(Hannibal, Mo)--A proposal establishing fines for false and nuisance fire alarms moved forward at the Hannibal City Council meeting Tuesday night. Fire Chief Bill Madore spoke to the Council regarding the goal of reducing false alarms, which occur approximately 100 to 150 times per year. Council gave first reading to a bill amending fire codes relative to false alarms, and approved an ordinance establishing a schedule of fines.

The 2014 budget bill received a first reading after council heard from Finance Director Doug Warren, who said the budget is about 2 million dollars less than 2013.  Warren says the budget "lives within its means while having no reduction in city services".  He said the smaller budget is due in part to 1.8 million dollars of flood buyout money in the last budget that won't be in FY 2014, and major street projects underwritten by two bond issues are nearing an end. Declining sales tax revenues are also a factor. Warren said some equipment expenditures such as replacement of police cruisers have been put on hold.  Due to attrition, the city has not replaced 5 staff positions.

One new item in the budget is the Catastrophe Fund.  It is intended to keep the city running during a period of declared emergency.  It will be created with a transfer from the General Fund of $107,000 in the new fiscal year.

Another issue related to emergency operations received approval as well--City Manager Jeff LaGarce successfully made the case that even during times of emergency such as the recent storms, City Charter does not allow for waiver of the bidding process for emergency services and repairs.  Council approved a waiver during such events.

Council approved emergency demolition of a building at 213 Broadway, pending receipt of the structural engineering report.  City Manager Jeff LaGarce said part of the building has begun to collapse, but the city may choose to remove only the dangerous portion since a lawsuit is pending against the owner.

The council decided to pass on an offer to acquire property located at 100 Bird Street, near Lula Belle's, after the City Manager told the council no departments within the city had expressed interest in it.

City Manager Jeff LaGarce told the council two Hannibal Police officers each received a letter of appreciation from citizens:  Sgt. Michael Routh and Officer Eric Sargent were cited for their exemplary and professional conduct while responding to separate incidents.

In other business, the Council tabled a recommendation to sell city-owned property on Front Street (Y Mens' Pavillion) back to the YMCA, after City Attorney James Lemon said more research is needed before drawing up a contract.

Parks and Rec Director Andy Dorian told the council Riverview Park remains closed to the public due to numerous trees down.  He also said a dangerous situation exists on the River Road Trail--two landslides have made that area off limits to the public as well.

An ordinance establishing an commercial lease agreement between the City and Faye Dent and the Marion County Historical Society was given a 1st reading.  The lease involves property known as the Welchman House located at 509 3rd Street.  The organization proposes to use the building for an African American History Museum.

Gail Bryant of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau received approval to move the central location for the Great Race participants to Central Park.  The move is due to construction and storm damage in the original designated area along Main Street.

The Street Department received approval for annual construction material bids, and Darrell's Lawn Care was awarded a bid for mowing the Old Baptist Cemetery.