HANNIBAL — A joint meeting between the Hannibal City Council and Hannibal Board of Public Works Board Tuesday evening at city hall produced no concrete decisions regarding how best to fund storm-water projects within the community.
“It was mostly just discussion items tonight,” said Mayor James Hark following the almost two-hour meeting. “We received a lot of information from the HBPW and they received some from us.
“We are just wanting to do what we feel is going to be in the best interest of the community and is going to give them the best value for their dollar because let’s face it we are all on fixed incomes. No one in Hannibal that I am aware of has a big bucket of cash just laying around. We are sensitive to those people who are already struggling to make ends meet. We don’t want to make it worse.”
Hark was not disappointed that more progress was not made during the meeting.
“It would be irresponsible and shortsighted of us to make a knee-jerk reaction to something this large and of this magnitude that will affect every single resident of the city,” he said.
Among the funding options under consideration is a fee and a tax. The fee would be based on a property’s impervious surface. As for the tax it will likely involve raising the city’s sales tax. Such a proposal was rejected by a margin of 12 votes earlier this summer.
“We haven’t decided which one (funding option) is best yet,” Hark said.
Also proposed was tying a funding mechanism to a sunset clause which would cease collecting revenue after a certain number of years.
“With a sunset on it if we don’t do well they (voters) can take it away (by not re-approving it in the future),” Hark said.
There is also support for not just using funds solely for storm-water projects, but also for the repair of alleys and streets. Hark acknowledged that unlike the city’s storm-water utility, which does not currently have a funding source, there is a tax in place to generate revenue for the repair of streets and alleys.
“There is a half cent sales tax for street improvements, but it is woefully inadequate to do alleys and all the streets as well. When it was passed it wasn’t enough,” the mayor said. “We use a lot of our street funds to repair storm water failures. When a street falls in (because of a storm-water problem) we have to fix the street which takes away from where it (street tax revenue) could have went for alleys.”
According to Hark, another joint meeting will likely occur before the end of October. He realizes that decisions will need to be made in order to put a proposal in front of voters next April. Hark understands that the city will need to address its storm-water shortcomings before action is required.
“We are acutely aware that in the future there are going to be federal and state mandates on storm-water collection systems and the longer it is put off the more it is going to cost us,” he said. “We would be doing the public a terrible disservice by not being forward thinking in this town.”