Cost of BPW Board advisory team to total around $1,000 an hour

Expert advice doesn’t come cheap.

According to Bob Stevenson, general manager of the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW), the HBPW will be billed in the neighborhood of $1,000 an hour by a team of advisors that met with the organization’s board on Monday, May 8, regarding its options pertaining to the voter-mandated discontinuation of chloramines - a mixture of chlorine and ammonia - in the city’s water disinfection process.

The cost should not come as too big of a surprise considering the group of advisors was expected to consist of “five lawyers from different specialties plus a professional engineer,” according to Stevenson on May 5.

Be it the cost, or the difficulty in bringing the group of advisors together, Stevenson said another gathering of the group is unlikely.

As for Monday’s meeting, Stevenson said there was a good discussion, although he declined to elaborate, citing “attorney-client privilege.”

The strategy session took place in closed session, which was allowable under Missouri Sunshine Law since litigation was to be a strategy presented.

The closed session started off with both the advisors and HBPW staff members in attendance. However, at some point during the closed-door session even the “staff got booted out,” advised Stevenson.

Monday’s meeting had been in the works since the April 4 passage of Proposition 1, which gave the HBPW 90 days to discontinue the use of chloramines and implement a new process that produces results acceptable to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because the time frame to convert to a new treatment process is estimated to be “four to five years,” Stevenson says the HBPW’s “staff is unsure how to do that while still remaining compliant with EPA and MoDNR regulations.”

During the open portion of Monday’s meeting an engineering services contract with Black and Veatch (B&V) Engineers was approved. The agreement covers the water plant improvements that will be necessary as a result of Proposition 1’s passage.

B&V representatives on hand Monday were invited to stay and participate in the strategy session.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com