The City of Hannibal is looking to land a big economic “fish” at its riverfront. 

The Hannibal City Council has approved sending a Letter of Intent to Viking River Cruises granting exclusive docking privileges as part of the future riverfront development process.

Viking River Cruises had requested a firm commitment by May 1. City Manager Jeff LaGarce says with only one passenger port, the city lacked the physical ability to firmly make a commitment. However, the cruise line agreed to accept a good-faith Letter of Intent. The letter states the city intends to move forward with plans to provide docking infrastructure for the cruise line, contingent upon Army Corps of Engineers approval.

LaGarce says ships could start docking in Hannibal by 2018. By 2020, cruise ships would be making over 100 stops in Hannibal, bringing an extra 38,000 visitors to town each year. LaGarce says that is the equivalent of 770 fully loaded tour buses.

The cost to provide the docking infrastructure is not currently known.

In other business, tax and budget issues comprised much of the council agenda Tuesday evening.

Two Bills received First Readings as a result of recent voter approval of Propositions 1 and 2. The Bills ensure the City can continue collecting local sales taxes on vehicles and other major items purchased outside Missouri.

The upcoming retirement of City Collector Phyllis Nelson brings restructuring to that department—Debbie White will assume the new role of Office Manager. White is currently Accounts, Records, and Payroll Fiscal Assistant II. New responsibilities will be added including Accounts Payable and Self-Insurance claims. White’s annual salary will increase $2400 to $32,500. City Manager Jeff LaGarce says the realignment will result in a salary and benefit savings of around $50,000 annually. Nelson’s retirement is effective April 30.

Nelson had some budget housekeeping to wrap up before her retirement. She received council approval to write-off delinquent city personal taxes of just over $28,000 for the year 2011. Nelson said state law prohibits legal action against personal property taxes more than 3 years past due. Nelson anticipates the write-off amount to be less in the future since the county now collects property taxes on behalf of the city. Approval was also given to make end-of-the year revenue and expenditure adjustments to the 2014-15 budget.

The Council approved a schedule for the 2016 budget. The budget is to be submitted May 5.  A Budget Workshop is scheduled for May 20, with a Public Hearing preceding the first reading of the Budget Bill in June. The Final Reading is scheduled June 16.

The council also approved:

  • A beer and wine bar to be set up near the Mark Twain Brewery during the Twain on Main Festival in downtown Hannibal May 23-24.
  • Street closures and consumption of alcohol for the Down by the River Events sponsored by the Y Men’s club on May 8, June 12, July 19 and August 14.
  • Street closures and alcohol consumption during Mud Volleyball at the riverfront July 1-6.