MOLINE, Illinois -- There's a lot of catching up to do for the new executive director of the Quad City International Airport.
"At first I didn't even know where the Quad Cities was," Ben Leischner said. "I just kind of said, 'Thanks. No Thanks.' It wasn't until I actually did the research and looked at the materials that were put together on the airport and the community, that something started to click."
We had Breakfast With...Ben Leischner Thursday, August 2 on Good Morning Quad Cities. Leischner took over for Bruce Carter back in May. One of the issues on his mind and the minds of others are taxes for the airport.
"I had the assumption, 'It's the Airport Authority of Rock Island County. I had the assumption...[the entire county pays].'
But it is not. Out of the 18 townships in Rock Island County, these seven are the only ones that pay for the airport:
Rock Island, Moline, South Rock Island, South Moline, Coal Valley, Blackhawk (Milan), Hampton (East Moline).
Out of the 18 townships in Rock Island County, these 11 do not pay for the airport:
Andalusia, Bowling, Buffalo Prairie, Canoe Creek, Coe, Cordova, Drury, Edgington, Port Byron, Rural, and Zuma.
"It all has to do with the townships that were in place when the Airport Authority was incepted," Leischner said. "It hasn't changed. I know there's been a lot of local talk about changing that with the recent state legislation and the bill that didn't make it last legislative session, but it's still out there."
Leischner is talking about a bill in Springfield that would expand the taxing district for the airport to make it county-wide as opposed to just taking taxes from those seven townships.
"It's not a large tax and arguably everybody benefits from having an airport here, whether you fly out or not," Leischner said. "A lot of the businesses here would not be here without having an airport local."
Could Leischner and the airport tax entities in Iowa to use the airport? Leischner says he's more focused on equality in the county before he's focused on trying to tax people in Iowa. In a 2017 study though done at the airport, 69% of the cars at the Quad City International Airport were cars from Iowa. Just 25% were cars from Illinois.