Local Residents Vote Down Airport Expansion

Airplane taking off. | Image by motive56

McKinney residents voted down a bond proposal to finance the expansion of McKinney National Airport earlier this month, forcing City officials to pursue other financing options.

Just over 58% of McKinney residents voted against the proposed $200 million bond on May 6, which would have added a 144,000-square-foot commercial passenger terminal. McKinney National Airport currently only serves business flights, flight training, and medical flights.

As The Dallas Express reported in February, the McKinney City Council voted 6-0 to put the $200 million bond on this month’s ballot. In addition to the terminal, the proposal called for adding over 2,000 parking lot spaces and other facilities to the airport.

The project’s total cost was estimated at approximately $300 million, with $100 million expected to be funded by grants.

Supporters of the proposal argued that the local economy would get a boost once the airport expansion opened in 2026, creating over 3,000 new jobs and generating as much as $850 million in profit, as The Dallas Express reported.

Despite such potential benefits, Mayor George Fuller said a major campaign was launched to oppose the expansion.

Leading up to the vote on May 6, public hearings were held in March and April, where residents had a chance to voice their concerns.

“The opposition we heard was people were afraid it was going to raise taxes,” Fuller said, speaking with The Dallas Morning News.

Assistant City Manager Barry Shelton claimed that allegedly false information circulated on social media that convinced voters taxes would be raised if the bond passed, DMN reported.

The wording of the bond might have also fueled such an understanding.

Micah Russian told DMN that the way the bond was laid out “basically put [city taxpayers] on the hook for anything that went wrong.”

Kim Meeks of Fairview, who co-founded an opposition group against the bond, similarly claimed the proposal’s language had the “potential for a bait and switch.”

“So a government can say they are not raising taxes, but who is to say they won’t do it?” Meeks said to DMN. “If voters said yes, permission has been granted.”

As The Dallas Express previously reported, another major concern voiced during the public hearings was the potential for increased noise. The impact of noise on nearby residences and wildlife preserves was repeatedly raised, despite environmental studies claiming the effect would be minimal.

Some residents simply thought that expanding the airport was not worth $200 million in debt and preferred seeing other projects come to fruition, like infrastructure improvements or a new park.

“If that $200 million is tied up in an airport venture we lose the opportunity to use that money for other purposes,” explained McKinney resident Michael Cochrum, speaking with DMN.

Noting that the airport expansion project did not even have an airline onboard to make McKinney its hub, Cochrum said, “In my opinion, the city should not be using taxpayer funds for speculative investment.”

To Fuller, adding a commercial terminal to the airport would have been a potentially transformative endeavor.

“I feel like it’s a missed opportunity for the city but we will look at different paths forward for the airport,” Fuller said, according to Community Impact.

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