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updated: 1/21/2013 4:32 PM

DuPage Airport to collect fewer property taxes

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  • The DuPage Airport Authority has announced it will abate $500,000 of the $5.9 million in property taxes it plans to collect this year.

      The DuPage Airport Authority has announced it will abate $500,000 of the $5.9 million in property taxes it plans to collect this year.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

The DuPage Airport Authority is continuing efforts to reduce its reliance on property taxes by agreeing to abate $500,000 of this year's $5.9 million levy.

Approved by the authority board, the abatement comes one year after the panel decided to permanently reduce the West Chicago airport's property tax levy.

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Dan Goodwin, chairman of the authority board, said in a statement that the abatement shows a government agency can save tax dollars and improve operations "by applying sound and ethical business principles."

"At a time when most units of government are scrambling to find additional dollars to shore up their budgets, the DuPage Airport Authority has continued its commitment to the taxpayers to reduce their tax burden," Goodwin said.

Twenty years ago, the airport levied $20 million in property taxes. Last year, its levy was permanently lowered from $6.4 million to $5.9 million.

Officials say they have been able to reduce the levy by generating other sources of revenue, cutting costs and eliminating debt.

The airport, for example, has saved money by adopting new procurement policies, eliminating middle-management positions and implementing cost controls.

"We have been able to operate efficiently," said David Bird, the airport authority's executive director. "If you look at the aviation side, we are making a profit."

One of the airport's related activities -- the Prairie Landing Golf Club -- also made money last year, Bird said.

Authority officials are struggling to attract tenants to the nearly vacant DuPage Business Center, which is just south of the airport. But while the 800-acre business park is being developed more slowly than anticipated, Bird said "over time it's going to generate a substantial revenue stream" for the airport.

Another advantage for the airport is that it's debt-free and has an estimated $20 million in cash reserves. Less than a decade ago, the airport was losing money and carrying a $23 million debt load, officials said.

"We're in a very healthy financial condition," Bird said. "That's why we can contemplate the continued reduction of taxes."

Officials say the ultimate goal is to someday end the airport's reliance on property tax dollars. Last year, the owner of a $250,000 house paid about $13 in property taxes to the airport authority.

All the property tax money the authority collects is set aside to help pay for improvements to the airport, including a planned $9 million widening of the primary runway in 2014 and construction of a new $1 million fire station this year.

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