Public Hearing Sparks Debate in Hannibal
A former mayor accuses the City of Hannibal of violating payroll ordinances.
John Lyng addressed the city council Tuesday evening during a Public Hearing. Lyng maintains the city is required by charter to staff the position of City Engineer. The City eliminated the position in 2014, saving around $95,000 a year in salary costs.
Lyng says an in-house engineer could reduce the costs of capital projects such as street improvements, storm water management, and water purification. He cited the example of extending Edgewood Drive during the 1980’s to better manage traffic near the new YMCA. Lyng said the project was efficiently completed for around $130,000 with in-house engineering.
City Manager Jeff LaGarce refuted Lyng’s assertions. LaGarce said engineering fees have no correlation with bids from contractors. He also said using an outside engineering firm does comply with city charter, and is a common practice of many municipalities. LaGarce said citing an example from the 1980’s has little bearing on projects in 2017.
The focus of the Public Hearing was the city's new $30 million budget for fiscal 2017-18. After John Lyng spoke, Rev. John Paul Tomko took to the podium. He opposes spending $600,000 to relocate the Convention and Visitor's Bureau to a new location near Highway 36. Tomko said the current facility on 3rd Street is adequate and the money should be spent on law enforcement and infrastructure.
Besides the Convention and Visitors Bureau expenditure, the new budget includes:
- $3.5 Million for street resurfacing and another $3.5 M for riverfront renovation.
- $940,000 for the Shinn Lane Roundabout.
- $300,000 for the Grand Avenue Wall.
- Funding for renovation of the light house on Cardiff Hill.
- Performance raises for city employees totaling 3.1%. That includes 2% for moving to the next step plus a 1.1% cost of living raise.
Highlights of the regular council meeting following the Public Hearing:
- The 2017-18 budget and payroll bills received a 1st Reading.
- The council authorized the Board of Public Works to implement a stormwater repair program. The cost of rebuilding the aging system has been estimated at more than $30 million. Methods of funding are still being researched.
- A change order approved means the city will pay an additional $87,000 to Bleigh Construction for the recently completed Warren Barrett Bridge project. The additional money is for extra pilings for the foundation, additional roadway pavement for badly deteriorating pavement near the bridge, and an incentive payment for early completion of the project.
- A Memorandum of Understanding is approved regarding an easement to the West Ely Road Park. The easement runs through the property of Lawrence and Cathy Pickett. The Picketts wish to sell their home, but feel the easement is an impediment to a prospective buyer. The park was constructed in the 1970's with grant money that stipulated the easement be retained. The MOU states the easement can only be used by pedestrians and Parks and Rec equipment for maintenance of the park.
- George Lee has purchased the long-vacant Union Street Express property. The city portion of back taxes on the property totals $1100. Lee requested the city waive the $1100 owed. City Manager Jeff LaGarce says this would be illegal. However, the council approved an agreement to contribute $1100 toward any public portion of project renovation. That could include parking lot renovation, demolition, etc. Lee has no plans to start a new business. He plans to repair the building and lease it.
- When construction of the Shinn Lane Roundabout begins soon, the main entrance to Hannibal Regional Hospital will be closed. A temporary entrance will be constructed. HRH employees will be asked to use Forest Drive. The council approved a request to establish a 4-way stop at the intersection of Forest and Medical Drive due to the anticipated increase in traffic.