Friday, August 15, 2014

Cities, universities get first crack at state airplanes

SPRINGFIELD | Local governments and public universities across the state have about two weeks to decide whether they want to own an airplane.

As part of a budget-cutting move by Gov. Pat Quinn in June, the Democrat from Chicago directed his aides to sell nine of the state's 21 airplanes.

The process of putting them on the market is underway, officials said.

The total savings is expected to be about $7 million annually, but it remains unclear when that money might start flowing.

Under state law, equipment no longer needed by the state — from old police cars to out-of-date electronic devices — is offered to other units of government before it is sold to the public.

Those governments would have to pay whatever the airplanes are appraised at. Illinois Department of Central Management Services spokeswoman Alka Nayyar said the price of each of the planes is expected to be set soon.

But, it remains unclear whether any towns or cities are interested in the planes.

"It's yet early to say on the response from local governments ... as we just began offering it to them," Nayyar said in an email.

Up for grabs are seven planes operated by the Illinois Department of Transportation and two planes used by the Illinois State Police.

Some of the planes are good for ferrying passengers between Chicago and St. Louis. Others are smaller planes used for observational purposes.

Local governments will have until the end of the month to decide whether they want one.

If there aren't any takers or if some of the planes don't sell, Nayyar said it likely will be September before the public gets a chance to bid on the planes.

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