Runoff City Council election in Hannibal so far costs just under $2,500.
The cost of last month's city charter-mandated special election in Hannibal could actually wind up being less than had been anticipated.
Marion County Clerk Valerie Dornberger reports sending a bill for $2,495.20 to Hannibal City Hall to cover the county's expenses incurred during the April 18 runoff that pitted Colin Welch against Gordon Ipson for the Fifth Ward Council seat. Welch prevailed by a margin of 116-61.
Considering only 177 of the ward's approximately 1,500 registered voters participated in the runoff, the cost to the city thus far amounts to $14.10 per ballot cast. But that figure will climb as more special-election bills arrive.
“I haven’t received the bill for Ralls County yet or the advertising bill from the Courier-Post, so I don’t have an exact total,” wrote Hannibal City Clerk Angel Zerbonia in an e-mail Friday morning. Zerbonia added that she now anticipates the final total will be “slightly less than $5,000 total.”
Prior to the runoff Zerbonia projected that the cost would be “about half” of the $12,000 to $13,000 the city typically pays for a municipal election.
Money had not been set aside to cover the runoff's cost.
“The city has an election budget line item in General Expenditures, which after the municipal election, will go over the budgeted amount,” said Zerbonia in April. “I will have to request a budget amendment from the City Council and will work with the finance director to determine where the actual dollars will come from.”
According to Dornberger, the city's cost from Marion County for the April 4 municipal election was $7,571.50 for all wards and issues. Also listed as city expenses related to the April 4 vote was a $245.16 bill from Gatehouse Media (Hannibal Courier-Post) and a charge of $253.61 from Ralls County. Zerbonia added there were other advertising expenses related to the municipal election that occurred earlier in the year.
Dornberger is not in a rush to be reimbursed for the county's election services.
“There is no deadline for them to reimburse the county, but they are usually very prompt with payment,” she said.
The city charter requires a runoff election occur between the top two vote-getters in any municipal election in which there are three or more candidates seeking the same office and none receives over 50 percent of the votes cast.
Such was the case on April 4 when Welch led all Fifth Ward candidates with 159 votes, or 47.9 percent. The runner-up was Ipson, with 105 votes (31.6 percent). Third in the three-man field was Richard Garrett with 68 votes (20.5 percent).
Doing away with runoff votes would not be a decision made at the City Council level.
“Any changes to the charter need to be approved by a majority vote of the people,” said Zerbonia last month.
Runoff elections in Hannibal are rare. Prior to last month the last such election occurred in April 2010 when there was not one, but two races which met the city's runoff criteria. Those races featured candidates from the Second and Third Wards.
The Second Ward runoff matched Mike Dobson and Joe Lyng. In the Third Ward, Lou Barta squared off against Roy Que Ferrel Jr.
Dobson and Barta prevailed in the runoffs.
Prior to 2010, the last runoff had taken place in 2001 when Jason Janes, the runner-up in the municipal election, edged out incumbent George Danforth in the runoff.
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org