New Terminal Already Costing Kansas City Taxpayers
On March 30, the Kansas City Star reported that according to Aviation Department Administrator Mark VanLoh,
Building a new terminal would not require general taxpayer funds. Instead, bonds would be paid by airport passengers, airlines and other users of the facility.
Now we learn from the Kansas City Business Journal that general taxpayer funds will be used after all. On Nov. 19, Austin Alonzo reported on the latest airport advisory group meeting:
During the meeting, Fowler announced that the board will “engage” New York-based transportation consultancy firm Frasca & Associates LLC as its independent consultant.
After the meeting, Fowler said Kansas City will handle the consultant’s contract, which could be worth as much as $100,000. More information on that choice and what the firm will do for the KCI Advisory Board will be revealed at the group’s next meeting.
Why are general taxpayer funds being used instead of airport funds? Apparently VanLoh cried poverty, saying the Aviation Department does not have the money. Mind you, the airport had the $117,000 to pay public relations firm Global Prairie to tell us how great an idea the new terminal is. The Aviation Department found the money to conduct the multi-year study that is now being considered. They even had the cash to loan Kansas City $10 million (at a modest rate of interest).
Terminal supporters may argue that the Aviation Department should not have to pay for a consultant to review Aviation Department claims. (After all, we at The Show-Me Institute have been investigating the matter for months at no public expense.) But even if you accept that argument, if the new terminal plan goes forward it, will put the airport into even more debt than the new terminal will generate in revenue. And that debt, we argue, could result in Kansas City making up the difference from the general taxpayer funds, as it has with Power & Light, The Citadel and this current airport consultant. Residents will certainly pay the high costs through airline tickets, parking, or reduced options at MCI.
The people of Kansas City do not want a new terminal. MCI’s biggest tenant, Southwest Airlines, says the proposed plan is too expensive and unnecessary. In most places, that would be enough to settle the issue, but in Kansas City, it just increases the cost (see also: streetcar).