James Bohnsack faces new calls for his removal from the Metropolitan Airport Authority Board because he does not live in the taxing district the board oversees.
A group called Edgarcountywatchdogs.com has taken issue with Bohnsack's residence in Andalusia Township, filing complaints with the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics and IDOT's office of Chief Counsel.
The airport board levies taxes on just seven townships: Hampton, Moline, South Moline, Rock Island, South Rock Island, Blackhawk and Coal Valley.
The independent group has been influential in the removal of airport authority commissioners elsewhere. In February, it successful lobbied to remove Kankakee Valley Airport Authority member Rende Langlois who was accused of violating a state law barring public officers from doing business with a board on which they serve on.
The Airport Authority Act states a commissioner must reside within the territory of the authority. Appointments must be in writing and indicate the legal residence of the person appointed.
Bohnsack, currently chairman of the airport authority commission, completed his first term Nov. 30, 2017. He was appointed to second term set to expire Nov. 30, 2022.
He said Monday that he thought the issue was over after both the Rock Island County state’s attorney and the airport’s attorney looked into the matter. “We need to find a conclusion,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to try to do my best.”
The mayors of Moline, Milan, East Moline, Rock Island and Silvis each appoint one commissioner for the airport board. The Rock Island County Board chairman appoints three more members, with the county board's approval.
County board member Drue Mielke, R-Coal Valley, has filed a formal complaint with IDOT requesting a public hearing on Mr. Bohnsack's commission seat.
He said Bohnsack should not be making decisions that impact a taxing district in which he does not reside. Mielke also said the burden should be on Bohnsack to prove why he should not be removed from the board.
Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee said he is aware of the filings by edgarcountywatchdogs. Once the county board appoints an airport board commissioner, he said, that appointment is out of the board's jurisdiction and lies with the airport board or the IDOT, which oversees the airport boards.
"Aviation is a serious issue that has to be managed by the IDOT," he said. "They will go through their process and see if there is a member not qualified to be on the airport board.
"I assume they could look into residency issues if they want to," McGehee said. "It sounds like this watchdog group has filed a complaint with the proper authority and that is the proper procedure."
McGehee said that, under state law, IDOT would refer the matter back to the airport authority for a hearing and final decision.