The campaign for the Kansas City International Airport single-terminal project started about a month ago with radio and television spots and has now transformed, like most political campaigns, into accusations and competing claims.
The campaign — at this point, at least — may be less directed toward the general public than it is at the selection committee evaluating the four proposals to design, build and finance the $1 billion project.
Burns & McDonnell put on a news conference Wednesday to beat back claims made Tuesday by AECOM that it could build a single terminal for $463 million less.
Burn & McDonnell now says it can build its airport for $84 million less than the AECOM-led KCI Partnership.
Wednesday’s news conference came after AECOM Capital senior manager Karl Reichelt cast doubt to reporters at City Hall on Tuesday about new questions posed by the KCI selection committee. The committee posed the questions Tuesday morning after each proposer made presentations to the committee Monday.
Reichelt said he felt that the questions were meant to try to “re-litigate” the KCI Partnership’s financial proposal.
“An out-of-town competitor stood outside of City Hall and in between criticizing the city regarding its own selection process, stated repeatedly that their proposals cost less money,” said Ron Coker, senior vice president at Burns & McDonnell. “That statement is simply not true.”
Reichelt said Tuesday he believed that by asking the additional questions, competing proposals have a chance to meet the KCI Partnership’s financial model that had projected an ocean of savings.
“We’re worried that the process is going in a strange direction,” Reichelt said.
In both cases, the numbers are somewhat ephemeral.
KCI Partnership’s claims are based on an annual project financing payment it committed to in its proposal. KCI Partnership said it could build an airport that would result in a fixed $69.8 million financing payment. Compared to a $85.2 million maximum airline commitment from a proposal from Burns & McDonnell in May, which never went into effect, KCI Partnership extrapolates $463 million in savings over 30 years.
For its part, Burns & McDonnell submitted a proposal that presented a range of potential costs — between $750 million and $1.05 billion. Those costs would translate into annual financing payments ranging from $58.6 million to $72.7 million.
On Tuesday, Burns & McDonnell settled on a $67 million annual payment, which it said was based on a $964 million cost that was discussed during Monday’s meeting with the selection committee.
City Hall is attempting to square up these comparisons by asking each proposer to come up with an annual payment based on a common set of assumptions. On Wednesday, City Hall released the additional questions it had asked on Tuesday.
Among other questions, each proposer is asked to come up with an annual payment based on a $1.117 billion airport that opens in 2022. It’s an attempt to get side-by-side comparisons from each proposal to better analyze their offers.
Those responses are due at noon Thursday.