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A new bill could let XNA leave the city of Highfill

Senate bill 414 would allow regional airport authorities to de-annex from a city. If passed, this could affect the city of Highfill.

HIGHFILL, Ark. — Senate Bill 414 would allow regional airport authorities to de-annex from a city. If passed, this could affect the city of Highfill.

If Northwest Arkansas National Airport de-annexed from the city, XNA would have to levy its own taxes on airport property and create an infrastructure and development commission to spend those tax proceeds on operating and improving the airport. 

State Representative Denise Gardner of Fayetteville is the House sponsor of the bill

"The airport is responsible to the patrons and to the folks who utilize the airport, they're trying to do the best they can to service those folks....you know they want to be good stewards of the money that their making and be able to increase their services they need to," 

That means fewer tax dollars for the city of Highfill. Mayor Chris Holland tells 5NEWS Highfill has budgeted about a million dollars overall in revenue this year. $600,000 of that comes from taxes collected at businesses at the airport. Holland says this bill would hurt his town.

"You got $600,000 of a million dollar budget, you know so it takes $600,000 away from it but number one, you know the bill is taxation without representation the way it's written in my opinion," Holland explained.

Garnder says this bill is vital to our area.

"I think the airport's growth has increased dramatically and there needing to pay the money and all of their sales and those taxes to increase the function to better all of us in northwest Arkansas," Gardner said.

Bill sponsors say "Senate bill 414 is narrow. It only applies to regional airport authorities, which are not private business entities. They are government entities with quasi-municipal powers. There are only three of them in the entire state, and XNA is the only one located in a municipality that is not a member of its authority. Virtually all other airports are located within the city/county that owns them, making detachment impossible."

The proposal would allow the board of directors to detach Northwest Arkansas national airport from Highfill with a two-thirds vote.

"But they will have to have a vote in order to do that, but the legislation allows that to happen," said Gardner.

As the bill moves forward, Holland suggests Highfill citizens read the bill and reach out to state representatives.

"And then also it says any land they purchase will leave the city of Highfill, and go into their area, so overtime it'd just dissolve Highfill by buying one partial land at a time," Holland said. 

Bill sponsors say the bill will be reviewed by the Senate this week.

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