DALLAS -- Kansas City, Mo., voters likely will go to the polls in November to decide whether to build a new $1 billion passenger terminal at Kansas City International Airport to replace the current three terminal configuration.
The Kansas City Council must decide by Aug. 24 on whether to call the election and how to word the ballot proposal after reviewing the financial plans submitted by four teams of private investors seeking to be the lead partner on the terminal project, said city communications director Chris Hernandez.
The financial plans are due by Aug. 10, following the submission of proposals from the private sector in late July, Hernandez said.
The ballot would either ask voters to approve the private financing of the proposal to demolish a shuttered terminal and replace it with a modern facility or whether the city should issue up to $990 million of airport revenue bonds to fund it. Only one question will be on the ballot.
“The city council is currently discussing what the ballot language should be,” Hernandez said.
“While two ordinances are on the table to discuss, the most recent meeting included talks about whether the ballot language should specify the funding stream or not, in case flexibility is needed to include an innovative blend of mostly private funding and perhaps some public bonds for certain elements,” he said.
Council member Katheryn Shields said she proposed the public financing option to save the city $400 million over the 30-year life of the bonds rather than private financing.
“That would be a massive increase in cost with no benefit to the city or airlines,” Shields said.
The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted a measure last week that would raise the cap on airport passenger facility charges to $8.50 from the current $4.50. The PFC is a main source of support for airport revenue bonds.
“There is some opposition to it among the airlines,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the committee’s transportation panel. “But there’s a large backlog in infrastructure projects, and the fee has not been increased for 17 years,”
An election on whether to build a new terminal was postponed in 2016 by Mayor Sly James because polls indicated the proposal would be defeated.
The idea of a new airport terminal was revived in May when Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell offered to privately finance and build a new passenger terminal that would be operated by the city.
The field expanded two weeks later when engineering firm AECOM said that it wanted an opportunity to finance, design, build, and operate the terminal. At that point the city council decided to seek other bids on the proposal.
Burns & McDonnell is partnering in its bid with Americo Life Inc., Corgan Architects, and more than 20 local firms known as KCI Hometown Team. The group is running ads featuring former Kansas City Royals slugger George Brett extolling it as “an all-star, blue-ribbon coalition of designers and construction firms” based in Kansas City.
Los Angeles-based AECOM’s consortium operating as KCI Partnership includes Turner Construction and Oaktree Capital Management Ltd., which was involved in the 2013 privatization of Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico.
Bids also were submitted by BlueScope Construction Inc. of Kansas City in partnership with international real estate services firm JLL, and by Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate LLC, a unit of the Maryland-based Clark Companies.
The four bidders and their financial plans will be evaluated by a six-member panel, with its selection to be announced the week beginning on Aug. 14.