Story County asked to pitch in $1 million toward $411 million Des Moines airport expansion

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune

The Des Moines International Airport is asking for $1 million from Story County, and $1 million more from local cities, for a new terminal.

Des Moines Airport Executive Director Kevin Foley presented the request to the Story County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday. The expansion would nearly double the current number of gates by 2026 from 12 to 22.

The airport is asking that more than $30 million of the $411 million project be covered by counties and cities around central Iowa. The Story County Board of Supervisors did not vote on the proposal Tuesday.

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The Des Moines International Airport is the state's largest airport, with 65% of Iowa's commercial traffic and 50% of its air cargo. According to the airport, passenger growth has increased by 67% over the last 10 years. 

The airport board has been planning the new terminal since 2016; to accommodate rising demand, the board projects it will need space for 25 planes. The plan includes 22 gates and additional remote spots. The current terminal was built in 1948. 

The airport is not supported by property taxes and has been independent of the city of Des Moines since 2011. It is now looking for financial support from a number of municipalities, including Story County and its cities. 

The requests for Story County and individual cities total $2 million over four years. The airport has not presented its request to any of the Story County cities yet, but Huxley already declined to participate. Foley told the board that the proposed allocations were decided by population and distance. 

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In a list of most airport users by ZIP Code, Ames' codes ranked 13th and 15th, while Nevada was 35th and Story City was 62nd.

The airport is seeking $34.3 million total from over 25 counties and cities across central Iowa. 

Despite municipalities like Jasper County denying financial support and Newton agreeing to only half of the requested allocation, Foley said municipal funding is approaching $30 million. The city of Des Moines and Polk County would contribute $10 million each to the project. 

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.