening the airport's property tax reach in Winnebago County could provide an estimated $1 million annually, Dunn said.

"As an airport authority we get 95 percent of our funding from the state and the feds," Dunn said. "But that's tightening up, so we're being forced to look at alternatives now."

Dunn said he's speaking with area lawmakers to gauge their support on the bill.

"Based on those conversations, and if the airport staff or I decide to proceed, then we'll make a recommendation to the board in March," Dunn said. "If we don't like what we're hearing, we'll pull out" of the bill.

The Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington would lower its property tax rate to collect the same amount of taxes dispersed among a larger pool of taxpayers, said Carl Olson, the airport's director.

The Bloomington airport would've benefited from a similar bill introduced last year, but the bill didn't move forward.


Information from: Rockford Register Star,