As the past President of HBPW it is important for this community to have another discussion about Hannibal’s water before we spend $14.6 million on a new system that may not eliminate undesirable chemicals, will certainly hurt those that can least afford it, and will absolutely jeopardize current and future jobs in Hannibal.

In 2016, citizens circulated a petition to remove ammonia from the drinking water. The petitioners promised it could be done for a dollar a month for each residential customer. That was never possible.

In April 4, 2017, Voters approved Proposition 1 requiring the HBPW to remove the ammonia from the drinking water within 90 days. And in 2017, it became Ordinance 4751. The HBPW was directed to make the change. However there were problems with the legality of the Ordinance and the HBPW sued the City Council on several counts to avoid being forced to disobey state regulations. The three main issues were:

1: The Ordinance and State Environmental Statutes

The Ordinance is directly contrary to the statutes of the State of Missouri in that the use of ammonia to form chloramine as a secondary disinfectant is prescribed, ordered and/or recommended by the MDNR

2: The Ordinance is not a Legislative Act

Public drinking water purification decisions have been delegated by the Missouri legislature, not to the local voters, but to the HBPW as the State’s designated agent for local implementation of Missouri’s policy on safe drinking water.

3: The Ordinance and Capital Programs of the City and the City Budget

Pursuant to Section 18:01 of the City Charter, the voters did not possess the power or authority to propose the Ordinance by petition initiative because the ordinance involved the appropriation of money by the City.

The HBPW was never against the project, but the HBPW must follow State law. Counts 1 and 2 were settled to follow the will of the voters and to give the HBPW time to accurately come up with the true cost.

The City Manager, the City Council and the HBPW are caught in the middle of this complicated situation. And we citizens need to speak up before we spend any more money on engineering studies and a new plant. We need a new vote based on accurate project cost and actual rate increases. Such voter information is required by law. The HBPW must also have a vote to get the best financing rates on bonds. The ratepayers need to know exactly what it will cost them. The City Council could choose to skirt around the law by leasing at an extra cost to the ratepayers but that could risk another lawsuit.

Some will argue that we already voted and that “the will” of the people has spoken. I remind them that this town voted three times on Riverboat gambling and three times to vote the levee in. And how many times have we voted on recycling? Let Hannibal move forward, with a full debate and an informed vote.

— Randy Park, Hannibal

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