KCI ballot initiative is short of necessary signatures so far

12/17/2013 4:31 PM

12/17/2013 10:59 PM

A group that is trying to force a public vote on the future of Kansas City International Airport so far has come up short of the necessary petition signatures to get on the April ballot.

The group, which calls itself Friends of KCI, turned in several thousand petition signatures to the city clerk last week to place an initiative on the April ballot. The ballot measure would ask voters to prohibit Kansas City from furthering any plan to demolish or replace any passenger terminal at KCI without voter approval.

The group needed 3,573 valid signatures of registered voters to force an election. But spokesman Dan Coffey said the city clerk told him Tuesday that the local election boards had counted only 2,990 valid signatures. That means Friends of KCI has 10 more days to try to collect 583 more valid signatures.

“We’re going to give it a go,” Coffey said.

Some City Council members have said that any changes to KCI won’t occur hastily or soon and that any new construction at KCI probably would require financing through revenue bonds, which under Missouri law must be approved by a public vote anyway.

But Coffey and others in his group aren’t convinced that revenue bonds will be the chosen financing method and said their initiative will make sure the public isn’t left out of the decision.

While the grass-roots petition effort moves ahead, a separate citizens advisory group continues to examine the best options for KCI, including possible renovations to the existing three terminals or construction of a new single terminal.

The task force’s co-chairs, Bob Berkebile and Dave Fowler, said Tuesday that airline representatives will give their perspective Jan. 14. Business community representatives are expected to speak Jan. 28.

The terminal advisory group plans to solicit public opinion at several evening hearings in February and March, including one in Johnson County, since many of KCI’s customers come from Johnson County. The task force expects to submit its recommendations in April.

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