ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – With just about a month left in office, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay makes a major proposal for the future of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The plan, which is catching many around city hall by surprise, puts Lambert on a waiting list to possibly be leased by private investors.

Right now, the airport is owned by the city, but remains a separate entity that can’t pump cash into the city to help.

The city is facing a $20 million budget shortfall, as Slay announces he’s signed up the airport through an FAA program.

A news release from his office says the move is preliminary, but could free up airport revenue for other municipal purposes.

KMOX’s John Hancock and Michael Kelley spoke with Slay Thursday morning about the possible private/public partnership for Lambert Airport. LISTEN below:

Also of interest, Slay’s office says the group paying for the application is Grow Missouri Inc. That group is funded by Rex Sinquefield, the billionaire political activist pushing an end to the city’s earnings tax and a St. Louis city-county marriage.

Meanwhile, the Democratic nominee for mayor isn’t offering strong opinions one way or another. Lyda Krewson says she needs more details, but it’s worth a look.

“We all agree, I think, that the airport needs investment, so it’s something worth exploring, worth looking at,” she says. “We’ll go down that road and we’re not under any obligation, as I understand it, at this point in time, so I think it’s an interesting idea that’s worth exploring.”

Krewson isn’t concerned that Sinquefield’s Grow Missouri would be financially connected because she says he’s done good things for the city.