Originally Posted Online: March 19, 2013, 5:12 pm
Last Updated: March 20, 2013, 12:13 pm
Firefighters will sue over Elliott tax break
Comment on this story
By Stephen Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Coal Valley Fire Protection District Board will join the Moline School District in its fight to remove a new property tax exemption for Elliott Aviation, members decided Tuesday morning.
"I talked with the Moline School board people," said fire protection district attorney Derek Hancks. "They hope to have their suit filed this week. What they suggested is we consider petitioning to intervene with them as opposed to co-filing with them.
"Cost-wise, that would hold down the expected costs. We wouldn't actually be a co-plaintiff, but an interested party that would join in."
The board agreed, but set $5,000 as the maximum cost for litigation. If litigation costs more, treasurer Gerry Stahr said, the board can decide then if it wants to proceed further.
President Dave Baraks said he was concerned with the precedent set of businesses making similar requests in the future.
"It's the taxpayers who lose is what it amounts to," Mr. Baraks said. "John Deere could walk in and say, 'Hey, we don't want to pay any property taxes either.'
"It all falls back on the homeowner."
"This is the first time in 16 years I've been doing this that we've had to spend it like that," Mr. Stahr said of the litigation fees.
The Moline School District, which stands to lose $150,000 per year because of the exemption, voted last week to challenge the law in court as unconstitutional. The Coal Valley Fire Protection District is facing a $15,000 annual loss.
Two local attorneys, John Doak and W. Matthew Hays, with Katz, Huntoon and Fieweger, P.C., acting on their own behalf, said earlier this month they intend to sue Elliott Aviation if property taxes are not assessed and levied on the fixed-based operator.
Last year, Elliott pushed local legislators to pass the exemption, saying other states grant such exemptions to fixed based operators at airports and that Elliott would consider taking a planned expansion at the Quad-City International Airport elsewhere unless Illinois approved the exemption.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB 4110 earlier this year. The bill was sponsored by Illinois Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, and former Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova.
The company said the planned expansion could bring 300-400 new jobs over the next 10 years. On March 4, Elliott announced plans to add 50 jobs within the next two years and to invest $1.8 million in improvements at its airport operations.
Elliott will receive $937,750 worth of tax credits spread over 10 years based on creating 50 jobs and investing $1.8 million, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.