Public meeting about Hannibal stormwater on Thursday to answer questions about April 2 tax measure

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Darrin Gordon, general manager of the Hannibal Board of Public Works, holds a picture of failing stormwater system underneath the Hannibal Police Department during the November 24, 2023 Hannibal City Council meeting. Muddy River News File photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — A public meeting regarding the April 2 ballot measure “Proposition S” will be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the at the American Legion Hall, 3819 Hwy MM in Hannibal.

Larry Craig, treasurer of the Concerned Citizens for Stormwater Campaign Committee (SWAC), said the meeting will allow voters to receive detailed information regarding the proposition and get their questions answered.

If passed, the proposition will provide a dedicated funding source to evaluate, replace and maintain the current system which is more than 120-years old.

Craig said finding a solution for Hannibal’s stormwater system is a matter of safety.

Craig said with a faulty drainage system, the water collects on the roads and erosion begins. The Board of Public Works has reported repairing numerous places of collapse in roads, including an area Union Street were a 16-year-old girl was injured by the stormwater collapse in 2001.

Recently, a large hole in the Hannibal Police Department parking lot gave them a spot to see into the system. The look inside provided a glimpse of what the century-old system looks like, and brought more concern with crumbling arches.

Muddy River File photo provided by Hannibal Board of Public Works

The Hannibal Board of Public Works has been working on the underground storm water system since the Hannibal City Council passed a resolution in 2017 directing the HBPW to implement a stormwater utility and comprehensive stormwater repair program.

Due to the Hancock amendment that was passed in 1980, stormwater funding must come from a fund specifically designated for stormwater. 

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled stormwater fees cannot be placed on a utility bill because stormwater cannot be metered. The HBPW can only place fees on what can be metered.

Sales tax also is not an option. The half-cent sales tax the city is allowed to impose is tapped out with Parks and Recreation and infrastructure funding. A property tax also is not recommended by the consulted attorney.

Craig said the assessment will be based on the electric meter or meters on any parcel of land in the City of Hannibal. He said the method was chose from several options discussed because they felt it was the most equitable to all.

“There is a coarse correlation of electric meter class and electric usage to the number of vehicles being driven on the streets of Hannibal. A commercial meter with low usage is more likely to be a ‘Mom and Pop’ business with 4 parking spots for customers whereas a large commercial meter with large usage is more likely to be a big box store with 100 or more parking spots for customers,” Craig said.

Craig said previous methodologies based on gross acreage and impervious area left some property owners crushed by the proposed tax. SWAC concluded a flat rate would be fair for all, including those who are economically disadvantaged or senior citizens on a fixed income.

“(We) felt the most disadvantaged could still successfully manage a tax equivalent to $12 per month,” he said.

Craig said flat rate method also protects the large commercial and industrial users, which do not influence the addition of building or parking areas.

“The proposed flat rate has a reduced impact on the large commercial and industrial electric meter customers than the previously proposed impervious surface calculation method. The SWAC made this decision with the concern for impacting economic development negatively,” he said.

If passed on April 2, the tax will not be assessed until January 2025, and due December 2025. Craig said this will give time to all citizens to make decisions on their electric usage which affects their stormwater tax assessment.

Marion or Ralls will collect the tax and deliver it to the City of Hannibal. The City of Hannibal will then give 100 percent of the funds to HBPW for Stormwater services.

The following tax rates would apply; Hannibal citizens will be charged on their annual county tax bill.

Residential 

  • Small (0-715 KWH):  $12 per month / $144 annually 
  • Medium (716-1260 KWH): $16 per month / $192 annually 
  • Large (1261 KWH +):  $20 per month / $240 annually 

Commercial

  • 0-1015 KWH: $110 per month / $1,320 annually
  • 1016-6000 KWH: $150 per month / $1,800 annually 
  • 6001-21,600 KWH: $190 per month / $2,280 annually 
  • 21,600 KWH or greater: $230 per month / $2,760 annually  

Industrial

  • 0-720,000 KWH: $420 per month / $5,040 annually 
  • 720,001 KWH or greater: $570 per month /  $6,840 annually 

Non- Metered: 

  • $8 per month/ $96 annually

The stormwater committee is a group of 15 community members who worked together to determine a tax proposal to fund the stormwater drainage system in Hannibal.  The committee was formed in February 2023 to help find a funding solution for Hannibal’s more than 120-year-old storm water drainage and to make sure everyone in the community receives fair treatment.

The committee was formed in February 2023 as a result of a proposed tax, called Proposition S, the HBPW brought before the Hannibal City Council in January. The proposal was killed by the HBPW after discovering issues that would cause certain landowners to pay exorbitant amounts based on their acreage.

Another version of Proposition S failed by 12 votes in 2019.

Craig said there is no way to create the perfect stormwater tax but the SWAC worked to protect all customer classes, regardless of economic status.

“We must be able to safely travel our roads throughout the city, to our schools, stores, and hospitals,” he said. “The goal is to create a stormwater system that will provide and maintain safe roads to drive, bike and walk on.”

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