The cost of the downtown sidewalk project in Hannibal is about to grow again. Mark Rees, city engineer, is prepared to report to the City Council Tuesday night that the project’s construction cost will increase by $196,654 to implement a new downtown sidewalk design that is both ADA compliant and acceptable to at least most North Main Street merchants, property owners and residents.
That amount, if approved by the Council, will be on top of Bleigh Construction’s original bid of $828,000, hiking the overall construction cost past $1 million.
“I hate that it’s that much money and I feel a little bit frustrated by it,” said Rees. “But I’ve looked at the numbers and that’s what Bleigh has come up with.”
In the city manager’s office, Jeff LaGarce is breathing a sigh of relief.
“While the additional cost is significant, I’m pleased it wasn’t more,” he said.
Neither the state, which has designated $353,034 for the project, nor North Main property owners, who in 2011 agreed to help offset a funding shortfall by paying a special assessment, will chip in more to pay for the latest cost increase.
“Anything else we’ve added and changed, the city has intended to foot the bill,” said Rees. “That actually helps the process, too, because the state doesn’t have to evaluate the merits of our changes or additions.”
Rees suggests that the funds necessary to pay the additional expense could come from a combination of bond issue money and half-cent sales tax revenue that is designated for transportation-related projects throughout the city. LaGarce hopes to avoid using bond money.
“These additional costs will be sourced from the Street Fund, as the additional costs involve re-aligning the street to fit a 12-foot sidewalk of ADA accessibility. We probably won’t use bond funding; we’ve committed that to a different project,” said the city manager, adding he would prefer not having to scale back citywide road resurfacing in order to cover the sidewalk project’s additional cost.
LaGarce offered another option where the bulk of the $196,000 might come.
“The city has received approximately $130,000 from the retirement of the Stardust TDD, which by law, must be used for transportation. If we use that money, we’re only $66,000 short, and a healthy economy may allow for additional one-half cent sales tax dollars to accommodate the remainder of this new cost,” he said. “If not, it may have to come from the (annual) $600,000 in overlays. But remember, a big part of this project is an overlay of all downtown streets except Broadway, North and Lyon, so taking the funds from ‘overlay’ dollars would still constitute overlays – of downtown streets.”