Memphis Official Brags of Spending ‘A Lot’ of Taxpayer Money

Memphis Airport

State and federal taxpayers are about to shell out $123 million to spruce up the Memphis International Airport.

The people who decided that are reportedly proud of the hefty price tag.

As The Tennessee Star previously reported, traffic at the airport has fallen dramatically in recent years.

According to The Memphis Business Journal, “smiles were shared all around” among members of the Airport Authority who made this decision.

An additional $32 million will go to replace the airport’s 25 passenger boarding bridges.

The paper then quoted MSCAA CEO Scott Brockman of saying the following:

“We spent a lot of money today.”

According to the paper, Brockman said this “with a wide smile.”

Airport spokesman Glen Thomas didn’t dispute the accuracy of the quote in an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star.

“I think the point about spending money is that we are making a significant investment to improve the travel experience for Memphis travelers,” Thomas said.

The airport authority, he added, receives no local tax revenue for any of its projects and is “a self-financing entity.”

“Project funding for both of these projects will come from general airport revenue bonds, state and federal grants, passenger facility charges and other capital funds,” Thomas said.

According to the paper, the money will pay to overhaul the airport’s Concourse B.

The $123 million contract, the Memphis Business Journal reported, was awarded to Flintco LLC, an Oklahoma-based firm with a major Memphis presence.

“The company’s bid came in slightly below two of the other three pre-qualified general contractors — Memphis-based W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. and a joint venture between Montgomery-based Caddell Construction and Atlanta-based FS360 General Contractors — and well below the third, Archer Wester Construction,” the paper said.

Work is scheduled to begin in October and will finish in 30 months, the paper said.

Northwest Airlines was once the airport’s most dominant carrier. Then Delta gobbled it up. Delta decided it only needed one hub in the South, in Atlanta. That decision cost Memphis almost two-thirds of its passengers, according to a recent New York Times story.

The result — three concourses are left and most of its gates are unused. Airports officials will spend $219 million to close and renovate Concourse B and mothball concourses A & C.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

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