The process of restructuring the city of Hannibal has begun. The first casualty of that process is Mark Rees.

The process of restructuring the city of Hannibal has begun. The first casualty of that process is Mark Rees.

Rees’ city engineer position, which he has held since October 2008, was eliminated Wednesday, according to an email memo sent out to members of the city’s senior staff by City Manager Jeff LaGarce on Thursday morning.

According to LaGarce, a “consensual layoff package” was offered by the city and agreed to by Rees. In a phone interview with the Courier-Post Thursday afternoon, LaGarce indicated that Rees was not eligible for early retirement.

LaGarce reported in his email that he and Rees had a “good discussion” Wednesday. The city manager noted there will be “no lawsuit.”

Contacted Thursday afternoon in St. Louis, Rees declined any public comment on the matter.

The decision to cut ties with Rees was done in an attempt to boost city finances, which have lagged following a series of months in which sales tax revenue came in much lower than anticipated.

“This position reduction will be a significant savings, and is simply part of a larger overall savings structure,” wrote LaGarce in his email, adding that he will begin laying out additional recommendations in “groups of two or three” at future council meetings.

“It is important to race these changes to ‘market,’” he added.

LaGarce acknowledged Thursday afternoon he spent much of April, May and June working on strategies that will essentially restructure how the city does things.

It is hoped that the restructuring, if approved by the City Council, will save the city in the neighborhood of $800,000.

“I hope it solves this, but I cannot guarantee it will solve it. Uncontrollables can hurt us deeply,” wrote LaGarce in his email.

Among those “uncontrollables” is the potential loss of $826,000 that America's Hometown would suffer if the General Assembly overrides in September a package of special sales tax breaks vetoed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon last month.

Rees may not be the only senior city administrator departing in the weeks ahead. LaGarce said Thursday afternoon that early retirement packages could be offered to five other veteran staff members.

The elimination of the city engineer’s position will require some changes in that department.

“I’ve got to meet with everyone in that department and establish future work patterns,” LaGarce wrote. “I’ve got to secure a temporary engineering consultant, while preparing a QBS (qualifications-based selection) process for a permanent consulting engineer. With Brian (Chaplin, city project manager) I also need to meet with DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and MoDOT Aviation to get our landfill and airport provisions in place.”

The chain of command now at city hall will find Leon Wallace, street superintendent, Joey Burnham, building inspector, and Chaplin all reporting directly to LaGarce.

“This span of control obviously is too large, but it’s been the de facto reporting structure for years,” wrote LaGarce.