ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed wants the voters to decide if they want St. Louis Lambert International Airport to be leased to a private company.
Reed said he filed a bill that would put the privatization question to the voters and would set a minimum price for any deal. If approved by voters, the bill would also create oversight to ensure the money coming from a lease agreement would be distributed equitably.
According to a press release from Reed's office, the total proceeds of any lease would need to include the payment of airport debt and be worth at least $1.7 billion. The bill also says the airport can never be sold and the city could only enter a lease agreement if 60% of the voters approve the deal.
The bill would create a trust fund to direct at least $1 billion from the lease for programs to improve neighborhood safety and development, job and vocational training and maintenance to streets, bridges, parks and other city infrastructure projects.
The bill would create a checks-and-balances system to ensure the money is spread in and equitable way across the city.
“We have to invest in North St. Louis or else the rest of our City will continue to suffer," Reed said in the press release. "Without a significant influx of capital, we will continue to see poverty rates worse than that of a third world country, violent crime rates continuing to increase and more people leaving the City."
According to the U.S. Census, St. Louis neighborhoods north of Delmar Boulevard are 99% Black. Those neighborhoods have significantly lower median home values and median incomes than the neighbors south of Delmar, which are more than 70% white.
The bill will be introduced at Friday morning's Board of Aldermen meeting. If passed by the board, the bill would appear on the ballot in November.
Late last year, Mayor Lyda Krewson effectively halted the privatization process when she asked her representative on a city panel examining the issue not to vote to issue a request for proposals to firms interested in leasing Lambert.