The city has a June 30 deadline to apply to the Missouri Department of Transportation for reimbursement of airport engineering costs under a $5.95 million grant, plus later deadlines this year for $3.1 million and $9.1 million grants.
The council on Thursday adopted guidelines and a timeline for making short-term decisions on airport expansion.
Public Works Director Chuck Owsley said he wanted the council to adopt a five-year capital-improvement plan for the airport, once a final report is available from consultants on how to schedule expansion.
Short-term priorities would be a control tower and adding land required for the airport's layout.
The council is expected to vote on land acquisition in April.
Councilmen Ed Cockrell and Joe Spallo voted against the plan, and Councilwoman Tess Hurley was absent.
Cockrell said he voted no because the timeline doesn't include an "exit strategy" if the council decides to stop short of building a longer runway. But he does want to consider the step of building a control tower to better control flights over nearby neighborhoods and adding land required to keep the airport up to Federal Aviation Administration standards.