- Associated Press - Monday, September 7, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The director of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is pledging to rein in a program that has doled out free parking to everyone from mayors to senators, lobbyists and even the spouses of former elected officials.

A total of about 150 holders of the cards get free long-term parking at some of the airport’s best locations and avoid the hourly fees that can run up to $23 a day, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1JHMFD0) reported.

The perk costs the airport virtually nothing because Lambert - owned and operated by the city of St. Louis - already owns the parking garages. But the courtesy means lost revenue at time the city is arguing for public tax and fee increases to fund everything from infrastructure improvements to additional police officers.

On Sept. 1, Lambert’s director, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, told cardholders in writing that the cards will be deactivated on Oct. 1. Hamm-Niebruegge said she doesn’t see a “valid reason going forward” for so many people to have the cards under the program she said has existed for at least three decades and benefited, at the airport’s discretion, those who added value to the airport.

“It was done out of an honor and courtesy to them,” she said. “Times have changed.”



The newspaper, citing documents it obtained through open-records laws, said cardholders have included members of St. Louis and St. Louis County governing boards, several state lawmakers and suburban St. Louis mayors, as well as former airport commissioners, taxi commissioners and lobbyists.

Hamm-Niebruegge’s recent letter to cardholders included a form in which people can request to keep their free parking, as well as her willingness to consider the requests on a “case-by-case” basis.

“Quite honestly I don’t think anyone will fill that form out,” she told the newspaper.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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