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FAA: Edgemoor, city can't use airport revenue for $14M in community benefits

Posted at 1:19 PM, Aug 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-23 19:17:05-04

KANSAS CITY,  Mo. -- In a letter obtained by 41 Action News, the Federal Aviation Administration says Edgemoor - the developer behind the new KCI terminal project - and Kansas City, Missouri can't use airport revenue for nearly half of the items in a community benefits agreement as written for the new KCI terminal. 

The measures flagged add up to $14 million in community benefits, including $8.9 million in workforce training, as well as donations to Love thy Neighbor and a fund for the Northland. 

The FAA's response came up briefly during the last Airport Committee meeting, but the letter details which specific items drew the ire of regulators.

"In order for airport funds to be used, the amount must be minimal, and there must be a reasonable connection between the recipient organizations and the benefit of local community acceptance of the airport. The million dollar plus contributions are not considered minimal," FAA Public Affairs Spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory wrote to 41 Action News. 

The FAA does leave the door open to some workforce training, but found the programs in the current CBA were "too broad and direct airport revenue to purposes other than airport use or benefit."

Edgemoor, the developer selected to build the new terminal, had previously committed to paying for any aspects of the CBA for which airport revenue could not be used. However, according to the agency's letter, Edgemoor also cannot be required to pay for the measures.

In a statement, the company says they continue to talk with the FAA.

The Edgemoor team remains committed to the Community Benefits Agreement, and we will follow the direction of the FAA and City Council. Those negotiations with the FAA are on-going, and over the next 60 days we expect to have greater clarity about the FAA's requirements for the Community Benefits Agreement.

The agency emphasized the city and the developer can work together to identify alternative funding sources, such as private equity, to pay for the CBA.

The FAA concerns didn't come as a surprise to city legal staff and Airport Committee members. Councilman Quinton Lucas said the letter is a sign that priorities need to be drawn for the agreement.  

"We and Edgemoor need to get our ducks in a row and figure out who's working on the project and what we can do, and not spend so much time thinking about every great social policy we can come up with that we can use the airport to fund," he said. 

The Airport Committee will meet again on September 13.