Wheeling and Prospect Heights are close to selecting a new chairman for the Chicago Executive Airport board and settling other major disagreements over the airport the two municipalities co-own, leaders report.
Wheeling Village President Dean Argiris on Monday nominated Robert McKenzie, a tax attorney who lives in the village, to serve as chairman of the airport's board. McKenzie, who keeps a plane at the airport, impressed Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer when he appeared before the city council Monday night.
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"He has good qualifications, and I don't think (his appointment) will be a problem," Helmer said. "He applied for the position, and Dean (Argiris) passed him on to me. I think it's a winner."
However, Helmer said city aldermen want McKenzie to meet with the members of the airport board before they approve his appointment. Helmer hopes approval will come at the council's next meeting, Nov. 12.
Argiris said this week that he supports McKenzie for the position.
"Nick and I got together at the recent National Business Aviation Association's annual meeting in Las Vegas and had good camaraderie," he said. "We're planning to get together, work together."
For two years leaders of the two communities have been unable to agree on a chairman for the airport's board. The towns each appoint three of the panel's six other members. Prior to McKenzie, Argiris and Helmer have rejected each other's chairman candidates.
Other airport-related disputes include a lawsuit Prospect Heights filed to get a share of sales taxes from businesses operating on the Wheeling side of the airport. The towns even disagreed on how to handle the serious illness of the airport manager.
Helmer downplayed the differences Tuesday, calling them "technical." He hopes the lawsuit will be settled soon, and agrees with Argiris that the airport board should have control over the manager, even to the extent of hiring and firing.
Helmer attributed his prior "ambivalence" to that change to his desire to prioritize naming a new chairman. He said his council will talk about changes in the agreement at the Nov. 12 meeting and would like that to be a joint meeting with the Wheeling Village Board.