Paul Payne | St. Louis Public Radio

Paul Payne

St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Denver International Airport last month pulled the plug on a nearly $2 billion deal with a Spanish company leading a public-private partnership.

That’s of interest in St. Louis, where the company — Ferrovial Airports — may bid to lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Some city officials are taking a wait-and-see approach, while others hear alarm bells.

(Sept. 11, 2019) City officials Paul Payne (at left) and Linda Martinez joined Wednesday's talk show to discuss the state of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport privatization process.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For two and a half years, the city of St. Louis has been exploring the idea of leasing St. Louis Lambert International Airport. An army of consultants has been toiling — largely behind closed doors — to put together a request for qualifications. They hope to attract a private company willing to pay big money up front in hopes of profiting off future airport operations. While other cities have flirted with the idea, the leasing of a major U.S. airport is unprecedented. 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, two high-ranking city officials joined the program to discuss the state of the privatization conversation: Paul Payne, the city budget director and chairman of the airport working group, and Linda Martinez, deputy mayor for development.

Taken at Bishop Du Bourg High School on 06/27/19
File photo | Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Late last month, a person who identified himself as Dominique called St. Louis on the Air to weigh in on a discussion about airport privatization.

“I think that right now it might be premature one way or the other to try to draw some conclusions simply because it’s a process that’s not been concluded,” Dominique said on the air. “There is no decision at this point.”

Even as Dominique spoke, questions arose about whether the caller was really Douglass Petty, the communications manager for the St. Louis airport advisory working group. While St. Louis Public Radio so far has been unable to obtain its call log from AT&T, the radio station did have a forensic audio analysis performed that shows Dominique was “very likely” Petty.

Outside the Enterprise Center on 05/22/19 , the day after The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks to go to the Stanley Cup Final.
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

So far this year, the St. Louis Blues have generated nearly $4 million in city revenue. And now that the hockey team is headed to the Stanley Cup Final, the city expects an extra financial bump.

That’s according to estimates from St. Louis Budget Director Paul Payne. He said the city will predominantly benefit from direct revenue brought in from sales taxes on tickets. Indirect money from spending on things like concessions, parking, restaurants and hotels will also contribute to the city’s budget.

“I’d estimated back at the beginning of the playoffs you’d see the three games would probably be somewhere in the area of $300,000, which would go up with each succeeding series,” he said.

Because a pending state bill doesn't pre-empt local minimum wage laws passed before August 28, Board of Aldermen members may act fast on passing a minimum wage increase.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at June 30 with final passage — The Board of Aldermen voted 23-1 on Friday to send the fiscal year 2018 budget to Mayor Lyda Krewson.

The $1 billion spending plan is mostly flat compared to last year, driven by a combination of slower revenue growth and increases in pension costs.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 26 with result of E&A voteSt. Louis aldermen will have another $2.3 million to distribute when they start looking at the city’s budget for fiscal year 2018.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved changes Wednesday to the draft budget, leaving the new use tax revenue available for things like public safety and affordable housing. Previously, the entire amount had gone to closing a $17 million deficit.