Small Indiana Airport Proposes 2 New Tax Rates

May 9--Seymour Airport Authority is seeking a property tax levy to raise money for special projects and daily operations at Freeman Municipal Airport.

It's the third try in 12 years. The others were unsuccessful.

The board recently approved an ordinance establishing a tax rate of one-third of a cent per $100 of assessed valuation to be applied next year to an airport cumulative building fund and a rate of 3.3 cents for a general fund.

For a property valued at $100,000, that means roughly a $30 increase in property taxes owed per year.

The tax levy would only affect properties located within Seymour city limits in Jackson and Redding townships, city attorney Jeff Lorenzo said Monday.

"By seeking that amount we are in a position to bring in slightly more than $300,000 per year," airport manager Don Furlow, said. "But we'll be lucky to get even half of that."

The airport will conduct a public hearing on the tax requests at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the airport office.

"I really have no idea what people think about it," Furlow said.

"No one like;

s a tax increase, including me," board president Bob Zickler said. "But it's not a tremendously steep rate and we wouldn't even be thinking about it but we are using this as a last resort."

After the public hearing, the authority would vote on a second reading of the ordinance. If approved, it would be forwarded to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, which reviews and ultimately approves all budgets, tax rates and levies.

"There is no guarantee this will be approved," Furlow said. "But it's something the board agreed we should pursue."

The authority attempted to pass a similar levy in 1994 and 1997 but were denied both times, Furlow said.

"At that time we had too much money for them to even consider us for a tax levy and rate," he said. "Things have changed since then."

The airport collects operating money from three main sources -- rents from aviation, industry and agriculture.

"We do receive federal money from the FFA (Federal Aviation Administration), from the factories that are located out here and from the farm ground we own," Furlow said. "But it's been increasingly difficult for us to operate with the revenue from these sources because our costs continue to go up."

Zickler agreed.

"We've pretty much maxed out our income," he said. "All of our farm ground is leased and we just had a rate increase for the businesses out here. We've just reached the end of our cycle."

Unlike many airports, Zickler is quick to point out, Freeman Municipal Airport is self-sustaining.

"Most airports in cities our size aren't this big," Furlow added. "And most of those airports have tax rates."

The authority had planned to seek a tax levy last year but was asked by city officials to hold off because of other tax increases.

Furlow said he would like to see the levy and rate approved so that the authority could invest more in the airport's infrastructure.

"We are still operating in buildings that were built during World War II," Furlow said.

Roads and storm sewers are also on Furlow's list for updating, and ditches need to be cleaned.

"If we had that money we could widen and resurface the roads out here," he said. "That would leave the city with one less road project to finance."

Maintenance and upkeep for the airport is costly, Furlow added.

To those people who disagree with a tax levy and rate for the airport, Furlow reminds them of one thing.

"Look at the number of people working in the factories out here," he said. "That generates tax money that is put back into our city."