Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) said a proposed bill that would create a new regional airport authority covering the entirety of McLean County would raise property taxes for county residents.

Caulkins opposes Senate Bill 684, which would create the Central Illinois Regional Airport Authority and dissolve “any existing airport authority” in McLean County. The Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority, an independent municipality, operates in McLean County; airport authority information said.

Senate Bill 684 was filed in February by Illinois state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). It passed the Senate on March 29 and was placed on the House calendar for second reading with short debate on April 27.

“Legislation being pushed through the Illinois General Assembly would require all property taxpayers in McLean County to pay for the cost to operate the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington,” Caulkins said this week in a release from his office. “I am opposed to this legislation as it creates a new tax for most homeowners and businesses in McLean County. A new tax that equals a property tax hike for most taxpayers. This legislation circumvents the law by not allowing the taxpayers an opportunity to consider the creation of this new taxing body. A decision that should be made by the voters in McLean County, not the Illinois legislature.”

In April, the McLean County Board delayed a resolution opposing the tax plan for Central Illinois Regional Airport, which the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority owns and operates, WGLT reported. “Disenfranchised property owners” living outside the Twin Cities would pay added tax and but not have have added representation if the expansion took place.

Alan Sender, chair of the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority, noted that under the plan Bloomington-Normal property owners would get a 33% drop in the airport part of their tax bill; the WGLT report said. For example, the owner of a $175,000 home would pay $55 per year instead of $83.

But the average homeowner living outside the Twin Cities would pay approximately $55 more each year. Farmers would have to pay approximately $61 more each year for every 100 acres of farmland they own.

On April 26, Caulkins and other legislators sent a letter to Illinois state Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights), chairperson of the State Government Administration Committee, asking for a postponement of action on the bill.

“We ask that this committee postpone consideration of Senate Bill 684 until all of the citizens of McLean County have had the opportunity to express their support or opposition,” the letter said. “This legislation if enacted would dissolve the current Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority and assume its powers, assets, and liabilities. Powers would include a property tax levy expanded to all of McLean County and include the new authority to issue bonds; rents, tolls, fees, and eminent domain.”

Caulkins was first elected to the Illinois House in 2018, the General Assembly website said. His legislative experience includes serving on the Public Utilities and Prescription Drug Affordability committees. He resides in Decatur.