City eyes borrowed money to fund first phase of airport terminal construction

Columbia airport terminal funding

COLUMBIA, Mo. - More than $14 million in bonds would help fund the first construction phase of a new airport terminal, according to interim City Manager John Glascock's plan.

The plan laid out in the city's Fiscal Year 2020 budget calls for borrowing $14.2 million, backed by money from the hotel tax and passenger fees, to begin building the new terminal. Construction is slated to start next summer, with bonds being issued this winter. Glascock also called for $2 million to come from the city's designated loan fund, $3 million in transportation sales tax money and $800,000 of the recently raised hotel tax.

Airport leaders have planned for the new terminal for several years, preparing land to the east of the current terminal for construction. The city paid engineering firm Burns and McDonnell $1.2 million in July to help prepare for construction.

City spokesman Steve Sapp said the special obligation bonds would not need voter approval in the same way the city has pursued bonds for electric and water utility projects. The money backing the special obligation bonds comes from a temporary tax and passenger fees, rather than money made from the service a utility provides. Sapp said he expected the Columbia City Council to vote on pursuing the bonds for the airport project some time this year.

Numbers from the airport show that 24,336 people used COU in June 2019, its highest level of traffic this year. It's a 4 percent increase over last month and an 11 percent increase over June 2018's traffic. Airlines added several new flights to and from COU in April.

Airport leaders anticipate the terminal project to cost $35 million and wrap up by the 2022.


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