Wheeling and Prospect Heights celebrated burying the hatchet over Chicago Executive Airport Friday at the annual State of the City and Village address to the Wheeling/Prospect Heights Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Both Mayor Nick Helmer of Prospect Heights and Village President Dean Argiris of Wheeling talked about the new era of cooperation between the two communities reached in 2013. They settled arguments about the airport that got so bad Prospect Heights sued Wheeling over tax sharing from business there.
"We have got to work together," said Helmer. "We are not only partners, we are friends and good neighbors to each other, not just with the airport but with other issues. We are one team."
Argiris, making his first address since his election almost a year ago, agreed, saying "personalities are tough. It was tough getting down there and getting things resolved."
Both leaders also emphasized the importance of job creation.
Helmer said the new and expanded businesses in Prospect Heights have brought 400 jobs, and Argiris said sales tax revenues -- which help decrease the need for property taxes -- are up 11 percent in Wheeling.
"Our motto and goal is to be business-friendly. We have to be," said Argiris, highlighting planned development at the village-owned Town Center on Dundee Road and the nearby Northgate Crossings, where 288 luxury apartment-style homes are planned.
Helmer listed 22 highlights for progress in his city in 2013, citing especially the opening of Ultra Foods in a long-abandoned Dominick's at 1241 N. Rand Road and the rebuilding of streets to banish the nickname "pothole city."
And Argiris mentioned the village's plans to reset two of its tax increment financing districts, calling them "our most effective development tool."
Other local governments do not benefit from the increased property taxes inside the TIF districts until after the districts expire, usually in 23 years. Some officials have expressed concern about Wheeling's restarting the clock on two TIF districts.
Argiris said the village does give millions of dollars from the TIF districts to the other local governments. He praised each local government except Wheeling Township Elementary District 21, which he has criticized in the past. After the speeches, he said he must have forgotten to mention that school district.