ST. LOUIS • Four entities would need to approve the leasing of St. Louis Lambert International Airport to a private operator. A proposal moving through the Board of Aldermen would add a fifth layer: the voting public.
Those four crucial hurdles are the Board of Aldermen, the Federal Aviation Administration, the majority of airlines operating here and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which is made up of Mayor Lyda Krewson, Comptroller Darlene Green and Aldermanic President Lewis Reed.
Krewson says she isn't sure a public vote will be necessary to move forward on a deal, if a deal is ever reached at all.
"I personally think those four groups will do a good job of evaluating any proposal if we get to the point where we even receive proposals," she said.
St. Louis applied to the Federal Aviation Administration to explore privatization in April 2017, but the first major step in the process happened this summer, when top city officials approved contracts for a team of advisers.
Krewson contends its too early to think about putting the matter on a ballot, when the city is only a few months into what will likely be an 18- to 24-month process.
"I don't think we have anything to vote on right now. So it's preliminary. If we had a proposal before us, we maybe should think about that, but I don't think there's anything to vote on right now," she said.
Sponsoring Alderman Cara Spencer pushed back on that assertion on Thursday, calling the mayor's comments disappointing.
"The public needs to know what the road map for the next two years looks like," said Spencer, who represents the 20th Ward. "This is also setting up for investors to understand the process that will happen here in St. Louis. That yes, the public will get a vote.
"I'm really disappointed to think that the government alone, with the process that we've gone thus far, with the conflicts of interest, would be acceptable, good enough," she added.
Krewson said she expected the city would be able to put out a request for proposals for potential private operators in the first quarter of 2019.
There have been three public hearings on Spencer's bill, which remains before the Board of Aldermen's transportation committee.
A group of petitioners calling themselves “STL: Not for Sale” also is collecting signatures to put any future privatization deal on the ballot.