After sending $85,000 already on demolitions, City Council approves over $39,000 more

Karen Burditt doesn’t operate a building-razing piece of equipment for the city of Hannibal. However, the city’s finance director’s ability to scrape together some additional cash means that the municipality won’t have to wait until July 1 when the next fiscal year starts to bring down more derelict residences.

As of the April 3 meeting of the city’s Building Commission, all $85,000 designated for building demolitions this fiscal year had been spent, according to Joey Burnham, building inspector.

At that meeting the pending demolition list featured 28 properties. Another five properties — 2209 Gordon, 1912 Settles, 2007 Hope, 1112 Ely and 806 Bird — are scheduled for public hearings at the Monday, May 1, Building Commission meeting and will in all likelihood be added to the demolition list.

Speaking to the Building Commission last month, City Manager Jeff LaGarce proposed a supplement to the demolition budget of between $20,000 and $25,000, saying that amount “would not be a major game changer.”

“That will give some flexibility and make the (demolition) list lighter,” he said, estimating that amount would cover the cost of five or six structures.

Melissa Cogdal, a member of the City Council and Building Commission, expressed support for the higher supplement amount.

Mayor James Hark, who is chairman of the Building Commission, called funds set aside for demolitions an “investment in the community.”

At the April 18 City Council meeting, Burditt sought and received permission for a demolition supplemental appropriation of $39,400.

“That is because we’ve used up all of our money we had appropriated for that with the P.R.I.D.E. Program,” she said, referring to a neighborhood revitalization program that was launched last year on the city’s South Side. “We would like to do seven more houses before the end of this fiscal year. We don’t want to wait for the next fiscal year because it would put a strain on our next budget.”

This marks the second consecutive year in which the demolition fund has needed an influx of cash to make it through the budget year. Last May an additional $20,000 was approved.

Taking a big bite out of last year’s $60,000 demolition budget was the $29,400 it cost the city to pay for the removal of 1233 Market St., which sustained major structural damage in a fire on Dec. 24, 2015.

According to Burnham, driving up the cost of demolitions are the fees associated with asbestos testing and proper abatement, as required by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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