Hannibal City Council hears first reading of operating budget

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Mo. State Rep. Louis Riggs addresses the Hannibal City Council and asks for support for a U.S. 61 bypass of the city.

by Jim Dewey

HANNIBAL – The Hannibal City Council gave first reading city’s operating budget during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Hannibal City Council.

Director of Finance Karen Burditt said the General Fund is $13,054,739 and the citywide budget with operating expenses and capital expenses is $25,489,731.

The Covid crisis did not affect Hannibal’s last budget as much as city officials first expected, but Burditt said the budget is still conservative. The budget does include several capital projects and expenditures that had been delayed because of the economic slowdown. Burditt said Hannibal was able to maintain its sales tax revenue despite the slowdown.

Council also heard from State Representative Louis Riggs who gave them an update on the proposed Hannibal Bypass. Riggs reminded council members that the 1,300 mile route from the Gulf of Mexico to Duluth, Minnesota includes just seven stoplights that are all in Hannibal.

Riggs asked council members to write a letter of support for an engineering study for the proposed bypass. The last study was performed in 1996.

Riggs said Northeast Missouri is not a part of the statewide conversation about distribution and logistics centers which he said would bring a minimum of 400 to 500 jobs each to the region because there is no interstate access. He called the seven stoplights in Hannibal a choke point and noted that some 4,200 loaded trucks roll through Hannibal every day.

Riggs has been working with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) to make the bypass a higher priority. He said passage of the gas tax will help move the project from tier 2 to tier 1 on MODOT’s list of priorities. Several area communities have shown support for the study but so far, Hannibal has not.

The motion to have Mayor James Hark write a letter of support for the engineering study failed on a 3 to 3 vote with 6th ward council member Jeff Veach absent. Hark’s was one of the no votes. The issue will likely come up again when all council members are present. 

Council also approved a resolution that is one step in the creation of a  Downtown Community Improvement District. The resolution will allow the city to contract for legal services.

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