Mayor Sly James tried to put the best face possible on disappointing news Tuesday.
He said voters would not be asked this year to approve funding for a single terminal to replace the current setup at Kansas City International Airport.
James went the route of all politicians: I’m listening to you, the voters, and you have other priorities such as lower crime rates, better education for young people and more efficient government.
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Sure, it’s important to focus on those issues. But James and plenty of others have done that for years. Some things are getting better. Others aren’t. And these are the kinds of troubles that lack permanent solutions anyway.
Make no mistake: This growing city needs a far more modern airport than the functional dump it has now.
It appears a recent poll of residents and businesses abruptly halted the city from proceeding with plans to go to voters for the nearly $1 billion proposal.
In a news release, the mayor said, “In fact, less than 40 percent actually think moving forward with a new terminal paid for by the airlines is a good idea.”
From a financial standpoint, that’s just plain nuts.
The airlines at KCI want the new terminal. They are willing to help pay for it — along with higher user fees on parking and with more money from concessions. No tax money is at stake.
What stopped an election in its tracks?
The current KCI is convenient for passengers being dropped off near their gates, something critics think a new terminal couldn’t deliver. And opponents think it would be cheaper to rehabilitate the current terminals than build new.
The delay announced Tuesday gives City Hall, the airlines and supporters in the business community time to put together a detailed, comprehensive plan to show voters in 2017.
That proposal needs to address the convenience factor, security lines and how added amenities would benefit all users, as well as other issues. Then ask voters to endorse it.