Amendment 4 Deals With Financing of Stormwater Control Projects

The Missouri Storm Water Control Amendment is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment that, if passed, will amend the Missouri Constitution to change the provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects. It will appear on the general election ballot November 4, 2008.

Official Ballot Title:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects by:

-limiting availability of grants and loans to public water and sewer districts only;
-removing the cap on available funding and existing restrictions on disbursements;
-requiring loan repayments to be used only for stormwater control projects?

It is estimated the cost to state governmental entities is $0 to $236,000 annually. It is estimated state governmental entities will save approximately $7,500 for each bond issuance. It is estimated local governmental entities participating in this program may experience savings, however the amount is unknown.

Fair ballot language excerpt:
A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to change the provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects. Currently, the Missouri Constitution allows the legislature to issue bonds or other types of debt so that grants and loans may be provided to municipalities and water and sewer districts in certain counties and cities for stormwater control.

This amendment will limit funding to only public water and sewer districts. It removes the current limitation on the amount of funds that can be made available for these projects and removes the restrictions on the method of disbursing these funds. It further provides that loan repayment funds shall be deposited into a specific fund to be used for stormwater control projects.

A “no” vote will not change the provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects.

If passed, this measure will not have an impact on taxes.

To view the full text of the amendment, visit the Missouri Secretary of State’s ballot measures explanation page by clicking here.

In addition to changes to the constitutional language, parallel changes to the state statutes governing the storm water grant and loan program at 644.570 RSMo will be put into effect if the constitutional language is changed in November 2008. Also, the sale of storm water control bonds to fund storm water projects in first class counties could resume.

Background: Missouri voters approved $200 million in state storm water bonds in November 1998. The bonds are administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and are used for storm water planning and/or construction projects in first class counties and the city of St. Louis (MSD). The bond funds are used by participants for loans that cover up to 100% of the project cost or as a 50% match grant.

To date, $45 million of the $200 million in authorized bonds have been sold. The last bond sale was in 2002. DNR has awarded all the bond proceeds sold thus far.

The storm water funds are allocated through a formula in the state constitution. The formula allocates the available funds based on the applicant’s population. There are currently seventeen first class counties: Boone, Buchanan, Callaway, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cass, Clay, Cole, Franklin, Greene, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Platte, St. Louis, St. Charles, and Taney.

Since the last bond sale in 2002, the Internal Revenue Service has enacted certain restrictions on tax exempt bond sales. The IRS requires that the tax exempt bonds be spent fully within three years of a sale. Because the existing storm water program cannot meet the IRS requirements, it is necessary to change the constitutional authorization language.