Hannibal City Council sets deadline to decide fate of Old St. Elizabeth’s hospital; Proposition S approved for April ballot

Darrell McCoy

Councilman Darrell McCoy Muddy River News File Photo

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Hannibal City Council set a deadline to make a firm decision on what to do with the old St. Elizabeth’s hospital.

At the regular meeting on Tuesday night, council approved a self-imposed deadline. If they do not have a developer with secured financing by July 1, they will have plans ready to tear the building down.

The deadline was set as “fluid” to make sure they leave room for last-minute developers and they can weigh public opinions after they hold several public meetings after the holidays.

The deadline was approved 4 to 2. Yes votes were Stephen Franke, Mike Dobson, Nathan Munger, and Hannibal Mayor Barry Louderman. No votes were Darrell McCoy and Colin Welch.

The motion was made by Franke. 

He mentioned that city staff should immediately begin researching to secure a funding mechanism to tear the building down, so they can hit the ground running if it goes that way. 

He also suggested the council nail down a plan for what to do with the site after it’s torn down before they tear it down. He said it’s important to be proactive for those who live near the old hospital.

“We don’t want a blighted property to turn into a blighted lot,” Franke said. “That’s not fair to them, we have punished them through negligence for long enough.”

Hannibal Mayor Barry Louderman agreed that a deadline would be a good idea and that making plans for residents should be a priority. Louderman challenged the council to put together public hearings on the topic after the first of the year. 

Louderman reminded council members that it will take about $6 million to tear the building down.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Dobson said a lot of what Franke and Louderman suggested is already in motion, and they are waiting until the holidays are over.

Dobson said Lisa Peck, city manager, told him in a recent conversation that she was planning to put together public meetings to address St. Elizabeth’s. Dobson said he, Peck and the Central Services Director Andy Dorian had set a self-imposed deadline for the end of this year.

“If you remember we passed an infrastructure tax this past year for five years and I feel like we have held Andy (Dorian) up on some street projects because we didn’t know how we were going to move forward with the old hospital, and we were holding money back for that. I feel like we probably already have those funds there, but I would rather see it developed than before it was demolished,” he said. 

Dobson said he lives just up the street from there and has been involved with it for a long time; he traveled to Kirksville, Mo. and Jefferson City and attended many meetings regarding the project. 

Council member Darrell McCoy said he doesn’t disagree with Franke and since he doesn’t represent that ward, he has not spoken to residents around that area.

“But it directly affects every citizen in every ward because we don’t have the money to pay for it. And as we all know $6 million went to a marina at the riverfront. You are talking about a significant amount of money,” McCoy said.

McCoy proposed they set a self-imposed date but not set the date until after they hold the public meetings.

Franke explained he believed if they set a date that night it would light a fire under them. He made a motion to set a deadline for July 1, if there is no developer with secured financing to be ready to tear the building down. 

McCoy asked what would happen if a developer came forward with funding that could not be secured until after the July 1 deadline. 

“Let’s hold some public hearings and see what they want—who we represent—before we commit the entire city to this process,” he said.

After the vote, Dobson said he voted in favor of the deadline because it was a fluid date.

McCoy said he appreciated the council’s attention to St. Elizabeth’s, and he agreed with the sentiment of what they were doing.

“I am all for a self-deadline, but I just want the people to speak first,” McCoy commented after the vote. “That’s why I voted the way I did.”

The council also approved a municipal election on April 2 to allow Hannibal voters to decide on stormwater tax, or Proposition S.

The tax would be a flat fee per parcel of land, with the amount of the fee based on the electric meter size and usage for commercial, residential and industrial properties.

The proposed flat fee for residential electric meters would be:

  • $12 to $20 per month for properties with residential electric meters. 
  • $110 to $230 per month for properties with commercial electric meters.
  • $420 to $570 per month for properties with industrial electric meters.
  • $8 per month for non-metered properties.

Nonprofits would not be taxed, eliminating charges to entities such as schools and churches.

The amount due would be determined by average annual monthly kilowatt hour usage.

If passed, electric usage would not be recorded until after July 2024, and taxes wouldn’t begin until 2025. The first payment would be due in January 2026.

The ballot measure passed five to one. The nay vote was by Franke.

Larry Craig, campaign treasurer for the Storm Water Action Committee, said they “look forward to educating the voting public of Hannibal on the need for a funding mechanism to maintain, improve, and to upgrade as appropriate for the storm water system that has no funding mechanism for it to get done.” 

Craig said they hope the citizens of Hannibal will support the proposal on April 2. He also said the proposal before the voters is what the majority of the committee feels is the most fair.

“There are varying opinions on whether or not it’s fair to all property owners, but the majority of the committee felt it was,” he said. “The majority of the committee felt it was the most fair mechanism to establish funding to solve this problem.” 

In other business:

Minutes were approved from the closed sessions for Oct. 3, Oct. 17, Nov. 7 and Nov. 21. Minutes were also approved for the regular meeting on Nov. 21.

The city approved the purchase of property located at 712 Grace to Fresh Start Restoration in the amount of $750.

A temporary use agreement was granted to Great River Bank to access property along Diamond Blvd. to utilize the City of Hannibal right of way for an upcoming project.

Council authorized the Mayor Barry Louderman to sign documents awarding a grant to the Hannibal Fire Department with $17,399.85 to purchase three battery powered ventilation fans. 

City Collector Phyllis Nelson reported 55 delinquent Hannibal business licenses with fees  of $40 each totaling $4,020. Council members authorized Nelson to send notices informing businesses that if their accounts are not paid in 30 days, they will be shut down by the city.

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