HBPW Board to be asked to approve storm-water budget, five-year plan

For the past month the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) has been immersed in the process of creating a new utility from scratch. The progress made thus far in accomplishing that formidable task will be outlined to the HBPW Board during its Tuesday, July 25, meeting that is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. in the HBPW’s conference room, 3 Industrial Loop Dr.

Making the creation of a storm-water utility more of a challenge is the fact “there is very little precedent around the state,” according to Bob Stevenson, general manager of the HBPW.

“Columbia, Springfield, and Moberly are slightly ahead of us in developing storm-water utilities,” he said in a memo. “We are in contact with them and evaluating their decisions and activities for application in Hannibal.”

A storm-water utility would help maintain Hannibal’s rapidly deteriorating storm-water system, which is different than the sanitary sewer (wastewater) system.

Slated to be submitted to the HBPW Board for approval is an operating budget, which Stevenson readily acknowledges is speculative.

“This proposed budget is mostly a shot in the dark since we have no track record to review or compare to. I expect the expense categories to change somewhat in future years and the revenue categories may change as well,” he said, pointing out that while expenses will start immediately, revenue from new rates will not begin until the last quarter of the year.

Also up for Board consideration will be a five-year plan that has been developed.

“Again, this is only a shot in the dark until such time as the engineering studies indicated in the operating budget begin to bear fruit,” said Stevenson in his memo.

During the first couple of years the plan takes aim at what the HBPW’s GM describes as “softer targets” which include engineering, planning and easement acquisition.

The objectives will toughen up as time passes.

“The harder targets of equipment acquisition, construction contracting and staffing come later after we have a better understanding of where we should be placing our efforts and investments,” said Stevenson.

To help cover the preliminary costs of the fledgling utility, which thus far has no source of revenue, Stevenson is proposing a $1 million loan agreement between the HBPW’s Electric Fund and Storm-Water Fund.

“This note at 2 percent interest is designed so the first five years will be repaid at interest only amounts then principal repayment will begin in year six. Since this is the only source of funds for the first six to nine months it is possible a second loan may be necessary,” said Stevenson.

Finally, an engineering services agreement with Poepping, Stone, Bach & Associates, Inc., (PSBA) will be proposed. Its tasks will be to work on compliance tasks related to the existing MS4 Permit held by the city, but which will eventually be transferred to the HBPW.

Under a MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems) Permit a Missouri city is responsible for complying with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) guidelines that pertain to storm-water systems owned or operated by a city. MS4 communities like Hannibal are required to draft a storm-water management program plan and submit it to the state.

“The last MS4 Permit issued (Hannibal) in 2013 had a list of tasks mandated by DNR to be accomplished during the permit period which expires sometime in 2018. None of those tasks have been accomplished to date and some probably will not be accomplished by the deadlines, but we are going to begin by hiring help from PSBA,” said Stevenson.

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