The Neosho City Council will begin their annual budget process at 6 p.m. this evening, with a budget work session to be held at the Neosho Civic Center.

The Neosho City Council will begin their annual budget process at 6 p.m. this evening, with a budget work session to be held at the Neosho Civic Center.

The city is required to have a balanced budget in place by the beginning of their fiscal year, Oct. 1.

Troy Royer, Neosho City Manager, said he and the city's finance director, Daphne Pevahouse, have been working to complete a draft budget, which will be presented to the council tonight.

"The finance director and I have both gone through it with a pretty fine tooth comb and now we'll present it to council and get their input," Royer said. "We will go through every single fund of the budget, let them ask questions, we'll answer stuff, take any suggestions they have that they would like to see in the budget and get it all done and wrapped up by the end of August."

Royer said the city is taking a different approach to the budget this year, due to less than ideal sales tax revenues over the current year.

"When we budgeted last year we didn't anticipate much growth and it actually didn't occur so we have pretty much budgeted this year with no growth in revenue as far as sales tax," Royer said. "We're having to watch projects, look at it as a whole, and how each fund affects each other."

Royer said he and Pevahouse have met with the city's department directors, working to cut down on some items that could be held off until the next budget year.

Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said the city's cash reserves have grown significantly over the past few years.
"The city's in a decent position when it comes to cash reserves," Davidson said, noting that just a few years ago the city's reserves were depleted.

"It's no secret that the city has a few years of challenges ahead of us," Davidson said. "We've known going into this fiscal year that the debt is going to increase as some of the old debt that was on the books had payments that were going to increase in the coming fiscal year."

Another challenge, he noted, is the expiration of the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant, which has been funding positions at the Neosho Fire Department for the past few years.

"We know expenses are going to be higher, but the good news is we've planned on that and that's why the reserves have been increasing," Davidson said.

Davidson said he also does not believe the end of the SAFER grant should result in any staffing reductions at the fire department.

"I've heard of no planned cuts," Davidson said. "I have not heard of nor would I support any cuts at this point either in police or fire given what we've rebuilt from since 2009."

Royer said tonight's work session should kick off with a review of the general fund, which includes the city's administration, police and fire departments, and municipal court.

The city council plans to meet weekly, on Tuesday evenings throughout the month of August.

The work sessions are open to the public, who are welcome to observe, though work sessions do not include any public participation.

Royer said the goal is to have the budget completed by the end of August, to allow time for the council to vote on the final draft in first and second and third readings in September.