The planned focus of a Neosho town hall meeting Thursday will include an update on the city’s water system improvement project and a quick overview of next fiscal year’s adopted budget, says the city’s mayor.

The planned focus of a Neosho town hall meeting Thursday will include an update on the city’s water system improvement project and a quick overview of next fiscal year’s adopted budget, says the city’s mayor.

That’s in addition to anything else anyone wants to talk about.

The public meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Lampo Community Center, 500 E. Spring St.
Mayor Richard Davidson said by phone Tuesday that he planned to give an update on the ongoing water line replacements and renovations at the water treatment plant included as part of the voter-approved $9.5 million water system improvement project. Funded in the short term by a low-interest loan from a state revolving fund, the entire project is scheduled for completion by January.

The 2012-2013 fiscal year begins Monday. Budget highlights to be presented at Thursday’s town hall meeting will include departmental updates, revenue expectations and future debt service, among other bullet points. The 2013 budget provides for hiring two more police officers and purchase of two new patrol cars, purchase of a new pumper fire truck to replace the 1979 model, and varied pay raises for city employees based on their positions. The budget also provides a financial plan for retaining the nine firefighters currently subsidized by a federal grant, after the two-year grant expires in May. 

Also, the city’s projected increase in revenue next fiscal year is based on the budget projections that were made for this year, not actual income, which was considerably higher, Davidson noted. Neosho enjoyed a double-digit increase in sales tax revenues for much of this past fiscal year, and finished out well ahead of budgeted expectations. Still, the city is being conservative in its income estimates for next year, Davidson said.

“You’re going to see that revenue expectations for 2013 are down a little bit from actual 2012 revenue, but above 2012 projections,” he said. “We had the big increase the first six months of 2012, which was related to the Joplin tornado. We don’t expect that big increase is going to happen again next year.”

Another bullet point that will be touched on Thursday, according to Davidson, is the final outcome of  addressing issues that were flagged in the July 2011 state audit, and how the state audit team’s recommendations have been implemented to date.

Davidson said he hasn’t received any citizen feedback since last Thursday’s public meeting regarding the ongoing parks evaluation study (see Sunday, Sept. 23 Daily News), but said he intends to report that that the parks needs assessment has begun and that public input is being sought. The study, once completed, will serve as the nucleus of a quasi comprehensive parks plan.

Davidson also said he expects there may be some questions from the audience about the ongoing legal issues between the city and the Neosho Transportation Development District, as well as the city’s proposal of a Community Improvement District to possibly replace the TDD, should the latter dissolve. He said he has a summary ready.

“I don’t know how in-depth I’ll go about the TDD, but if the question comes up I will be prepared to talk about it,” Davidson said.

The Neosho town hall meetings have been held more or less quarterly since the summer of 2010, when Davidson began hosting informational sessions about a one-cent city property tax that was being proposed at the time, mostly to retain emergency services personnel. After the tax failed at the ballot box, Davidson still continued with the town hall meetings.

“I think it is especially important for people to come to these meetings given the financial situation the city was in three or four years ago,” Davidson said. “It’s a time for the elected officials that the citizens have chosen to show the people how their tax money is going to be spent and provide them the documentation and the detail of how their monies are going to benefit public safety, going to benefit them when it comes to services, and give them the reassurance that their city council is on top of the finance component of city government and that oversight is in place.”