Airport consultants still wait to be paid
By Michelle L. quinn Post-Tribune correspondent March 10, 2014 11:38PM
The first details of a tentative deal to redevelop the Gary/Chicago International Airport were released Monday. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: March 11, 2014 4:23PM
GARY — Three of the consultants the Gary/Chicago International Airport used in securing its public-private partnership won’t be paid for their work for the foreseeable future, though that could change at any moment.
Interim authority chairman James Cooper explained Monday that the way the initial agreement was crafted, those consultants — JClark Aviation, A.C. Advisory Inc., and Hawthorne Strategy Group of Chicago — would be paid by the company chosen for the 40-year partnership. That’s Aviation Facilities Co. Inc. (AFCO/AvPorts), of Dulles, Va., which the airport authority board chose in January.
In the final agreement, however, AFCO/AvPorts rejected that stipulation, Cooper said.
“If we don’t have a partner, they (consultants) wouldn’t be paid,” he said. “If (we) do, (but) they (AFCO/AvPorts) don’t approve it, we’re bound by the four corners of that agreement.”
Cooper said there’s nothing barring the contract with AFCO/AvPorts from being amended to allow for payment.
The unpaid fees are mostly out-of-pocket expenses the three companies incurred while working on the public-private partnership structure, Cooper said.
He said a fourth company, Chicago-based Faegre Bakers Daniels, will be paid because it, unlike the other firms, didn’t take on the project on a contingency basis.
At Monday’s meeting of the airport authority’s board, members heard from AFCO/AvPorts president and chief executive Oswin “Ozzie” Moore, who gave an update on the transition process to have the company take over daily operation of the airport.
The company is negotiating with the person whom Moore hopes will be the airport’s general manager, but he plans to have someone in an interim position before April 1 to keep the transition moving forward.
“We have the responsibility,” Moore said. “I want a person who understands the business of the airport, but they also need to understand working with government and business. I think (taking our time) is the right thing to do to get the right person.”
Moore also said there’s no immediate plans to cut existing airport staff.
In other business, the board voted 5-0 to hire Indianapolis-based Sycamore Partners as its financial adviser. The board did not renew the contract of its previous adviser, Acacia Partners, of Chicago. Sycamore Partners will be paid the same hourly rate as Acacia Partners, Cooper said.