During the regular meeting of the Neosho City Council on Tuesday, the council held a public hearing for consideration of the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget for the City of Neosho. During the hearing, councilman Carmin Allen spoke up about his concerns about the cost of the cell phone allowance provided to city employees, one of the items noted in the proposed 2018 budget.

During the regular meeting of the Neosho City Council on Tuesday, the council held a public hearing for consideration of the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget for the City of Neosho. During the hearing, councilman Carmin Allen spoke up about his concerns about the cost of the cell phone allowance provided to city employees, one of the items noted in the proposed 2018 budget.

"I've got a question about the $30,000 a year (spent) on cell phone allowance," Allen said."There's three (employees) in there who don't need a cell phone. One says he doesn't need a cell phone and doesn't care. If you take those three out, that brings the cost down and saves $18,000. I know we're not buying cell phones, just reimbursing them."

Currently, 46 employees get a cell phone reimbursement. Allen thinks that number should drop by two, including Human Resources and the Finance Director, because he suggested they should be utilizing the phone system at city hall. Interim City Manager Dana Daniel told Allen, "When I'm contacting them, I'm using the cells."

A suggestion was made to approve the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget but to meet in the future regarding possible changes to the cell phone allowance. Mayor pro tempore Jon Stephens agreed. "I think we can have a meeting on this," he said.

"I told you I'd be looking for money," Allen stated. "The 12,000 people out there are our boss and I'm looking out for them."

The 2019 fiscal year budget will take effect n October 1, 2018 and end on September 1, 2019

Jon Stephens called the meeting to order, in the absence of Neosho Mayor Ben Baker at 7 p.m.

Chris Deitsch, pastor of Cross Church, Neosho, provided the opening prayer.

All council members with the exception of Baker were present.

The first order of business was approval of the agenda, consent agenda, and minutes from council sessions on August 21 and August 28.

In unfinished business, the council approved the repeal of the use tax ordinance that originally was scheduled to appear on the November ballot, the annexation of 1680 Ridgewood Road, the de-annexation of 12333 Nettle Drive, both by request of property owners, and the new fence code for the city.

Two thank you letters were received, one from the Neosho Newton County Library for assistance with a recent flag pole issue and from the Crowder College Aggies for the city's assistance in their recent annual rodeo.

In new business, a budget amendment to the 2018 city budget was also approved, as requested by City Finance Director Daphne Pevahouse. "We're in the last month of the year so we're seeing how our year is ending," she stated. "Some adjustments need to be made to clean-up the budget. Staff recommends approval of the budget amendment."

A state block grant applicable for the ongoing hanger at the Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport was also approved. "This is a continuation of the community grant for the hangar at the airport. They do require an ordinance and council vote," Daniel said.

The council approved the renewal of the Crowder College SRO (school resource officer) contract for two officers from the Neosho Police Department to be on site at Crowder College, Neosho, seven days a week. "This is our annual contract with Crowder College," Neosho Police Chief David Kennedy told the council. "Two officers is the only change."

Currently, one officer serves the Neosho main campus.

Kennedy also asked the council to approve the acceptance of two grants from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The grants will fund driving while intoxicated and hazardous moving violation enforcement. "This year, we were awarded $3700 for DWI and $6,000 for hazardous moving violations," Kennedy said. Council approved the grant.

Neosho Public Relations Director and Events Coordinator Paul Richardson appeared before council to provide an update on the annual Neosho Fall Festival. "I wanted to bring you up to speed on the Fall Festival," he said. "In the past, we've provided the inflatables for the kids (during the festival) for free. Last year we brought in laser tag. People came and stayed longer. That added to the attendance."

Richardson proposes bringing four inflatables and four mechanicals this year to the fall festival along with laser tag. Laser tag and the inflatables will remain free but tickets will be sold for the mechanical rides.

"We're looking to expand more for the kids and families," Richardson said. Council approved his request for a purchase order.

The Neosho City Council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, August 18 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Neosho City Hall, located on the southeast corner of the historic downtown Neosho Square.