Over the weekend I posted a list of questions regarding the announcement last week of a private financing option for a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport. Today I’m asking for help from readers to review and interpret the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is expected to be presented to the City Council this week.
The Kansas City Star is reporting today that the MOU “may be introduced at [Thursday’s] City Council meeting, so we’ll see what details it provides and get more information on how much public input this agreement will have.” However, a link to the MOU was made available last week on the city’s website and you can review it HERE. A letter from City Manager Troy Schulte regarding the MOU is HERE.
Also noted on the city site is the information about “how much public input this agreement will have.”
The City Council’s Airport Committee will invite public comments at two meetings the week of May 22nd.
The public can also comment via the City’s online town hall, KCMOmentum.
Further details are presented in the City’s news release.
A quick glance at the MOU reveals a very tight timeframe for negotiating details and finalizing the agreement. In fact, not only “may” it be introduced this week, the MOU requires that it be:
City and Developer agree and acknowledge that the New MOU will require approval by the City of Kansas City, Missouri City Council (“Council”), and City and Developer agree to negotiate in good faith to finalize the terms of the New MOU, for presentation to the Council, not later than May 18, 2017.
This would seem to indicate one of two scenarios: This collaboration between Burns & McDonnell has been going on much longer than the reported couple of weeks, or the parties want the deal signed before citizens have a chance to review it and competitors have a chance to offer a better deal.
Given that the same people who put the KCI project on ice a year ago are now lighting a fire under this proposal like a home improvement contractor offering a 15% discount “if you sign tonight”, I tend to be suspicious. I am unable to spend much time reviewing this before the Council meeting, thus my ask of you. Please review and if there is something of concern, comment here or comment at the Star, to your Councilperson, to the Council.
This may be the greatest idea in the history of airports. If so, it will stand both scrutiny and the time it takes to responsibly scrutinize.
(Photo above courtesy of The Kansas City Star)
As a non-resident of KCMO, and thus disenfranchised in many of the policy/planning decisions regarding the future of the Region’s cumulative transportation system, I’ve attempted, in following the arguments about the future of the “Airport System” (as it’s termed by B&M), to adopt a whole systems perspective. Since the formation of the Mayor’s Terminal Advisory Group, there have been many citizen-weeks of testimony given and heard, and several thousands of pages of analytical reports filed; these along with now years of careful deliberation by concerned and generally well-qualified individuals within government, among private businesses, not-for-profit advocates and citizens at-large.
At no point in this many citizen-years of effort do I recall any declared intention by the City Council to adopt for the Airport System what the USDOT now terms “scenario planning.” The 600 page report produced by the Aviation Department’s consultants in 2016 appears to be a thoroughly traditional (government-directed and forward-engineered) optioneering exercise. Such are based upon consensus, “expert” forecasts of future need that rarely deviate from long-range forecasts of national transportation trends.
What the B&M proposal does is suggest that a scenario-based approach to planning be adopted without any substantive discussion of what adjustments of the respective public, private, and government duties will be going forward. It is a classic “just go do it” strategy and approach to a revision of the way regional transportation planning will unfold in the future.
Specifically, what the B&M proposal represents, can plausibly be termed the “Privatize the Airport System” in two steps scenario. The momentum created by private ownership of the terminal facilities (step one) is logically seen as step one toward a complete privatization of the Airport System (step two), and likely in the next decade.
There are too many reasons to question the wisdom and pace of adopting transportation-infrastructure scenario planning on a regional basis for KCMO to be encouraged to jump headlong into this “demonstration” project, with not consideration of the knock-on effects of “setting a precedent and going with the flow.”
In the past few weeks a report from the Urban Institute noted that in the midst of all the hoopla about Google and Smart Cities, the region had notched its way toward the top of one ignominious and costly measure of performance. We rated as the 5th most (and trending upward) segregated large metro in the country. Show me how this proposal will address the legacy development fueled blight in the regions innards and I’ll be able to get to a neutral stance in considering it.
As before, the effort to monetize “user convenience” fails to even address the correlation – it simply voids the existing capital value of that existing objective and relationship capital. Coming from the present Give-Away administration, I can see how this might be an enviable “capstone” in the progression of such which B&M is already a substantial recipient.
In my judgement, this is the “nose of an unwelcome camel” until proven otherwise.
My questions/thoughts on the MOU:
c. Is 35 the right number?
e. Shouldn’t the taxiway also be designed to handle larger AC than the 757? If int’l service is in the works, it sure wouldn’t be on a 757 but rather a 787.
3. It sure would be nice to see what it is going to look like before entering into an agreement. Exhibit A is not enough.
1->a->iv – “good faith efforts for minority goals” hmm…
i. This is a fund that is set up to cover major repairs, etc. However this clause states the the developer will not be responsible for the fund or funding of the fund. To me that would read as if B&M could screw something up and in two years the city would be on the hook to fix, etc. Not sure if this is standard operating procedure…?
j. These clauses would appear to handcuff the city into not being able to change the new use agreement with any of the airlines.
3. Allowing developer to impose another 1% sales tax on retail sales to help make project financially feasible. What impact will that have on CPE, i.e. cost to airlines and passengers?
What happens if voters reject this proposal?
What happens if B&M goes bankrupt or runs into other financial issues half-way through the project?
I guess at the end of the day this is just the MOU and a lot of stuff has to happen but I am curious..