© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kansas City Council Asks To Rebid Lucrative KCI Contract In Hopes Of Including Minority Contractors

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate
A rendering of the new KCI terminal.

Several council members objected to an $80 million contract that was awarded to an out-of-town firm.

The Kansas City Council has asked the head of the aviation department to reject an $80 million contract awarded to a Colorado firm for work on the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport and instead seek best and final offers again from the two final bidders.

The dispute highlights repeated criticisms that the project has not afforded enough opportunities to local minority- and women-owned firms, often referred to as MBEs and WBEs.

Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said the decision is about making sure the process is fair.

“This isn’t, for me, about giving it from one company to the next. This is, for me, about getting the final and best offer to ensure that we have an equitable share of MBEs and WBEs,” Robinson said.

Several council members questioned the terminal construction manager’s recommendation to award the concrete contract to ESCO Construction Co. of Colorado over Ideker Inc. of St. Joseph. ESCO’s bid was $1.5 million lower than Ideker’s and included about $23 million for women- and minority-owned firms.

Council members were concerned that, of that $23 million, only $3 million was for minority-owned firms and the other $20 million was for just one firm, G2 Construction, owned by Lisa Garney, the daughter of longtime Kansas City developer Charles Garney.

In a committee meeting Wednesday, the president of Ideker said its bid included $18 million through nine local minority and women contracting companies.

But on Thursday, several council members disagreed on the percentage of work that was being awarded to minority firms.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said the discrepancies over the numbers was an indication that either the developer or the aviation department wasn’t living up to its promise of a transparent and transformative process.

“It’s really troubling, we can’t say what’s up and what’s down,” Lucas said.

The council voted 10-2 to request the director of the Aviation Department to reject the contract with ESCO and recommend that the construction manager reconsider the two bids.

Councilwoman Teresa Loar and Councilman Lee Barnes voted against the measure. Councilman Brandon Ellington abstained.

Several city officials have long expressed frustration over leadership in the Aviation Department. A separate ordinance still in committee would remove control of the KCI terminal project from director Pat Klein. That measure is set to be discussed next week.

In a letter to the Special Committee for Legal Review, which is considering the measure, Kyle O’Neal, chair of the KCI Airport Airline Affairs Committee, said removing Klein would risk putting the project over-budget and behind schedule.

O’Neal wrote that Southwest Airlines would consider the move a violation of its lease.

Lynn Horsley contributed to this report.

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.