Messenger: Cost to start down runway of airport privatization in St. Louis? More than $800,000 per month.

Source: Tony Messenger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 2018

There’s a new payday loan outfit in town, and it’s taking up residence in St. Louis City Hall. It’s called the Bank of Rex. Borrowers beware: The costs of taking a loan from this bank are significant. They are outlined in a series of documents obtained by the Post-Dispatch in a Sunshine Law request that show how much consultants who are working under the control of a nonprofit called Grow Missouri will be paid as they advise the city on whether to privatize operations at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The costs are steep, up to $800,000 per month or more for the one to two years it might take to make a recommendation on the airport’s future. If that happens, those monthly costs will be paid by city taxpayers out of the proceeds of what is effectively a risky auction of the city’s top asset. …

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St. Louis aldermen call for transparency as city considers privatization of Lambert
Source: Celeste Bott, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 19, 2018

A committee tasked with picking a team of consultants to advise the city on whether to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport has met several times but has yet to choose advisers to lead the process. There were 11 submissions for consulting services, Deputy Mayor for Development Linda Martinez told the Post-Dispatch. Only three covered all services sought in the city’s request for proposals, she said, and the others only covered part of the services. The identity of the winning bidder won’t be revealed until a contract is agreed upon. … No vote was taken when the committee met Wednesday. Instead, much of the session was devoted to providing information to several city aldermen, amid growing concern from members of the board that the process, which was greenlighted by the Federal Aviation Administration in April, hasn’t been transparent. … Critics have questioned the need for privatizing Lambert, citing its recent growth, including a 10 percent spike in passengers in 2016, and a strong credit rating. … The effort to explore the benefits and risks of privatization has been a slow one. …

Lambert director has mixed feelings on privatization, pushes Congress on higher fees
Source: Adam Aton, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 23, 2017

The director of St. Louis Lambert International Airport said Thursday she’s keeping an open mind about a proposal to privatize its management. Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge also said she has reservations about the shift’s potential to steer more money from the airport to the city. Mayor Francis Slay traveled to Washington this week to ask for St. Louis’ inclusion in a Federal Aviation Administration pilot program to study leasing airport operations to a private business. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and Lyda Krewson, the Democratic nominee for mayor, have said the idea deserves examination, and political mega-donor Rex Sinquefield has made a six-figure commitment to help pay for the application. The FAA could decide this month whether to include Lambert in the program, starting a decision-making process that could take at least a year. If the change were made, the city still would own the airport and land while a private company leases it. … The city draws about $6 million annually from the airport, and a public-private partnership could bring an “immediate” infusion of more funds, according to the city. … Congress is considering how infrastructure projects might fit into the FAA’s reauthorization legislation. …