Kansas City’s decision-makers need to pick up the pace if they want voters to embrace a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.
That means making hard choices in a transparent way as quickly as possible to ensure the voters’ full faith in the project.
Last week, Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure released details of its successful proposal. Those documents were frustratingly incomplete, however, making a full assessment difficult.
Then, on Friday, the company promised a flexible airport design. But it provided no conceptual drawings of the terminal.
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Company officials say the campaign will attempt to convince voters of the need for a new facility, not sell them on the specifics of the replacement.
Nope. Kansas Citians will support a new terminal, but they won’t endorse a generic terminal.
Here’s what needs to happen before Election Day:
▪ The MOU. The City Council is still considering the Edgemoor recommendation. But city officials should be working now to draft a binding memorandum of understanding, or MOU, for the council to consider and approve.
The MOU will spell out the company’s promises on inclusive hiring, cost overruns, delivery dates — it’s essentially the terminal contract. Verbal promises aren’t enough.
We need to see it signed, in writing, before the vote.
▪ Financing. The Edgemoor plan included an option for full debt financing. That means the company would make its profit on its services, not because it was lending money to the airport.
Is that still the approach? If so, lock it in now. If not, tell us.
We also need a spreadsheet detailing costs and sources of revenue. And we still want to see how the selection committee made its choice.
▪ Design. Voters have no idea what the new terminal would look like. That must change in the next two months.
Edgemoor should be able to handle such an accelerated schedule. But let’s be clear: We’ll hold the company to the same standards of transparency that we’ve urged since May.
The Star did not prefer one airport bidder over another. We weren’t rooting for one company to succeed, or any company to fail.
But we were confident a competitive process would benefit Kansas City. Burns & McDonnell’s plan appears to have been the first one rejected by the selection committee because of problems with its financing.
Friday, the company claimed the committee made a mistake. That isn’t a surprise.
Whatever the final outcome of that argument, it’s almost certain the flaw would have stayed secret under the original no-bid process.
Kansas City voters must now do their own due diligence on the Edgemoor plan. Election Day is less than two months away.