Funds to be used to pay for city's stormwater repairs

Hannibal residents will likely be asked in April to approve the implementation of a fee that would fund the city's stormwater utility. The Hannibal City Council gave first reading Wednesday night to an ordinance that would put such a proposal on the April 2 municipal ballot.

If Proposition S receives a successful second reading by the council during its Tuesday, Jan. 15, meeting, voters would be asked to approve a fee schedule. The funds generated by the fee would be used to "acquire, construct, maintain and improve the city's stormwater conveyance system."

The city council passed a resolution June 2017 authorizing the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) to implement a stormwater utility and comprehensive stormwater repair program.

While tasked with addressing the city's growing number of stormwater issues, the HBPW has not had a designated source of revenue with which to pay for stormwater repairs, some of which are estimated will cost millions of dollars.

Some money was borrowed from the HBPW's electric fund to undertake some emergency stormwater repairs. Since that money will have to be repaid, HBPW officials continued to deliberate on finding a steady stream of revenue for the stormwater utility.

While the HBPW could implement a fee after a judge ruled in a Missouri case that a stormwater fee was unconstitutional because it was not first approved by voters through a ballot issue, Heath Hall, general manager of the HBPW, said that it was decided that the "cleanest and safest way" to generate funds for Hannibal's stormwater utility was to seek voter approval.

If approved, the fee schedule will take into account the amount of impervious area contained in a parcel of land.

"It provides an equitable sharing of the fee," said Matt Munzlinger, HBPW utility and planning engineer, during Wednesday's city council meeting. "If a property has no impervious area, the fee would be minimal compared to somebody that has maybe a large parking lot or a large building area in relation to their actual parcel size."

According to a memo written by Hall to the council, if the April ballot measure does not pass, the HBPW would only address the city's worst stormwater problems that warrant immediate action.