Hannibal Public School District’s ballot proposition related to separate tax levy for Innovation Campus, not $3.3 million deficit

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The Hannibal Innovation Campus is an 88,000-square-foot building at 4417 McMasters in Hannibal, which once housed Sutherlands, and was purchased by the Hannibal Public School District in June for $1.9 million. It was paid for through state allocation funds approved by the Missouri Legislature. An additional $4 million was obtained in federal USDA funds.  Photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. – The Hannibal Public School District will ask district voters to decide on the April 2 ballot if they can borrow $30 million to construct, equip and furnish the Hannibal Innovation Campus.

The vote will be decided just after a $3.3 million deficit was recently reported in the school district’s 2023-24 budget. The school district reported the shortfall as the result of less than expected revenue against higher than expected expenditures.

You can read in-depth about the Hannibal Public School District deficit and look at their 2023-24 budget here.

“School districts have two levies; the operating levy which is challenging due to receiving less revenues than anticipated and expenditures greater than anticipated and a debt service levy which is totally separate since the funds from that levy can only be used for paying interest and principal for district debt,” said Hannibal School Superintendent Susan Johnson. “Therefore, Proposition Innovation is asking the voters to consider granting permission for the district to borrow $30 million to pay for capital projects, i.e. Hannibal Innovation Campus, renovation of the Middle School and High School Auditoriums, making the bleachers, restrooms and concessions areas at Porter Stadium ADA accessible, and prepaying lease certificates of participation which frees up operating funds.  The debt service levy will remain unchanged at $1.12.”

Johnson said the $30 million will not increase taxes nor raise the amount of the payment they already make but will instead lengthen the time the district is indebted for the loan. 

Johnson wanted the community to know that if voters give them permission to borrow the $30 million, it does not change their debt service levy. If approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the school district will remain unchanged at $1.12 per $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property.

The district bought the 88,000-square-foot building at 4417 McMasters, which once housed Sutherlands, last June for $1.9 million. It was paid for through state allocation funds approved by the Missouri Legislature. An additional $4 million was obtained in federal USDA funds. 

The Innovation Campus will service Hannibal High School students as well as students from six other districts — Marion County, Mark Twain, Monroe City, Palmyra, Canton and Highland.

Programs that would move from the Hannibal Career and Technical Center to the Innovation Campus are welding, machine and tool, automotive technology, cosmetology and an expansion of the health services and health sciences programs. School officials also plan to introduce culinary arts, hospitality and tourism programs. 

The Innovation Campus will partner with area colleges to provide adult programs for higher education and training.

“We need to finish what we have already started at the Hannibal Innovation Campus. I believe we need the things that we’re doing and I believe the staff and a lot of our community feel very supportive of that,” Johnson said. “I am so grateful for that.”

Projects that will be funded by Prop Innovation (courtesy of the Hannibal Public School District):

  • Drive innovation for the community
    • Through the construction of the Hannibal Innovation Campus and expansion of the Hannibal Career and Technical Education Center.
  • Provide opportunities for students through fine arts and athletic upgrades
    • Through renovation of the Hannibal Middle School and Hannibal High School auditoriums.
    • Upgrading Porter Stadium concession stand, restrooms, and bleachers for ADA compliance.
  • Protect the community’s investment in its facilities
    • Prepay existing lease financing.
    • Complete other repairs and improvements of existing facilities of the District.

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