The Kansas City Council is debating a Kansas City International Airport public financing ballot proposal for the Nov. 7 election.
On Thursday, Councilwoman Jolie Justus, chair of the council’s Airport Committee, introduced a private financing alternative for consideration.
Justus said her ballot proposal has already had numerous wording changes and will surely be edited and changed again, but she intends it to involve private financing.
“I just wanted to get this conversation started,” she said, adding that any ballot language must be approved by the city’s bond counsel and by the outside law firms that are advising the city on a new single terminal construction approach.
No hearing is yet scheduled to debate the private financing ballot measure. But the City Council must approve some type of ballot language by Aug. 24 to qualify for the November election.
The proposed draft doesn’t actually mention the words “private financing.” It seeks voter approval to build a new single passenger terminal at KCI, “without a tax increase or creating any indebtedness of the City” while ensuring the city retains airport ownership and operations.
Of course, public financing with airport revenue bonds also doesn’t involve a tax increase or city indebtedness. Councilwoman Katheryn Shields has already introduced a ballot proposal that would use airport revenue bonds to build a new single terminal. The Airport Committee discussed that approach on June 28 but didn’t come to any conclusions about whether public or private financing is the best way to pay for airport improvements.
A labor group has decided not to rely on the council to adopt ballot language and has launched its own petition initiative drive to bring a private financing option to voters in November. The group needs to gather 1,708 signatures of registered voters but has not yet completed that task.