Well it appears that our cooler-than-normal summer is finally over. The Weather Channel shows highs nearing 100F into the middle of next week. Hot and dry weather in August? Welcome to Missouri!

Well it appears that our cooler-than-normal summer is finally over. The Weather Channel shows highs nearing 100F into the middle of next week. Hot and dry weather in August? Welcome to Missouri!

Like the heat of August or the cold of January, there are a number of things I’ve learned to expect and tolerate in my life in Neosho. And as I grow older (and older), my patience for things has also increased. Being in elected office has thickened my skin a bit and made me more adept at listening and understanding a variety of perspectives. That’s not to say things don’t bother me, but when you understand the politics (and more importantly the people behind them), that can reduce my stress level a bit. Yell at me – fine. Curse at me – fine. Disagree with me – fine. It comes with the job.

As we wrapped up another smooth budget session this week, it reminded me of how different things are today vs. just a few years ago. Our finances are significantly better and real oversight is in place. We’ve refinanced debt responsibly saving taxpayers in our town hundreds of thousands of dollars – all without extending the length of the repayments. FY2015 will be the LAST year for paying back the monies that were misappropriated by a former administration. We have invested in our public safety staff and infrastructure to keep Neosho safe. We have 90-day cash reserves in the bank. Employees even comment about morale being higher than it has been in a very long time. Bottom line - your city today is nothing like the city we had five years ago – and I’m PROUD of that.

The credit for our ongoing recovery goes to a number of people. The council made some difficult decisions, but we then pushed the execution to city staff. Our city employees and staff worked through difficult times and stuck with us. Our current city manager and his key directors were charged with an almost impossible task. And with hard work, teamwork, loyalty, dedication and a true commitment to make Neosho better, they delivered on their challenge. I appreciate Troy and the entire city staff for all they did and continue to do. You couldn’t ask for a better group of folks to work with.

Despite a smooth budget hearing, I was somewhat surprised by one comment on Tuesday night - a comment made by an elected official currently serving on the Neosho city council. It wasn’t directed at me but rather at city manager Royer and his directors. It was a comment made in front of the public and reported by the press. The comment was this: “It sickens me to see the way this city has been run for the past two years, it sickens me.”

Had the comment come in 2009, I would understand it. At that time, the city’s day-to-day business wasn’t transparent. Employee morale was suffering. The financial controls and oversight expected and necessary for taxpayer funds was far from adequate. Some projects weren’t completed and some that were had significant cost overruns. Loans for one project were used to pay for others. It was a mess.  

So why would someone make that comment now – in 2014 – after all that has changed? I have my ideas, and comments like that don’t often happen by accident! It was certainly disappointing to me and many others to hear and/or read that statement knowing how far we’ve come.

Regardless of words to the contrary, the recovery we’ve made since 2009 shows the “medicine” we chose worked. I can’t count the number of times people “outside” of Neosho (who have watched our turnaround from afar) have complimented the city council and our staff for their great work and dedication. For those that are now sickened by how this city has recovered, I truly wonder what outcome they were hoping for. For me, I’m proud of what we’ve done and pleased with how Troy and all of our city employees do their job every day. They make me proud to call Neosho home!

I hope you have a great Friday and a safe and enjoyable weekend. I learned from my dad yesterday that my oldest daughter has expressed an “interest” in running for an office in the seventh grade student council election. While she hasn’t shared that with me yet, it did make me smile.  She’s becoming more like her dad every day.

As always – until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, and may God bless Neosho!

Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.