Hannibal looking at tax for stormwater system

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HANNIBAL — A proposed property tax increase may be on the April ballot for Hannibal voters to decide on funding for a permanent stormwater system.

Darrin Gordon, general manager of Hannibal Board of Public Works, asked Hannibal City Council members on Tuesday to place the proposed tax, Proposition S, on the ballot, which he said will address a dire need for a stormwater system in Hannibal.

The proposed annual cost of stormwater projects and construction, Gordon reported, would be $567.15 per acre. He said the average homeowner who has about .22 acres will see an increase of $124.55 per year. This will exclude nonprofits.

Gordon highlighted Hannibal’s need by presenting a picture of Grand Avenue in July showing a vehicle trying to drive “against the tide” of around eight inches of rushing water from a storm. 

“The water is entirely through the middle of the intersection and it’s flowing even more,” he said.

He said footage of the situation shows a nearby grate where he was able to see that the water was bouncing up and over the grate rather than going down into it. Gordon said one of the problems is that the system has not been cleaned out. 

Gordon also noted other instances where the HBPW has seen where water has caused serious, and dangerous, road damage.  

Gordon said the HBPW has been working on the underground storm water system since it was established in 2017, while the City Public Works maintains above ground projects such as curbs, roads and gutters.

He also said that due to the Hancock amendment that was passed in 1980, stormwater funding must come from a fund specifically designated for stormwater. They do not have such a fund at this time.

“That means I can take electric funds and pay for electric things. I can take sewer funds and pay for sewer things. If I do not have a stormwater fund, I cannot do stormwater things. And since that time, there’s been little done for the stormwater systems,” he said.

Gordon said in 2017 they commissioned a study of Hannibal’s stormwater needs and returned in 2019, and at that time the proposed tax went on the ballot and lost by 12 votes. 

For the proposal of Proposition S, HBPW refreshed the numbers to determine the need. 

“I bring all of this up to say that we aren’t just reaching for a number out of the air, they have looked at a five-year plan and a 10-year plan,” he said. “We plan on taking at least 10 years to get things moving.”

Gordon also brought up MS4, a government regulation related to water quality, which is a federal and state law they have to comply with. 

“In other words, we can’t have so much oil, grease, nitrogen and phosphorus going from our roads into the Bear Creek, into the Mississippi, and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. 

He said the Dept. of Justice is starting to go after communities that are not able to create that funding source. 

“I am telling you that to scare you but it should, and hopefully the citizens hear that as well,” he said. “We are doing the best we can but that is a concern.”

Gordon stressed the importance of educating the community on these issues. 

“The best bet to get information out there is that if there are community groups that are interested in going around to service clubs or into neighborhoods and letting people know, that’s the best thing you can do,” he said.

Also discussed at the Hannibal City Council meeting as a possible April ballot issue was a vote allowing a citywide sales tax on recreational adult-use marijuana.

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