Airport privatization consultants delayed by unsigned contract
When the Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved a contract with advisors to explore the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport last month, it appeared the process was ready to take off after months of delays.
The city’s working group held its first meeting.
The first meeting of all the consultants and advisors on the project was scheduled.
But, there was a problem. The contract between the city and the lead consultants had not been signed.
As it turned out, Comptroller Darlene Green was holding off on signing the contract until she could ask for an amendment to clarify who will pay for the advisory team. Any change needs the approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment — which includes the comptroller, the mayor and the president of the Board of Aldermen.
"It was implicit in the contract itself that there would be no payments by the city. But this amendment makes it explicit." -Darlene Green
At Wednesday’s meeting, Green’s amendment was approved without discussion. She said the change clarified that the city is not paying the consultants’ fees throughout the exploratory process.
“This contract enables us to hire, and then the consultant will be making the payments, not the city,” Green told reporters after the meeting adjourned. “This is just a clarification of that point, and nothing more.”
The consultant is the nonprofit Grow Missouri, funded by pro-privatization billionaire Rex Sinquefield. Grow Missouri offered to pay the fees for the application to the Federal Aviation Administration to launch the privatization process, plus all the consultant fees — with one caveat: The city would be obligated to repay those fees if, and only if, it approves a public-private partnership contract for the airport.
Green said this pay structure was implicit in the approved contract. But she wanted to make it “explicit.”
“Payments come if, in fact, a lease agreement occurs, and only then,” she said. “If there is no contract for a lease for privatization, then there shall not be any payments made on behalf of that process on behalf of the city.”
Asked when the contract will be signed so the consultants can get to work, Green replied: “As soon as this amendment gets added in.” Neither Mayor Lyda Krewson, nor President Lewis Reed offered to comment on the timing.
As she turned to leave, Green added, “And FYI: I’m still not in favor of the process.”
Text of Green's amendment approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment July 18, 2018:
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