The Neosho City Council met in regular session Tuesday evening at City Hall. The agenda was light for the first meeting in 2018.

The Neosho City Council met in regular session Tuesday evening at City Hall.  The agenda was light for the first meeting in 2018.
Mayor Ben Baker, council members Tom Workman, Bill Doubek, and Richard Davidson were present. Councilman Jon Stephens was absent and had asked to be excused due to illness. Also present were interim city manager Dana Daniel, Neosho city attorney Steve Hays, and acting City Clerk Georgia Holtz.
Pastor Jeremie Bridges, The Canopy, Neosho opened the meeting with a prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Council members approved both the agenda and consent agenda for Tuesday's meeting as well as the minutes from both open and closed sessions on Dec. 19. Minutes from a special open session held on Dec. 21 were also approved.
Westco of Neosho was named the January Business/Employer of the Month by proclamation. Westco, located at 901 South Neosho Boulevard, is one of twelve Westco locations areawide. They are a furniture and appliance dealer.
"We appreciate their business in Neosho," Mayor Ben Baker stated.
In new businesses, the council approved a request for irrevocable consent for annexation  from Joshua and Shelby Howe for Lots 4, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 18 on Pella Lane, located south of Neosho and west of Highway 59. Dana Daniels presented the request to the council. The proposal would allow the parcels to be annexed into the city at a later date, allowing for connection to city utilities. The land does not share a common border with the city at this time. "Staff recommended that council approve irrevocable consent," Daniel said. The proposal was unanimously approved by council members.
Next on the agenda was a request to approve an expenditure to update sewer specifications for the city.
"This is to allow for an upgrade to our specs at a cost of $5,000 from Allgeier Martin Engineering. With our growth and development, we really need to have some specs (in place)." Current specs are minimal and city staff recommended that the council authorize the payment. The expenditure was approved by council. Funding will be paid out of the Wastewater budget, as a professional services line item.
Neosho Building Inspector John Harrington presented a variance request to the city council. The request was made by Sam and Debbie Major, who would like to build an apartment complex on vacant property located at the corner of Lafayette and Hickory Streets.  The properties are currently zoned as R-3, Apartment House District and the requested variance is on the setbacks. Setbacks are building restrictions regarding the distance of a building from the curb, property line or structure.
"Most of the (existing) setbacks in the central part of town would not meet the (current) setbacks because they were built at an earlier time," Harrington told council members. "They want to get the variance ahead of time so as to not slow down construction."
The variance request was approved by the council.
"It's good to see development in this part of town," Councilman Richard Davidson commented.
City Attorney Steve Hays read Bill Number 2018-866, a request to adjust the budget for the street department. Daniel stated, "This is a request that comes from the public works department and after a discussion with the financial department, we are asking approval to adjust funds from Street Materials to increase Street Salaries in the amount of $8843.00. We currently have only one staff mechanic that serves all city departments because the head mechanic is currently on medical leave. We are asking to raise the annual salary for the mechanic from $27, 775 to $35,000. The need for quality and experience in the position is crucial and we feel this will keep the right personnel at this position."
Councilman Tom Workman asked if the city intends to maintain one mechanic.
"We will keep two," Daniel replied. "At some point, we will probably come back for a raise for the head mechanic."
The bill passed on first reading and will be in effect following the final reading at the next council meeting on January 16, 2018.
The final item on the agenda was the approval of an annual contract with the Central Dispatch Center. Lt. Mike Sharp of the Neosho Police Department appeared before the council with the request to renew the contract. He stated that Central Dispatch is used by police, fire, ambulance, city codes, public works, and city government. The county is paid $6.38 per call, the same rate paid in 2017. Although the per call rate does not increase, the total payments are predicted to rise.
"Since 2015 we have seen an increase in calls by about 7,000 calls," Sharp told council members. "That's because, in part, calls from public works and our animal control officer have been added. We will probably see an increase this year."
Central Dispatch provides 24/7 dispatching services, logs all calls into Newton County's in-house computer system, and provides 24 hour access to MULES/NCIC (Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System/National Crime Clearing House).
"I make the observation that the Neosho Police Department had more calls than the Sheriff's department by the numbers on the report," Davidson commented.
On the Newton County Dispatch fees worksheet provided to council members, the Neosho Police Department had 16,104 calls between January 1 and September 30 in 2017 while the Newton County Sheriff's Office logged 16,057.
Council members approved the request to renew the contract.
The council adjourned to enter closed session.
The next meeting of the Neosho City Council will be held on Tuesday, January 16 at 7 p.m. in council chambers located in City Hall, located on the southeast corner of the Neosho Square.