Gary airport takes step toward borrowing $35 million

2014-06-23T16:15:00Z 2014-06-24T06:40:09Z Gary airport takes step toward borrowing $35 millionKeith Benman, (219) 933-3326

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority on Monday took the first step toward borrowing $35 million to help pay for its $166 million runway expansion project.

The Authority Board voted 5-0 to accept the introduction of an ordinance that authorizes issuing bonds for up to $35 million, while leaving the door open to possible low-interest financing through the Indiana Finance Authority.

Next, a public hearing on the anticipated bond issue must take place, said Rich Hill, an attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels advising the airport. The earliest the authority could vote on final approval of the ordinance would be July 14.

Authority member Denise Dillard asked Hill if questions that led to a similar borrowing being called off last year had been resolved.

"Are we at the point now, and that was the mayor's question, do we have enough?" Dillard asked.

Hill responded that for the first time it can be demonstrated the $166 million project is fully funded, once the anticipated borrowing is thrown into the mix. He said more detail on funding sources will be forthcoming at the public hearing to be held before the authority next month.

The ordinance the authority is considering would allow part of the $35 million to consist of low-interest financing through the Indiana Finance Authority, Hill said. Discussions are underway to see if the state agency can assist.

The project to expand the runway has been underway for eight years. It was delayed as negotiations with railroads dragged on and most recently by problems mitigating pollution on newly acquired properties.

Airport Director B.R. Lane reported no one had opposed a railroad application to abandon the Fort Wayne line north of the airport during a public comment period conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration. That overcomes one more hurdle to moving railroad tracks out of the way of the runway expansion, she said.

The Airport Authority in another 5-0 vote on Monday approved hiring Cender Co., of Merrillville, for up to $49,980 to update a report that will be needed to reassure investors and successfully complete the bond offering.

In other action, the authority approved adding $150,650 to an existing environmental services contract with engineering firm DLZ. That brings the contract total to $320,650, consultant Dan Vicari told the authority.

The authority also hired Resolute Consulting, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm, to perform public relations work for the Airport Authority. Resolute will be paid $7,500 per month under its contract.

The authority also hired two appraisers to appraise 53 parcels of land that surround the airport that are now under the control of the authority.

Professional Appraisal Services, of Chicago, will be paid $8,400 for the job and Gorman Group, of East Hazel Crest, will be paid $8,875. The two companies were the low bidders on the project.

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