Calling it a “belt and suspenders” measure, Kansas City Councilwoman Heather Hall introduced an ordinance on Thursday that would reaffirm, in writing, that no taxpayer money will go to the construction or operations of a single terminal at KCI.
The ordinance, also championed by Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar, was passed by all council members present at Thursday’s council legislative session.
Hall called the measure from the floor on Thursday, meaning it hadn’t been introduced prior to Thursday and did not make its way through the normal committee process. As such, it needed nine votes to pass; it received 11. Kansas City Mayor Sly James and councilwoman Jolie Justus were not present at Thursday’s meeting.
“No city funds will be used or appropriated for the new airport project,” Hall said of her ordinance before it came up for a vote.
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The ordinance comes as City Hall continues to negotiate an agreement with Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, the chosen developer for the KCI single terminal. Voters head to the polls on Nov. 7 to ratify whether the city can build the $1 billion project.
Public funds were never supposed to be part of financing the new airport. Under a typical scenario for building an airport, revenue generated by airport operations — parking fees, ticket surcharges, concessions and so on — pay off debt from aviation revenue bonds.
In Kansas City’s case, it is contemplating building a new terminal through private financing or what’s referred to as “conduit” financing, which involves a public agency like the Port Authority of Kansas City issuing the debt on the developer’s behalf.
Thursday’s measure appears to foreclose any effort to provide funding for the project through annual appropriation from the Kansas City Council.