Tonight, the Neosho City Council will hold a public hearing regarding the adoption of the city's budget for fiscal year 2014 and will take their first vote on the proposed $16.3 million budget.

The council meets at 7 p.m. at city hall council chambers, 203 E. Main Street.

The public hearing is scheduled as the first item under new business for the evening, at which time members of the public will be allowed to voice their opinion on the proposed budget.

Council members began their review of the budget in late July, with their first of four budget work sessions.
The end result of those work sessions leaves the council with $10.6 million in expenditures budgeted from the general government funds, which includes the funding of police, fire, city administration, streets and parks and recreation, among other accounts.

The budget plans for $9.8 million in revenues for the general government fund, with $3.4 million in proposed other sources and $3.5 million in proposed other uses.

The budget also includes $4.9 million in expenditures for the water/wastewater fund, which is separate from the general government fund.

The water/wastewater account is expected to take in $4.5 million in revenues, with $382,285 coming from other sources, and $302,790 proposed for other uses.

The final separate budget, that reflecting the employee insurance fund, has a proposed $806,000 in expenditures, with $853,652 in expected contributions.

Council members will vote on the budget under first reading this evening, with a final vote scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 17.
If approved, the budget will go into effect at the beginning of the city's new fiscal year, Oct. 1.
In the Aug. 13 budget work session, after completing their initial budget review, council members requested that City Manager Troy Royer and the city's department directors find areas that could be cut from the proposed budget.
After being presented with cuts to the draft budget in the following work session, the council agreed to move forward with the budget draft.
Councilman Charles Collinsworth said he was pleased with the proposed budget.
"I challenged you guys last week to make precise, smart cuts and I think you guys have done that," Collinsworth said, addressing the city's department heads. "I know the cuts hurt, but you guys are doing a great job for our city. I'm tickled to death that in reality this is going to be an almost even budget, I can live with that. I feel like it might be ridiculous to try to cut even more."
However, Councilman David Ruth said he plans to vote against the budget, due to his opposition to the city's property tax.
Ruth also voted against the city's property tax rate, which was reduced by 5 percent in a special session meeting Aug. 27.
Ruth said his opposition to the tax, and therefore to the budget, stems from his time serving on the city council in the 1990s.
Ruth said in 1997, voters were asked to approve a 3/8-cent tax for parks and drainage, and were told in return that the property tax would be rolled back.
That tax was set at zero from then until 2010, when overspending from a previous city administration resulted in a financial crisis for the city.
Council then voted in August 2010 to bring back the tax.
"I will never vote for any budget or for any property tax because I gave my word, as did the city of Neosho give their word to the taxpayers, that we would not levy a property tax in exchange for that 3/8 cent sales tax," Ruth said.
The proposed budget estimates $400,000 in revenue from the city's property tax in the coming year.

In other business:

• Council members are expected to consider, on first reading, repealing the city ordinance setting a code of ethics for the city council. According to information in the council packet, "Concerns have been expressed by certain council members that said code of ethics and ethics board are no longer needed."

According to the same information, the city council voted in July 2010, upon the recommendation of the state's attorney general, to adopt Ordinance 435-2010, enacting a code of ethics for officials and creating an ethics board to review allegations of ethics violations.

• Council will consider a bid of $8,932 from NewCo Service for a zero turn radius mower for public works.

• Council will consider, on first reading, a transfer of $45,865 from the drainage fund to the parks fund to cover costs associated with the restoration of the Big Spring Park staircase.

• Council members will mull a written request submitted by Greg and Pam Gibson, owners of the property at 505 E. Spring Street, where Rainbow Park is located, that the city abandon their right-of-way that runs through that property.

• Council will consider an agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation regarding funding for another step in the airport lighting project. According to information in the council packet, now that the Runway End Identifier Lights system and the Precision Approach Path Indicator System has been installed, the FAA requires that calibration of these systems take place. The cost to the city is $15,855.48, with MoDOT reimbursing Neosho for 90 percent of that cost. Council will take a final vote on the agreement, however, their vote on the budget amendment covering the additional cost will be taken up under first reading.

• Council will also consider on first reading adjusting the budget to reflect the actual revenues, expenditures and transfers between funds from Celebrate Neosho. Expenditures for the event came in $6,745 over budget, however, revenues from the event were also more than expected, at $6,968.

• Council will consider two change orders regarding the water system improvement project. The first, a $37,141.59 addition to the contract covers the quantity changes, including the costs of pavement repair, regarding the downtown water mains. The second, a total $94,406.37 would cover an additional exhaust duct and HVAC unit to address the high service pump station control room overheating, as part of the improvements at the water plant. After the two change orders, there would be $158,002 left in contingency.

• Council will consider issuing a letter of support regarding a walking/driving trail that the Carver Birthplace Association is seeking funding to establish. This would require no monetary contribution from the city.
n Council members will consider renewing an agreement with the Joplin Humane Society, for animals found in Neosho city limits. Animals are currently taken to the Carthage Humane Society, with the Joplin organization serving as backup for the city if Carthage is unavailable.

• Council members are set to consider approval of an agreement with Precision Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, who council previously selected as the city's primary contractor for HVAC services. Council will also consider approval of an agreement with S&S Maintenance, who the city already selected as their secondary contractor for HVAC services.

• Council will consider an agreement with Zimmer Radio Group for $500, for advertising of the city's upcoming Fall Festival, set for Oct. 5.

• Council will announce vacancies that exist on the airport industrial board; the board of adjustments (zoning); the economic development sales tax committee; the enhanced enterprise board; the parks, recreation and golf course board; the planning and zoning commission; and the TIF commission. Letters of interest will be considered at the Sept. 17 council meeting. If interested in serving on one of these boards, contact city clerk Nora Houdyshell at 451-8050.