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posted: 1/16/2013 10:49 AM

Wheeling, Prospect Heights at odds over airport leadership

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  • JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com Leaders of Wheeling and Prospect Heights, which together own Chicago Executive Airport, are at odds over who should lead the board that governs the facility.

      JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com Leaders of Wheeling and Prospect Heights, which together own Chicago Executive Airport, are at odds over who should lead the board that governs the facility.

  • John DeJoris

      John DeJoris

  • David Kolssak

      David Kolssak

 
 

Leaders of the two communities that own Chicago Executive Airport are at odds over who should head the facility's governing board.

Prospect Heights Mayor Nicholas Helmer introduced his candidate for the job, John DeJoris, at Monday night's city council meeting and took a "straw poll" asking aldermen to support him. DeJoris owns Aircraft Propeller Service, a Wheeling-based aviation repair business.

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But Wheeling Village Board President Judy Abruscato said Tuesday she is backing David Kolssak, a Wheeling businessman who is vice chairman of the airport's governing board, for the post.

Abruscato said she did not know that Helmer planned to introduce DeJoris in public.

"If that happened I have a problem with that," she said. "He knows I want Kolssak for the chairman. He's the most qualified. (Kolssak) knows everything about the airport."

Kolssak, owner of TURNkey Information Technology, was one of two candidates who ran against Abruscato for Wheeling village president in 2009.

Helmer said he was not trying to pressure Abruscato, but the search for a chairman has been too long and "we need to make a decision." Former chairman Allan Engelhardt's term ended late in 2011, though he continued to serve an additional year, said Helmer.

DeJoris said he has been flying since 1962 and praised Chicago Executive Airport as one of the best in the Midwest, calling it "a shining example of what governments can do when they cooperate." A Mundelein resident, DeJoris said he previously chaired the Green Oaks Zoning Board of Appeals and worked on a committee for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Prospect Heights First Ward Alderman Luis Mendez voted against DeJoris, questioning whether his business ties to the airport present a conflict of interest.

DeJoris responded that most of his company's $25 million business is with the U.S. military and commercial companies like Federal Express. Only 7 or 8 percent of his business involves smaller airplanes, and that is with companies at airports throughout the Midwest. He said he does very little business at Chicago Executive.

The disagreement over the board's next chairman could be part of a larger dispute between Wheeling and Prospect Heights.

Prospect Heights officials say Wheeling refuses to share sales tax revenues from businesses at the airport, especially those providing airplane fuel. Helmer said the agreement setting up the airport's governance states both municipalities will share the revenue.

He estimates that since 2005 the total of disputed funds is about $1 million, and Prospect Heights claims approximately 50 percent.

Most of the businesses at the airport are geographically in the village of Wheeling.

Abruscato said she will not discuss that dispute.

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