Prop A, to add commercial to McKinney's airport, is on the ballot coming up this May 23rd.
The consultant reports alone raise some red flags about the claims in support of the bond. This is a lot of debt that is being asked for taxpayers to take on. Considering that voters said no at the ballot box in 2015 for a much smaller $50M airport bond, McKinney taxpayers may not have as much of an appetite for airport expansion as some of the movers and shakers do.
“THE ISSUANCE OF $200,000,000 GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS FOR A COMMERCIAL AIR SERVICE TERMINAL AND RELATED IMPROVEMENTS AT THE CITY’S AIRPORT AND THE IMPOSITION OF A TAX SUFFICIENT TO PAY THE PRINCIPAL OF AND INTEREST ON THE BONDS.”
The city will spend over $4.3M on paid consultants to tell us there are great potential economic benefits of commercial airline service at McKinney's TKI airport. If the bond passes, there will be more.
Here's the city's commercial presentation.
The city consultants gave us a Traveler Insight Survey that says fliers near TKI might try TKI if there are a variety of cheap flights, non-stop flights, and/or a choice of carrier. It will take a lot for fliers to use TKI over DFW or DAL. The larger airports have a variety of carriers, non-stop flights, and multiple ticket price options needed to lure business and leisure travelers even if they have to drive farther.
Another city consultant gave us a Market Analysis Study. This study looked at the catchment areas for travelers in certain zip codes based solely on drive time to the various airports. The study clarifies that it "does not take into account any other considerations that may influence passenger behavior" (p.19). Remember, passenger behavior, according to the city's traveler insight survey suggests price, non-stop options, and/or variety of carriers are more likely to influence traveler behavior than zip code.
This study also does not take into account what would happen if a larger airport, like the North Texas Regional Airport in Grayson County, opens up for passenger service.
With some pretty important factors missing, the city's consultants arrived at the catchment areas that are the basis for the very low, medium, and very high enplanements (total number of revenue passengers boarding an aircraft that includes original and transfer passengers). It also gives number of flights and gates needed for those enplanement numbers.
The Economic Impact Report is based on the numbers arrived at in the Market Analysis Study.
Another consultant has a fiscal model citizens cannot see because it is proprietary, according to the city manager. The modeling done so far suggests the city will need to pay the bond debt at least until 2040 if everything that is supposed to happen actually happens.
Additionally, the last study, the environmental impact study, will still be in process on election day. This study still has to go through TxDOT, the FAA, and formal public hearings. The amount of mitigation that must be done and the costs associated will not be known until near the end of 2023. Noise, pollution, wetlands, waterways, bird migration routes, and the Heard Sanctuary impact are pretty important. There has been one public viewing of the findings so far. There will be one more before the election.
There is no way to know whether these findings released to the public are being curated or not.