City of Licking seeks bonds approvals for water infrastructure improvements

This City map shows water mains to be replaced in green or red and a proposed new well and tower just west of Hickory Manor, with new water mains there in blue. The inset section is south of the school. Full resolution map available at

By Shari Harris,

  The City of Licking needs an estimated $3,800,000 to pay for badly needed water infrastructure improvements. In order to pay for these improvements, the City is asking voters to approve both a general obligation bond and a revenue bond in the April election. If both bonds are approved, the City would qualify for substantial grant funding. If the two issues are not approved, the City will be faced with financing the full cost of the necessary improvements.
  Two community meetings are scheduled to be held. The first meeting will be on March 5 at 6 p.m. at Fox Fire Station. The second will be at the Senior Center, March 28 at 6 p.m.
  Necessary improvements include replacing the old cast iron and transite waterlines that were installed from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, with new PVC waterlines; replacing the old elevated water towers with one new elevated water tower with an overflow elevation that matches the prison tower; creating a new water well to provide the City a backup should the City’s largest well go out of service; and obtaining trailer-mounted emergency generators to provide for emergency backup should a power outage occur at any of the wells.
  Passage of the $2,350,000 General Obligation bond (property tax) issue requires 57.1% approval of the voters in the city. Only the amount needed for the project improvements would be borrowed. The tax levy increase to pay off the bonds would be approximately $1.31/$100 of a land owner’s assessed value. A home valued at $60,000 would have an annual tax increase of approximately $149.30 or less depending on the amount of grant dollars received.
  Passage of the Revenue bond issue requires a simple majority approval of the voters in the City. The Revenue bond will raise the monthly water bill by $7.11 for a 5,000 gallon per month user, depending on the amount of grant dollars received. The monthly revenue will generate $1,450,000 for the water infrastructure improvements. Both bond issues are for 20-year terms.
  If the bond issues pass, the City would be eligible for USDA and CDBG grant funding for the project. The City is seeking $1,160,000 in grant funding, which is over 30% of the total project cost. Another advantage of approving the two bond issues is that the City will be able to borrow money at government subsidized interest rates of approximately 3.5%.
  If the bond issues are not approved, the City would not be eligible for grants, and more costly options at market interest rates would be necessary. The monthly rate could easily be $49.00 or more per month.
  The existing water system infrastructure is aging and needs repair, rehabilitation, or replacement. Most of the cast iron and transite waterlines, storage water towers and wells were installed from 50 to 80 years ago. The infrastructure has greatly exceeded its life expectancy; the water lines are constricted because of years of tuberculation and corrosion and are losing their structural integrity. Numerous waterline breaks in the City cause disruptions in service every year and are increasing in number and severity as the age of the lines increase.
  The City does not have a well that provides enough water to keep up with demand should the largest well go out of service. The City does not have emergency generators to keep the water system viable should a power outage occur.
  The elevated School Tower was constructed in 1939 and has extensive repair and replacement needs to upgrade it to current Missouri DNR standards. The old TAG elevated tower was erected in 1962 and cannot be used in the municipal system because it is 109 feet too low in elevation. The old Plaza elevated tower was erected in 1967 and cannot be used in the municipal system because it is 104 feet too low. These lower tanks must be flushed and refilled on a regular basis to keep them operable, which is a constant cost to the City. These lower elevation towers only serve the building facilities adjacent to their location. All the steel tanks are in dire need of sand-blasting, part replacements, upgrades, repair, priming, and recoating.
  Improvements are needed to reduce the risk of a water infrastructure failure and ensure that City residents have access to safe, reliable, and high-quality drinking water. The question appears to be, how best to pay for these improvements.


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