City to move ahead with drainage project

by Mark Cheffey

The city of Palmyra agreed to move ahead with a joint project with the county to fix a storm water drainage issue at the courthouse following action taken by the city council last Thursday.

The council voted 5-0 to approve an engineering contract for the project of which the estimated $60,000 cost is to be split between the city and county.

In other business, the council agreed to a new, extended contract with a company that leases space on the communications tower located at the city water plant.

The council is contracting with Klingner & Associates, P.C. in Quincy, to engineer the storm drainage project for $9,500.

The Marion County Commission recently sought help from the city to correct a drainage problem on the south side of the courthouse, where water drains out of an alley onto Lafayette St.

During heavy rains, the water pools along the north curb, resulting in damage to the pavement and curb while causing inconvenience to those parking at the courthouse.

The project would include sub-surface drainage to take the water west and north away from the street.

Mayor Loren Graham went to the county commission meeting Monday, March 1, at which time the county and city verbally agreed to a 50-50 split of the project’s cost.

During council discussion of the project, the mayor asked City Attorney James Lemon if a formal, written contract with the county would be necessary.

Lemons said, while he prefers to have a contract, a verbal agreement between the county and city might be good enough knowing they have worked together successfully on past projects.

Graham said an agreement which is reflected in both the county and city meeting minutes should be good enough.

Lemons recommended the council approve the new tower lease contract with ATC Ponderosa K LLC/American Tower, and members voted to by a 5-0 vote.

Lemons said the contract, which resulted from considerable back-and-forth negotiation, was more favorable to the city.

“I thought they worked with us fairly well, once we got them to talk to us,” Lemons said.

Under the conditions of the new contract, the company will pay a lump some of $25,000 up for an extension through September 2051 along with monthly lease payments of $750.

However, that monthly payment is expected to change due to the inclusion of an escalator based on the consumer price index that requires review every five years.

If the index goes up, so does the payment, up to 25 percent. 

The council discussed but tabled action on a proposed contract with the Hannibal Career and Technical Center to allow the police department to utilize the center’s driving and shooting range simulators for training.

Police Chief Eddie Bogue said the city’s liability insurance carrier, MIRMA, has urged his department to take the training offered on a regular basis, but has been “skating by” without it until now.

Action on the contract was tabled until Lemons could get clarification on some of the contract wording.

Council member Pam Behring, who  chairs the Finance Committee said the Parks & Recreation Budget, which was to be approved during the park board’s March 15 meeting, is all that’s needed for the overall city budget to be finalized.

Behring also noted the city received a 100 percent rating following MIRMA’s annual inspection.

BPW Superintendent Brent Abell reported the board approved raising the fixed sewer rate by $3 for residential, commercial and industrial customers. 

Council member Ellen Goodwin, who chairs the Ordinance Committee, said work continues with Chuck Anderson, the city’s new code enforcer and building inspector, on some proposed changes to ordinances.

Street Commissioner Austin Dornberger said his crews have been busy cleaning city streets.

Bogue said his department’s officer recruitment efforts are going slowly and noted an overall drop in numbers of people looking for law enforcement jobs.

He also said his department cannot compete for available candidates who are drawn by higher pay elsewhere.

Lemons reported continued progress in catching up on municipal court cases which are now handled through the circuit court.

“We’re going to get caught up, but it’s going to take a while,” Lemons said.