Tax bill on former healthcare site topped $50,000

The city of Hannibal has paid the more than $50,000 in back taxes owed for the former St. Elizabeth Hospital.

According to a memo from the Hannibal City Manager Jeff LaGarce to Marion County Collector Harry Graves, the $50,115.94 tax bill was paid Aug. 10, well in advance of Marion County's tax-forfeiture auction which is scheduled for Aug. 27.

According to LaGarce, the city made the payment to protect the proposed multi-million dollar investment that the developers, Hill Tide Partners and the Belmont Development Group, have proposed making at the Virginia Street site. The future of the 54-unit senior housing project hinges upon the developers receiving a tax credit award from the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC).

"The city cannot allow some third party to purchase the old hospital's back tax liability, and thus the property, thereby rendering the $10 million redevelopment project moot," LaGarce said. "While the likelihood of that occurring is minimal, the magnitude of this occurring would be colossal."

The MHDC was scheduled to meet on June 14 and announce which projects would receive tax credits. However, the meeting was canceled following the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens. It was tentatively rescheduled for late July but did not occur in part due to the lawsuit filed by the Missouri Democratic Party against the appointment of Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor by Gov. Mike Parson.

"Whether Gov. Parson has the authority to appoint Kehoe is unknown, but we do know this created more MHDC delays," LaGarce said.

The governor and lieutenant governor are both voting members of the MHDC.

The next MHDC meeting is tentatively set for September, according to LaGarce.

Based on an agreement struck in May between the city of Hannibal and Marion County Commission regarding the taxes owed on the former hospital by its previous owner, Steve Owsley, the city is eligible for a tax reimbursement of $3,008.21.

The commissioners did not vote to approve the reimbursement Monday morning during their meeting at the county courthouse in Palmyra, agreeing they had approved the action in May.