Water Issues Come to Hannibal City Council
The debate over Hannibal’s drinking water spilled over into city council chambers Tuesday.
Melissa Cogdal passionately addressed the council regarding use of chloramines to purify the city water supply. Cogdal was representing the Safe Drinking Water Committee. The group recently submitted a petition signed by 1235 citizens, calling for removal of chloramines in favor of safer disinfection alternatives.
City Clerk Angel Vance told the council the next step is to certify the signers of the petition are registered voters residing in the city limits. If the number of signatures falls below the minimum required, the committee will be given more time to gather additional signatures. Once enough valid signatures are submitted, the council will choose whether to bring the drinking water chemical reduction act to the floor for a vote. If the council chooses not to vote or votes down the proposed ordinance, the decision would then go to the voters.
Hannibal Board of Public Works General Manager Bob Stevenson discussed water issues from his perspective. He updated the council on water and sewer improvements and future electrical operations.
A written memo says the change to chloramines has evoked controversy from two groups: One is suing over previous methods of purification that resulted in disinfection byproducts exceeding EPA/DNR limits. The other group (represented by Melissa Cogdal ), seeks removal of chloramines as a disinfection method. Stevenson says both initiatives have the potential to dramatically drive up water rates.
Stevenson told the council the BPW will increase water rates 3.5% and sewer rates 4.5% to comply with funding reserve mandates required by the bond issue approved by voters in 2013.
Bob Stevenson painted a more optimistic picture of electricity rates. No increase is planned for the next fiscal year, and purchasing electricity from multiple suppliers in 2017 ( including the Prairie State Plant in Illinois), should bring reduced power costs.
In other business:
- The council tabled the appointing of a new 5th Ward Council member. The issue is scheduled to come back before the council July 5. Five people have submitted their names for consideration: Richard Garrett, Gordon Ipson, Wesley Krigbaum, John Tallman, and Colin Welch.
- Mayor James Hark praised the Hannibal Fire Department by issuing a proclamation recognizing their service to the City for 170 years.
- Melonie McAfee of 2 Rivers Industries spoke to the council regarding the $1.90 recycling fee.currently being charged monthly to Hannibal BPW customers. It expires in January 2017. The council agreed to draft an ordinance that would let the voters decide the issue in November. McAfee told the council the recycling operation relies heavily on the fee and the amount of materials recycled continues to increase.
- A Budget Amendment is approved appropriating $370,000 more to the Employee Benefit Trust Fund. City Manager Jeff LaGarce says the money is needed to pay for higher health care claims experienced recently.
- Gail Bryant of the Hannibal Convention and Visitor's Bureau received approval to place media ad buys for 2016-17 and accept a matching grant of $70,000 from the Mo. Dept. of Tourism for advertising in the leisure travel markets.
Second and Final Readings were given to:
- Two Bills regarding the right to counsel in municipal court, and authorizing contributions to the defender fund.
- An ordinance clarifying the use of service animals in public places.
- An ordinance approving the 2016-17 fiscal year budget and also a 2016-17 payroll bill.
- A Bill reaffirming procedures involving potential conflicts of interest for certain city employees.
- Three Bills involving property issues: one approves the annexation of BPW property located at 6673 County Road 437. One approves a request by Russell Goodhart to annex property on Stardust Drive, and the final bill allows the city to vacate a portion of an alley in Hubbard's addition, at the request of Bill Schneider.
Councilmen Knickerbocker and Locke were not present Tuesday night.