ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis voters could decide whether the city should privatize Lambert International Airport come this fall.
The privatization of the airport has been a controversial and divisive issue for the Board of Aldermen.
The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote within the next couple weeks on whether to put it on the November 3 ballot.
The NAACP and Carpenter's Union have already collected enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
Supporters look to the roughly $1.7 billion it would bring into the city and how the money could be used to improve neighborhoods.
Opponents say the voters are being duped on this project.
If passed, possible changes of the airport would happen including expanding parking, consolidating the flight gates, increasing fees on shuttle, taxi and limo services and increasing cargo operations.
If voters pass the proposal, the city could enter into a lease agreement of at least $1.7 billion dollars with additional payments of at least $6.5 million. The lease would be up to 49 years.
“We can directly address systemic issues around the city,.like the root cause of crime. When we see these murders that continue to happen in our city, we have to be able to address the poverty in these neighborhoods,” said Board President Lewis Reed.
Supporters say the money would be used to create safer neighborhoods, job development, vocational training, streets, bridges and the city infrastructure.
Critics, however, have called the proposal half-baked and Alderwoman Cara Spencer says it's a rush job.
“Well, it looks like we [the Board of Aldermen] are planning on ramming this thing through at lightning speed. This has been before us a whopping seven days. They're planning on wrapping this thing up by Thursday, which will give us less than two weeks to even consider the $1 billion,” said Spencer.
“We have massive infrastructure issues across our city. families in poverty and one half of our city has not seen economic growth for years,” Reed added.
“To use it as a cash cow is a short-sighted solution to what is a real problem. We have got to figure out ways of reinvesting in north St. Louis, but selling off our assets is really not the way to go about doing it if we want to have in long term a viable city,” Spencer argued.
If the city puts the issue on the ballot, it won't be the only Lambert privatization plan for voters to vote on.
Supporters say the proposal from Reed would spell out how the money from the privatization would be used.