Well, it's Friday again and they're already putting out the back to school items at Wal-Mart so you know what that means right? Summer is coming to a close. The older I get the faster time seems to fly by!

Well, it’s Friday again and they’re already putting out the back to school items at Wal-Mart so you know what that means right? Summer is coming to a close. The older I get the faster time seems to fly by!
On Monday, we started the annual budget sessions in the council chambers. The annual budget is one of the most important processes for the city to execute with excellence. I want to give you a little insight into this process and how it works. The budget is critical because if it is not thought through carefully and followed vigilantly, then the city cannot provide the services and protections that are our responsibility to the citizens. I am thankful that our finance department is very thorough and very watchful over the monies we receive from tax paying citizens. Frugality and accountability are key in making every dollar count. Our annual budget total is somewhere around 16 million dollars for Neosho. That amount will cover every department and service that we offer in our town.
The process of the yearly budget begins in each department. So, the head of every department will put together a budget and submit it to the finance department and city manager. Capital improvements are sometimes requested by each department. An example of a capital improvement in the police department this year would be to continue to phase out two more of the old patrol cars and replace with new ones. That is a request put on the submitted budget for the council to look at and either modify, accept or decline.
In the budget sessions, we will go through every department and their submitted budget and discuss. Sometimes council will see a need to modify or may have an idea to be a better steward of the money, and sometimes the budget will satisfy and we will accept the submittal as is. The budget process is slow and painstaking but it is essential in making sure that we protect the taxpayer funds and look out for their interests.
I can assure you that just from the first of several budget sessions we will have in the month of August, the council is very cautious and careful to watch how we are spending city funds. I believe that because of the collective financial prudence offered by council we will begin to see a trend of being able to make capital improvements to our city by a slightly larger amount every year.
With the rise of internet shopping and changing buying tendencies among consumers, we have new challenges to face, especially in a city of our size. I cannot stress enough the importance of shopping local because it truly is an investment in our town. We are excited about the growth we are seeing in Neosho and want to continue to see our community improve.
Once the budget is carefully scrutinized in our budget meetings, then a final submittal with all the changes will be brought to council in an open meeting and council will vote to approve the budget for the next fiscal year.
I hope this has clarified the budget process in a little more detail. If you have any questions, feel free to attend the budget sessions or shoot me an email. Until next time, stay awesome Neosho!

Ben Baker is the mayor of Neosho and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.