By Pauline Masson

Pacific Editor

The city could form a neighborhood improvement district (NID) and issue special tax bills to pay for sewer improvements on Integram Drive if the property owners affected by the line are willing, according to City Attorney Bob Jones.

The city has been trying to determine how to fund replacing a sewer line beneath Integram Drive that connects to an open ditch that was the result of the former sinkhole. The line drains into Brush Creek.

The sinkhole opened on property owned by Clayton Corporation, a few feet from West Osage Street at Integram Drive, when a corrugated metal sewer line, installed in 1989, collapsed Sept. 9, 2016.

The hole spanned 50 by 70 feet and was 23 feet deep. Over the next weeks it would grow to a length of 300 feet and a depth of 30 feet.

The city excavated the collapsed area, removed damaged sewer pipe and cleared a path for stormwater to flow from the MoDOT box culvert beneath Route 66 to the city’s undamaged sewer line south of the collapsed area.

Since then, officials have worried that heavy truck traffic on Integram Drive will eventually crack the lines which run beneath the roadway, which would require that both the sewer line and the road be rebuilt.

Alderman Ed Gass said the NID seemed like the most logical way to complete a project that would benefit both the city and the industrial property owners along Integram Drive.

Speaking at the Sept. 3 board meeting, Gass said the city should consider creating an improvement district to clean out the sewer line and issue tax bills to the property owners to be paid over 10 years. He asked that the city attorney be directed to research the city’s finance options for the project.

Reporting Sept. 17, Jones said the most common public option would be to form a neighborhood improvement district (NID). The district could be formed either by election or by a petition of the property owners.

In order to be formed by an election, four-sevenths of the property owners would have to vote yes. If proposed with a petition, two-thirds of the property owners would have to sign the petition.

If a NID is approved, the city could issue bonds to pay for the work and set special assessments on the property to repay bonds or to repay the city general fund if general fund revenue was used for the project.