The Neosho City Council met in closed session Tuesday evening despite the initial opposition of two councilmen who said they were not aware of a legal reason for the council to meet behind closed doors.

However, following the closed session, Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson, who had voted in opposition to the closed meeting, said after learning more about the topic while in closed, he now believes the closed door meeting was legitimate.

The more than hour-long closed session was held down the street from council chambers, at the Neosho Civic Center, a change from the council's usual practice of meeting in the city hall conference room.

Davidson, who with Councilman Charles Collinsworth opposed the council's move to go into closed session, said before the closed meeting that details were vague on what he believed would be discussion on a proposed project.

"How am I supposed to vote to go into closed if I don't know what we're going into closed for?" Davidson asked.

Councilmen Tom Workman, Steve Hart and David Ruth voted in favor of moving the meeting into closed session.

Hart told the Daily News he would have a comment on the closed session meeting today, and declined to comment yet on Tuesday evening.

City Manager Troy Royer added the closed session to the agenda at someone else's request, Davidson said.

The council agenda listed three subsections of Missouri Sunshine Law RSMo 610.021 as causes for the closure.

The agenda cited subsection 1, which concerns legal issues, subsection 2, which concerns real estate, and subsection 12, which covers sealed bids and related documents, sealed proposals and related documents, or any documents related to a negotiated contract until a contract is executed or rejected.

Davidson said, when voting against the closed session, that he was debating the process, not the project. He also reminded council that they are limited as to what they can and cannot do in closed session.

However, after the meeting, Davidson said he now feels comfortable with the closed discussion as a real estate issue.
"After the discussion was held I have all the confidence in the world that the discussions related to real estate were legitimate," Davidson said. "I do not believe it was necessary to close under the other two, and had there been better communication from the people attending and the city as to what was ultimately being requested, all of that would have been avoided."

When voting against a closed session meeting, council members are asked to provide a reason for their opposition.

When casting his 'no' vote Collinsworth said he simply did not have enough information.

"I honestly don't know why we're going into closed," Collinsworth said.

After Tuesday's closed meeting, Davidson said that he believes the council will continue talks relating to the topic that was discussed.

He said two votes were also taken in the closed session meeting, though those votes cannot be disclosed yet.
Davidson said the council also voted to allow some guests into the closed meeting, though only the few who directly related to the transaction were allowed access.

Read more on Tuesday's city council meeting in Thursday's Neosho Daily News.