In the regular meeting of the Neosho City Council on Tuesday, council members approved two bills to raise both water and sewer rates, on the first reading.

In the regular meeting of the Neosho City Council on Tuesday, council members approved two bills to raise both water and sewer rates, on the first reading.  
The last increases were in 2009 and prior to that in 2001.  Public hearings were held for both increases but no citizens had anything to say.  Neosho resident Rhonda Marion did send a letter to council protesting the increases.
City Finance Director Daphne Pevahouse told the council that water and sewer departments both need additional revenues.
"We have seen the same electric, insurance and fuel increases just like everyone else," she said.
Mayor Ben Baker confirmed the need for the increases.
"We've only had two increases in 16 years. I've heard a lot of misconceptions that we are making a profit. That is not right.  To keep those services going, we need the money. W're not making a profit. We're not even breaking even."
Compared to cities of a similar size in the area, Pevahouse said that even with the rate increase, Neosho falls in the middle in comparison.
When asked what local residents can expect in the amount of an increase, Pevahouse said, "I took some examples of actual water bills. A one resident household will increase about $6.90 per month and a four resident household's bill will go up about $22.60 per month.  On a typical or average water bill currently about $65, the monthly price would go up approximately $20.”  
Sewer rates are expected to increase as well and Pevahouse said, "Sewer is going to be much higher than the water."
The council voted unanimously to approve both rate increases on the first reading.
Another bill was heard to require deposits for new water accounts with the city. In August of 2012, the previous code was amended to require deposits only for customers who had left a previous bill.
Pevahouse stated that in the last 13 months, a total of 367 customers have left unpaid balances.  The city now uses a collection agency to recoup some of the money owed but the agency also takes their fee from what is recovered.
The council approved reinstating customer deposits on first reading.  Deposits were suggested to be $50, with $15 of the deposit serving as the application fee and thus nonrefundable.
In other business, the council heard four proclamations.  The first honored the July Business/Employer of the Month, Free Market Physician.  Three flood proclamations were also issued by the mayor,  thanking and honoring Kevin Foote, Charla Geller, and Calvary Church of Neosho.  Each received a plaque from the mayor.
Jill Cornett of the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council presented the Neosho Comprehensive Plan for 2017.  She provided each councilmen with a revised copy of the plan.  Cornett told the council that this is not a legally binding document. It is designed to suggest how Neosho should move forward.  Since the last Comprehensive Plan in 2006, Neosho's population has increased from 10,500 in 2006 to 12,000 in 2014. The growth area for Neosho has increased from 40-45 square miles to 50-60 for the 2017 plan.  The council voted to approve the 2017 Neosho Comprehensive Plan on the first reading.
The council also approved rezoning requests on Hale Mc Ginty Drive, requested by the Neff Family Trust. Lots N and O were rezoned from R1 single family residential to C1 Commercial.  Lots K, L, and M were rezoned from R1 residential to R2 or multiple family residential.  Property located at 626 South Neosho Boulevard was rezoned from R1 to C3 as petitioned by Debbie Major.
Council members also voted to annex 14646 Kodiak Road, the site of the new Neosho Junior High School, into the city.  They also approved at a right of way utility easement for the school.
A motion to lease city property to Signature Granite and owner Shane Lake was approved. Councilman Jon Stephens was excused from the vote because he is employed by Lake.
An amendment to an electrical service agreement with Empire District Electric was also approved.
A letter from Bible Holiness Assembly of God was read, demonstrating their appreciation for city assistance during their recent youth camp by closing Morrow Avenue through Thrasher Street.