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"County hires consultant, moves forward with NY airportprivatization"


 
Friday, February 17, 2017

County hires consultant, moves forward with airport privatization
Frasca and Associates, which has worked with Stewart International Airport and 
the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, will help the county weigh bids to run the 
airport
By Matt Coyne
The Lower Hudson (NY) Journal News


WHITE PLAINS - The county has hired Frasca and Associates to help them find a 
private operator for Westchester County Airport.

Based in New York City, the firm bills itself as a transportation consultant 
and financial adviser and counts Stewart International Airport and the Puerto 
Rico Ports Authority - both entities that have gone through the airport 
privatization process  before - as clients. The contract, approved unanimously 
by the Board of Acquisition and Contract Thursday morning, will pay the company 
$550,000.

"Collectively, we've all teed this up correctly where we will have a firm in 
place," said County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz, who chairs both the Board of 
Legislators and the Board of Acquisition and Contract. "We will be able to take 
the next step and scour the marketplace to see who would be willing and able to 
step up."

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Kaplowitz, D-Somers, painted the deal as a joint effort between the legislature 
and County Executive Rob Astorino's office. The two butted heads late last year 
over the initial contract to lease the county-owned airport to Oaktree Capital 
Management for years in exchange for $140 million over the life of the lease.

The plan to privatize the airport was first floated by Astorino in November, 
surprising legislators ahead of budget season. They balked at the one-party 
nature of the deal - the county directed advisers Canadian Imperial Bank of 
Commerce to negotiate solely with Oaktree - and the time frame, as the county 
executive was counting on revenue from the lease in the 2017 county budget to 
keep from having to raise property taxes.

The legislature decided they would seek bidders on their own and would hire 
their own adviser to help evaluate the deals.

If completed Westchester County Airport would be the third airport ever 
privatized since a Federal Aviation Administration pilot program started in the 
1990's. The first was Stewart, near Newburgh, which cut a deal with National 
Express Group which started in 2000 and lasted until 2007, when the Port 
Authority of New York and New Jersey took over.

Frasca also counts the Port Authority as clients.

Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico, was 
the second airport to be privatized, finalizing a deal with Oaktree in 2013. 
That deal is still in place.

The legislature hopes to have a deal in place this year, but it remains to be 
seen if Astorino will play ball with the legislature's pick.

"The county executive, myself and our team is very excited to move forward with 
the process," said Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, who stood in for 
Astorino at Thursday's meeting. "We're going to hit the ground running with 
this new consultant."
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