Burns & McDonnell Calls On Kansas City To Reconsider All Four KCI Proposals

Sep 18, 2017

The fight over who will build a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport just keeps going — and voters haven't even approved it yet. 

On Sept. 6, a six-person selection team chose the team led by Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate over Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell to design, build and privately finance a new terminal. 

The selection must be approved by the full city council. Although there has been talk they could instead choose to endorse one of the other three proposals, City Manager Troy Schulte says that's not an option — either get behind Edgemoor or restart the entire selection process. 

On Monday, Burns & McDonnell called on the city to reinstate all the proposers before the full Kansas City Council votes on the committee's selection. 

In a memo, the selection committee said Burns & McDonnell's proposal was eliminated by the committee because its financing proposal didn't comply with the city's Master Bond Ordinance (MBO) as required in the RFQ/P. 

The firm contests its elimination. 

"The reality is, all of these financial plans are just concepts at this point in time. We don't know how much this project costs yet, we don't know exactly what this project looks like, we don't know what the final financial plan will be," says Burns &McDonnell Senior Vice President Ron Coker. "So for a qualifications-based selection to be disqualified just doesn't make any sense."

Coker says his team provided the city with a legal opinion from Gilmore & Bell, which specializes in public finance, that says its proposal did, in fact, comply with the city's MBO.

Furthermore, Burns & McDonnell says Edgemoor's financing structure might not comply with the Missouri Constitution. 

Edgemoor provided the city with several financing options, including 100 percent, privately-arranged debt financing, which officials say could save the city money. 

"The Missouri Constitution has specific provisions giving authority for a city to pledge its airport revenues, but only for voter-approved airport revenue bonds issued by the City," Gilmore & Bell Director Gary Andersen said in a statement. "Nowhere in the Missouri Constitution does authority exist to pledge city airport revenues for privately-arranged debt, including by a conduit bond issuer.” 

Burns & McDonnell also alleges that the city's outside legal counsel advised them against selecting their team because of potential litigation. 

Councilwoman Jolie Justus, who was on the selection committee, says the final decision was based on facts and data — not outside politics. Justus says the city will look into all the legal arguments put forth by Burns & McDonnell. 

"Every time a new scenario pops up it obviously concerns me because the thing that I want to be talking about as a city right now is the need for a new single-terminal at KCI," Justus says. 

Barring the reinstatement of all of the proposals, Burns & McDonnell says the city should restart the entire process. It's the second time the firm has made this request — the first was due to an alleged conflict of interest

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig