Monday, February 19, 2024

Justified or Not, McKinney's Leadership Finds Other Taxpayer Funded Ways to Pay for a Commercial Airport

City leadership is advancing other city funding sources for the airport even though taxpayers voted down a commercial airport bond less than a year ago. They have decided that taxpayers voted down the commercial airport bond ONLY because voters did not want to pay for it with general obligation (GO) bonds.

1. This interpretation of the bond loss assumes taxpayers really want a commercial airport. Do they?

2. This interpretation of the bond loss also assumes taxpayers want to continue paying for the airport’s infrastructure and more; they just do not want to use GO bonds to do it.

Are the conclusions reached by city leaders legitimate, or are they a series of rationalizations made so they can continue pursuing airport expansion without firm taxpayer backing? 

The city of McKinney commissions reputable survey companies every other year to get the pulse of the residents. The 2017 and 2019 surveys asked questions about the airport. 

2017 official city survey

The results suggested a split city, much like the failed airport bonds in 2015, failing at 50.99% (for hangars and to purchase land on the east side of the airport), and a 2023 bond failed with 58.6% voting no (to build a commercial airport on the east side). Unsurprisingly, the 2021 and 2023 surveys asked no questions about the airport. 

2019 official city survey

Yearly, an unofficial budget priority survey allows citizens to rate their budget priorities 1-10 (1 being the most important and 10 being the least important). Nearly every year, the airport is rated at or near the bottom of importance for residents.
Citizen Survey | McKinney, TX - Official Website (

2022unofficial survey

At the 2/6/24 regular city council meeting, the Mayor of McKinney, George Fuller, doubled down in his interpretation. He said he commissioned his own survey with his own money. He read out the questions and results at the meeting. He claimed the results justify his interpretation of what voters said and did not say by defeating the bond. Here are the questions (based on my transcription of the video since the study he commissioned is not available):

1. Are you aware that McKinney owns TKI National Airport, located approximately five miles east of Central Expressway? 82.96% said yes, 17.4% said no.

2. Are you aware that 737 aircraft land and take off at the airport now? 44.93% said yes, 55.7% said no.

3. Are you aware that school and property taxes are collected on corporate assets, primarily jets, at TKI totaling more than $3 million a year, reducing our residential tax burden? 46.38% said they were aware, and 53.62% said no, they were not.

4. Would you support $200 million in bond debt paid for with property tax revenue for the development of a commercial passenger service at the airport? The question sounds familiar was on our last bond election. 40.58% said yes. 59.42% said no. I believe that's within about a percentage point of what the results were of the election if I’m not mistaken.

5. Would you support commercial passenger service at TKI if that service were negotiated with an airline and was provided without the use of any property tax backed bonds? 61.97% said yes and 38.3% said no.

His survey questions, particularly Q3 and Q5, were leading, limited in scope, and very telling in what information was omitted in the narrative. Unsurprisingly, his survey was tailor-made to get him the responses he wanted.

Notice that Q3 provided a supposed positive of the airport--$3M in property tax benefits to the city and MISD--without mentioning the other factors involved in the complicated funding structure of the airport:

  •  Not a mention that while bankrolling the entire airport, the city gets only about $800,000 of that $3M property tax benefit. That number has barely changed over the years, no matter how many new hangars the city builds. Why?
  • Not a mention that taxpayers put over $100 million into the airport since 2013.
  • Not a mention that the airport and surrounding commercial businesses are kept in a reinvestment zone (TIRZ2) while all city services inside the zone are paid for by the city. The potential tax benefit might be a wash after the city pays the liabilities for the TIRZ2 zone.
  • Not a mention that MISD is considered a tax-rich district with a large share of tax revenue it collects sent to the state due to recapture anyway.

Q5 fails to mention that taxpayers would possibly continue paying for commercial airport infrastructure and more through other means: general fund payments, payments through excess fund balances, draining the MEDC and MCDC of sales tax money that could be going to other high priorities for the city. What would the respondents have said if they had been given the complete picture in that question?

Armed with a carefully crafted survey done by Mayor Fuller, city leadership appears to feel justified in taking advantage of any taxpayer-funded source available to pay for the commercial airport (as long as it isn't GO bonds). Without skipping a beat, they will now ask the MEDC and MCDC (with members appointed by the city council) for undisclosed funding for undisclosed airport expenses using collected sales tax dollars. It is a stretch to use the MCDC, McKinney Community Development Corporation, money to pay for anything related to an airport. Community-related expenses that could be paid with MCDC will now have to be paid by other funds taxpayers have paid into.

How many commercial airport expenses does city leadership think the taxpayer will be paying to ready the site for an airline? When will the payments end for McKinney's taxpayers?


After bond fails, McKinney looks at other ways to improve airport (
McKinney voters pass five of seven bond propositions | Community Impact


  1. Thank you Bridgette. Again, you are providing valuable information McKinney residents need to know. You are the best source for City news there is. Let me know what I can do to help you. Cheers!

  2. Yes Thank You for exposing the corruption that is our McKinney , TX local government….

  3. Hopefully they get the funding needed. It has been great following the last 5 Master Plans for the airport, starting in 1998, that have been done by different City Councils over the years. And watching the Airport grow for the last 30 years thorough 5 different mayors.

    1. I've discussed the airport master plan. I participated in the last one. It's a plan for what could happen. It doesn't have to happen.

  4. Nice write up. You make a statement about Q3 saying that the city is bankrolling the airport. Can you explain?

    The two most recent budgets 2022-23 (EOY Estimate) and 2023-24 (Adopted) show that the revenues at the airport were more than enough to pay for the expenses. And that is with transferring out $2.0-$2.5 million each year to the Airport Construction Fund. Also property taxes collected are not figured into those numbers as income as far as I know.

    You also mention the $800,000 the TIRZ collects in property taxes but then say that number has not changed in years and ask why? According to Collin Counties Tax information that number was just under $400,000 in 2016 and has increased slowly almost every year. So not sure what you mean? A 100% increase (doubling from $400K to $800K) does not seem to fit the comment that it has not changed in years.

    I would also like to add that the McKinney ISD taxes collected did the same thing. They were about $1.1 Million in 2016 and are now $2.3 Million.

    Last you do not talk about the Economic Impact the Airport has?

    In 2018, TxDOT undertook a study of the impact and relationship of airports in Texas with the statewide economy. It is called the Texas Aviation Economic Impact Study.

    This “was not” done at the request of McKinney but naturally Mckinney was in there since they have an Airport.

    In 2018, the Economic Impact for McKinney was estimated at $212 Million a year for the City. If you move onto the 2022, the InterVista Economic Impact Study, it was estimated (with expansion of the Airport) that number could be $600 Million on the low end and as high as $850 Million.

    Would love to see what you have for the total economic impact the Airport provides?

    1. Hi, thanks for reading my writeup.
      You said, "You also mention the $800,000 the TIRZ collects in property taxes but then say that number has not changed in years and ask why? "
      I never said the TIRZ collects that amount. This is the amount the city itself gets (property tax + BPP).
      I also said the number has barely changed (relative to how much money we have invested in it over the years). MISD gets more money from the airport because they weren't dumb enough to participate in the TIRZ.
      Yes, I've seen those reports. "Indirect" benefit being the key. We don't directly get the money we should from the businesses surrounding the airport because they are also in the TIRZ. We might get an increase in business downtown too...but wait, downtown is also in a TIRZ!
      If the city and leadership would be more open about the tradeoffs associated with the airport, their words would have more weight.

    2. The MISD “does not” get more money because “they weren’t dumb enough to participate in the TIRZ”.

      Those numbers $400,000 to $800,000 for the increase in City Tax and $1.1 Million to $2.3 Million for the increase in MISD Tax have nothing to do with participation in the TIRZ. Those are the total taxes collected for the TIRZ.

      The MISD is more because their Tax Rate was about 300% higher than the Cities Tax Rate in 2016 and now about 250% higher than the Cities Tax Rate. That is why the number is higher.

      Just like if you look at the County Taxes Collected. They were $153,000 in 2016 and now $265,000. Those are the “totals”. Again, nothing to do with participation in the TIRZ. Then the County puts 50% of that back into the TIRZ. Oh, and those are lower than the other two because their “Tax Rate” is lower.

      You also say the number has not changed much “relative to how much money we have invested over the years” and in the original post “no matter how many hangers the city builds.”

      Already showed you the doubling of the property taxes over the years, which is partially related to the value of the structures at the airport, so let’s address that second part. Income from fees and rents as property taxes are not the only income.

      2016 FOB Fees - $4.0 Million
      2023 FOB Fees - $10.6 Million
      A 165% increase in FOB Fees

      2016 Hanger Rents/Fees - $2.0 Million
      2023 Hanger Rents/Fees - $4.14 Million
      A 107% increase in Hanger Rents/Fees

      So maybe you can now show us how building more hangers had no effect on those fees?

      Looks like you are only looking at single points of data and looking for an instant ROI on money invested?

    3. Yes, MISD does have a higher tax rate AND it does not participate in the TIRZ.
      Look at how much city taxpayers had to pay over the years to get those returns. Is that a good ROI when city taxpayers will continue to be on the hook for all the infrastructure, etc.
      We won't see any real ROI come into the city general fund unless they get rid of the TIRZ. They just extended it to 2050.

    4. Not true. Only the Cities portion of property tax money and the 50% the County contributes has to stay in the TIRZ.

      The actual Airport Fund Income can transferred out money to any fund they want, including the General Fund.

      Currently they transfer it out to the Airport Construction Fund, which makes perfect sense.

      Do you know when these TIRZ’s expire?

    5. You are not reading things I've written.

  5. Simple question. What Airline is going to make the huge investments and gamble to establish services 25-30 miles from Dallas Love and DFW International?? Best guess McKinney will replicate Alliance in Fort Worth and become a package Hub for Amazon, FedEx and UPS with primarily Night Ops with 757 and larger Jets flying over residents homes. Apparently the City Council and Mayor could care less.

    1. That’s exactly what they’ve already turned it into. Non stop Amazon planes and a CCP China owned training planes are non stop all day every day. Has totally ruined the beautiful rural area. Once a place where you used to be able to hear the birds chirp and now can’t hear the TV if the window is open.

    2. Huh? 757 and larger jets? The airport can barely fit a 737.

      Would also love to see these non stop Amazon Planes? Please get us some pictures as Amazon Flys all their own branded planes.

  6. Thank you for doing what you can to bring transparency and accountability to the way our local leaders are running our towns. Real news and real journalism. It’s appreciated and so very much needed.

  7. Thank you for keeping the community informed. I have trouble understanding who is going to fly out of TKI on small planes to limited number of airline hubs when you can fly to most major cities non-stop on bigger planes from DFW or DAL. When the next election comes around, let's vote these folks out.