The city of Neosho will save over $360,000 in debt service under a deal finalized by the city council Tuesday.

The council approved on second and third readings an ordinance to approve a lease purchase transaction and the delivery of refunding certificates of participation, series 2014.

Jack Billingham, Piper Jaffray, underwriter of the transaction, said, “This significant amount of savings is directly tied to the city’s improved finances, and once again we were able to obtain an ‘A’ rating from Standard and Poor’s (S&P) for the annual appropriation, in essence, certificates of participation by the debt that this refinanced in terms of the outstanding issues for the auditorium and the senior center.”

Billingham reported a very nice refunding will see true interest costs on the tax-exempt portion at 2.93 percent, and 2.23 percent for the shorter taxable issue. He said the significant change in city finances over the past few years has allowed the city to attain the ‘A’ rating over that time, and that this is the third time Neosho has been able to save interest charges through such refinancing efforts since 2012.

Troy Royer, city manager, interjected that different people at S&P have examined the city’s finances each year, so a fresh perspective has been provided each time. Billingham noted that one of the facets that makes Neosho bonds more sellable in the marketplace is because of its expanded unrestricted fund balances that have been built over that time.

The council continued a discussion begun several months ago when Neosho businessman Kevin VanStory asked for relief from a $1,200 water bill he received after a water line broke on his side of the meter. VanStory has already been provided the 50 percent adjustment provided for in city policy, and a measure to provide additional relief was voted down at the previous meeting to allow more time to investigate the matter.

Royer reported that a polling of numerous cities in the region found only Carthage that would provide a more lenient adjustment, which will provide up to a 75 percent adjustment – with the restriction that the customer replaces all lines with approval of the building inspector and the city.

Royer said local utilities Empire Electric and MGE (Missouri Gas Energy) will not make adjustments

 “They will let you make payment plans,” he continued, “when something happens on your side that is not the fault of MGE or Empire Electric.”

Royer added that the city is trying to focus on reducing water loss, and all write-offs on bills are a part of the water loss in the city. The council then consented to keep the policy as it is written.

One bid was approved by council, for repair of the hydraulic cylinder on the fire department’s ladder truck. Mike Eads, fire chief, said the truck has been taken out of service, with a mutual aid agreement for the Carthage Fire Department to respond if a ladder truck were needed during the expected two weeks it will take to get the truck repaired. Eads said it will be sent to Rogersville for work by Mid America at their facility after offering the low minimum bid of $6,289.19.

The council approved on first reading a bill to submit a tax proposal to the voters of the city for their approval. Steven Hays, city attorney, explained that rural coops are not included in the city’s five-percent gross receipts tax, and as city boundaries expand, more and more New-Mac Electric Cooperative customers are becoming city residents.

“Empire Electric users, the vast majority of the city, are required to pay the five-percent gross receipts tax,” Hays said. “Those persons who are serviced by New-Mac do not, so this is a way of applying equally to both the New-Mac and Empire users, the gross receipts tax, based on the electricity they are using.”

Hays advised this would have no impact on Empire customers, and added that the Hancock Amendment precludes the council from enacting the tax unless it is approved by a vote of the people.

The annual agreement with the Joplin Humane Society was also approved. Dana Daniel, economic development director, said after no rise in price for several years, the charge will increase from $37.80 to $49.44 for each live stray animal taken to that facility. Daniel said the city also maintains an annual agreement with the Carthage Humane Society, as it is important to maintain a relationship with both cities because of the number of animals rounded up in Neosho.

Also approved were irrevocable consent to annexation and agreements for properties located 14408 Kodiak Road, and at 13795/13799 Pella Lane. Daniel explained the agreement provides water and sewer service at 1.5 times the normal rate for each property from lines that already pass by, and that if and when the property becomes contiguous with the city, it will be annexed into the city limits.

Council gave first reading approval to bills to make line-item adjustments in the budgets for building inspections, development services, recycling, the senior center and the airport, and for renewing a 10-year agreement with the state that requires elected officials to submit annual personal financial disclosure statements to the Missouri Election Commission.