CHICAGO - City officials are considering the use of revenue bonds to finance moving a military base out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, according to the city's Department of Aviation.
The federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended Thursday that the U.S. Air Force operation be moved out of the airport, as long as the city picks up the cost of the move. Chicago officials estimated the cost at $200 million.
A city aviation department spokeswoman said Friday that a bond issue to finance the move is a possibility, and that any bonds issued would not carry Chicago's general obligation pledge.
If any bonds were to become involved, they would be revenue bonds, backed by the users of the property," the spokeswoman said.
Mayor Richard Daley has said that all costs associated with the move will be financed by the ultimate users of the vacated airport property, rather than with taxpayer money.
Unlike other local governments around the nation that have been fighting to keep military operations within their borders from closing or moving, Chicago has pushed for the removal of the U.S. Air Force operation from O'Hare, the nation's busiest airport.
Daley said in a press release that the commission's decision "will free up the 356 acres of prime real estate for airport-related commercial and industrial development and major roadway improvements.
O'Hare's role as an economic engine can be greatly enhanced by the opportunities created by better use of the military property," he said.
Daley proposed the plan to the commission at a hearing last month in Detroit.
The Daley administration has estimated that development of the land would add $600 million to $1.3 billion a year to the economy of the Chicago region.
Several Illinois communities have expressed interest in the Air Force operation, according to Chicago's Aviation Department. They include Rockford, Peoria, Rantoul, Springfield,, Bloomington, and the Quad Cities region on the Illinois - Iowa border. Chicago has two years to identify a relocation site that is acceptable to the Air Force, to develop a financing plan, and to begin the relocation, according to a press release from the aviation department.
The commission's recommendation is subject to approval by Congress and President Clinton.