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by Mark Cheffey
The Palmyra City Council is considering placing two issues on the April 4 municipal election ballot.
If given final approval at the next meeting, Jan. 5, the ballot issues would seek voter approval of $15 million no-tax bond issue to fund major water and sewer projects, and set a three-cent sales tax on the sale of legal recreational marijuana within the city limits.
Specifically, the bond issue, which was recommended for placing on the ballot by the Board of Public Works, will fund a major upgrade to the city’s sewage treatment plant as well as updates to the city’s water treatment and distribution system.
In outlining the proposal, Mark Bross of Klingner & Assocaties, LLC, who has been advising the city about water and sewer issues, said $11 million of the total is needed for the projects and the other $4 million would be used in the future, especially if costs for the projects goes up before they are completed.
“These things are not going to happen this year,” Bross said.
While the bond issue will not require a tax, Bross said the city will use the state’s revolving loan program to take advantage of its relatively low interest rate.
However, he noted the city would pay back the interest by raising water and sewer rates over the 20-year payback period.
“You will still be at the lower end compared to everybody in the area,” Bros said of the rates.
Bross indicated the BPW is currently undergoing a rate study to make sure revenues are meeting expenses.
Bross said the water and sewer plants and infrastructure are 40 to 50 years older or older in some cases. And, while some updating has been done, they are in need of major updating to meet current and future standards.
It was also noted by Bross the current sewage treatment plant is at about 85 percent capacity, and that more capacity is needed, but said the project would not include expansion at this time.
He said work to improve sewer lines is expected to increase plant capacity by eliminating much of the influx of storm water into the sewage treatment facility, giving the city more time before having to pay for a major expansion.
In offering the marijuana sales tax ordinance to the council, City Attorney James Lemon, said the recently passed constitutional amendment allowing recreational marijuana use in Missouri also allows cities and counties to institute, with voter approval, sales taxes assessed to the sale of legal marijuana.
“It will help the general revenue fund,” Lemons said of the proposed tax.
The council voted unanimously to officially approve their 2023 health insurance plan with MIRMA as well as the three-month runout costs with the current carrier.
After reviewing qualifications and proposals sought by the city, the council unanimously selected Klingner & Associates to serve as city engineer for projects.
The council unanimously approved a revised and final version of a Community Development Block Grant application for a storm water drainage project funding.
Members also gave final approval for revisions of ordinances that refer to the Palmyra Fire Department since it is no longer part of the city.
Mayor Rusty Adrian announced the end of further efforts at this time in support of a proposed Bailey/Stanley street storm water drainage project.
Adrian said the project is being held up by two property owners who are unwilling to sign easements needed for the project.
“Until we can get the easements signed, we are going to halt this project,” Adrian said. “The city has done all we can.”
Council member Andrew Salsman, who chairs the Street & Alley Committee, reported the committee recently met to continue discussion revising downtown parking spots.
Street Commissioner Austen Dornberger said one of the changes under serious consideration was prohibiting parking on corners along Main Street due to the fact that city ordinance prohibits parking within 20 feet of the corner.
Current parking spaces allow for parking closer to the corner. However, it was noted the spots were contributing to lower visibility for motorists wishing to cross or turn on to Main Street.
Salsman also noted discussion of limiting some parking along some of the city’s narrow streets to help with snow removal.