Government & Politics

Burns & McDonnell disputes decision disqualifying company from KCI Airport project

Reasons why Burns & McDonnell wants to build a new airport

Representatives of engineering firm Burns & McDonnell talked to Kansas City Star journalists in May after giving a presentation to the Kansas City Council on their proposal to replace Kansas City International Airport with a privately funded, sing
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Representatives of engineering firm Burns & McDonnell talked to Kansas City Star journalists in May after giving a presentation to the Kansas City Council on their proposal to replace Kansas City International Airport with a privately funded, sing

Burns & McDonnell is disputing the KCI selection committee’s decision to disqualify its proposal to design, build and finance a new airport terminal.

The company said in a news release Friday that it disagrees with the city’s conclusion that its financial proposal was inconsistent with the city’s master bond ordinance.

The city did not have an immediate response to the Burns & McDonnell argument.

The KCI selection team announced Wednesday that it was recommending a team led by Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate over proposals from AECOM, Jones Lang LaSalle and from Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell and its team, which was dubbed the KCI Hometown team.

Edgemoor held a news conference Friday to discuss its approach to the airport project, and the local benefits that would bring, while acknowledging that it has not yet won final approval for its proposal.

Friday’s news release from Burns & McDonnell appeared to be aimed at the city council, which still must validate the Edgemoor recommendation before that team becomes the chosen developer for any new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

The committee said Edgemoor’s proposal was the best value for the city, while Burns & McDonnell’s was cut from consideration. That occurred after Kansas City’s bond counsel, Kutak Rock, raised concerns that the Burns & McDonnell finance plan would prioritize new private debt for the single terminal over the city’s existing debt from an early 2000s airport improvement project.

Burns & McDonnell disputes the Kutak Rock conclusion. Before the committee made its recommendation, Burns & McDonnell had provided the city with a legal opinion from the bond counsel firm of Gilmore & Bell, confirming the team’s proposal was compliant with the master bond ordinance.

Burns & McDonnell said in its release Friday that Wednesday’s selection criteria memo “only raises more questions.”

That memo “was the first time we had any indication that the city did not even consider our qualifications due to recommendations from the city’s outside legal and financial consultants. We are baffled by this erroneous technical argument,” Mike Brown, Burns & McDonnell vice president, said. “This is a prime example as to why we believe the city, led by the city council, must thoroughly review this process and make sure all proposers were properly considered.”

Brown argued “this is the time to ensure this process is fair on behalf of the citizens of Kansas City and thousands of employees represented by the KCI Hometown team.”

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley

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