Hannibal stormwater tax proposal will not be on the April ballot

Darrin Gordon, Director of the Hannibal Board of Public Works, withdrew his request at the Hannibal City Council Meeting on Tuesday that the stormwater tax proposal go on the April ballot.

Hannibal Board of Public Works Director Darrin Gordon addresses the Hannibal City Council Tuesday night. — Photo: Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — The proposed tax to fund a permanent stormwater system for the city of Hannibal was temporarily killed at the Hannibal City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

The proposed tax, or Proposition S, was withdrawn by Hannibal Board of Public Works Director Darrin Gordon before council members could decide if it would be on the April ballot for Hannibal voters. 

Many of those seated behind Gordon in the council chambers were there to express their opposition to the tax due to the high cost it would burden on various groups of landowners. Their perspectives, and others, is part of what brought him to request Proposition S be pulled from the council’s consideration. 

Although he said it does not change the need for the stormwater system but the current proposal falls short.

“I will tell you we went simplified and when you do that sometimes things fall through the cracks and that’s exactly what we have found,” he said. “Many of you have had calls and will hear from five people in the community that this is the not the right way to go and I will echo that is absolutely right.”

Gordon brought forward a request to withdraw the proposition that was approved earlier in the day by the Hannibal Board of Public Works board. 

He specifically mentioned that the tax proposal put those in agricultural zoning at risk, who have a hundred acres of farmland, the assessment would have cost them $56,000 annually. 

“That would absolutely crush them and we aren’t going to do that,” said Gordon. “I cannot stand by and have anyone do that.”

Gordon stressed that they still need the funding but they want to make the proposal a collaborative effort with the public, as some who opposed the bill mentioned there was not enough public involvement. 

He plans to put together a committee of about a dozen Hannibal residents who represent different perspectives such as commercial, agricultural, and residential.  

Speakers who stood up at the meeting also spoke at the Hannibal Board of Public Works meeting only a few hours earlier. Each party opposed the tax from a different perspective and they have all agreed to be part of the public group.

Jim Mulhern, one of the speakers, has been working on houses and developments for 40 years. He was thankful that Gordon is willing to form a commission of regular citizens to discuss the stormwater situation, which he agreed is a big problem.

“We know that because when we did our subdivision a couple of years ago, we spent more than $100,000 for stormwater,” he said. “That said, we didn’t feel like it was fair for us on unapproved lots to have to pay again when there is already stormwater in place. There is of holes in what is being proposed.”

John Lyng, former Hannibal mayor, said that he looks forward to participating in the group as well. Part of the information he will be seeking is whether the tax is necessary. He would like to see the survey of the underground stormwater facilities and infrastructures in Hannibal, or the executive summary of it along with a list of specific projects that the funding will be used for.

Robert Chriscinske came in from a neighborhood property owners’ point of view.

Chriscinske said he was very surprised when he read in a newspaper article that the tax would be more than $500 per acre. He owns 1.2 acres of land in Oakridge and the tax would have increased his taxes by 163 percent.

“That was a shocker to me,” he said. 

Chriscinske, a former council member and former general manager of the Board of Public Works, said the challenge reminded him of trying to fund the flood wall in 1992, which was a challenge.

“This is a very serious challenge to the city and the board to arrive to some kind of working solution,” he said.

Gordon looks forward to forming the public group and said that citizens who are interested in participating should email him at generalmanager@hannibalbpw.org.

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