PALMYRA, Mo. -- Storm water issues have been on the minds of Palmyra residents for several years, and voters' approval of a 1/4-cent sales tax increase in April 2019 opened the door for the first phase of improvements throughout the city.
The city is now working with representatives from the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments to apply for a Community Development Block Grant of up to $500,000 for replacing bridges and culverts through town. Mayor Loren Graham said the grant requires matching funds from the sales tax measure -- which began coming into the capital improvement fund at the beginning of 2020. The city began assessing the storm water issues with Klingner and Associates, who performed preliminary engineering work and drew up a city-wide plan to address more than 30 areas related to storm water management in 2018.
A pair of 1/4-cent sales tax proposals were not approved in the April 2018 election -- one was set to increase the capital improvement tax from 1/4-cent to 1/2-cent and the other was a separate 1/4-cent transportation sales tax increase.
City officials and representatives from Klingner held a series of town halls so residents could point out areas of concern and look at the plans in the Sesquicentennial Building. The project estimate of about $3.5 million could be brought down to $2.5 to $2.7 million if city employees performed some of the work. Graham said in 2018 many of the supporters of the storm water plan likely turned out to vote for the first capital improvement proposal, which missed approval by five votes.
Palmyra voters approved one ballot measure in April 2019 -- to increase the capital improvement tax from 1/4-cent to 1/2-cent. Now city officials are preparing for a project to replace four or five bridges and culverts -- some bridges are one-lane and deteriorating, and new culverts will better handle storm water.
Graham said City Council members submitted requests for qualifications and received responses from five or six engineering firms for the project. The council chose Klingner and Associates to perform engineering for the work.
"They did the initial study and everything else, and they did the preliminary engineering already on it, so we thought it was natural to use them," Graham said.
Graham said he's hopeful the city receives the grant for the project. The next step will involve prioritizing areas from the storm water plan to address next as money accumulates. Graham estimated the sales tax increase will bring between about $100,000 and $110,000 to the capital improvement fund each year.