The Quad-City International Airport’s governing board took no action Wednesday after discussing an objection to one of its commissioners' appointment to the board.
Rock Island County Board member Drue Mielke, R-Coal Valley, has challenged the legality of Jim Bohnsack’s re-appointment to the Rock Island County Metropolitan Airport Authority. Mielke said Bohnsack resides in a township outside of the airport authority’s seven township taxing district.
Bohnsack, who also is the airport authority’s chairman, lives in rural Taylor Ridge in Andalusia Township.
The state statute has no requirements regarding residency, airport attorney Roger Strandlund told the board. In addition, “the power of the appointment is vested with the (Rock Island County) board," he said.
Mielke could not be reached for comment.
In an interview, Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee said his legal opinion was "that the appointment was proper." He said the Airport Authorities Act dates back to the 1950s and "is relatively old and vague on some of these issues."
At the airport meeting, commissioner Molly Foley said the appointment is the county's issue. “We don’t appoint the board.”
The mayors of Moline, Rock Island, Milan, East Moline and Silvis appoint one commissioner each, and the county appoints three commissioners, Strandlund said.
Bohnsack, who also is a former Rock Island County Board chairman, was re-appointed in November by current Chairman Kenneth “Moose” Maranda. Bohnsack's term runs through 2022.
According to McGehee, the county board unanimously approved the appointment, including Mielke. "After that Drue Mielke started to look into the issue and whether (Bohnsack) lived outside the taxing townships. His argument is how can you tax (people) when you don't live in the district," McGehee said.
McGehee said a legislative effort underway by the airport authority and other Illinois airports to expand taxing districts could make the point moot. Under the proposed legislation, the airport's taxing authority would expand to cover all the townships in Rock Island County.
He said the Illinois Department of Transportation also has the authority to deem a board member as "unqualified" for a variety of reasons, including conflict of interest or incompatibility because of another board membership. But he said there is no complaint before the DOT.