The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 28, 2012

Commission opinions vary as to how, whether to fund portion of PSU project

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Opinions varied Tuesday night as to whether the city of Pittsburg should fund a portion of a proposed $17 million event center and indoor track and field site at Pittsburg State University, what funding stream should be used, and whether the proposal should be put to a vote of the people.

For the second time in nine days, PSU officials, including President Steve Scott, and project supporters, including Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Blake Benson and Convention and Visitors Bureau Director B.J. Harris, presented in a public forum what they called the necessity and benefits of the project.

They requested that the city put $7.6 million toward it.

“We have a chance tonight to make a landmark decision,” said project spokeswoman Kaye Lynn Webb, whose family owns the Watco transportation company and who worked in the PSU president’s office for more than two decades. “I hope you come to the same conclusion we have. This is a wonderful, golden opportunity. But we need to get it done.”

Discussion as to what funding stream should be used focused primarily on the city’s Revolving Loan Fund, paid for through half of a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1985. The loan fund’s share generates about $800,000 to $900,000 a year, and it could generate more this year as sales tax revenue is up about 5 percent, according to City Manager Daron Hall.

But Mayor John Ketterman said he is skeptical about the future of the fund, as the economy remains uncertain. He lobbied for putting the proposal to a ballot vote.

“We don’t know if (the Revolving Loan Fund money) will be here next year, and we would have to end up raising taxes in some way, shape or form to pay for this,” he said. “I believe it needs to go to a vote of the people. If you truly want to have a partnership with the city of Pittsburg, the community, they have the right to vote on this. That’s just my opinion.”

City Commissioners Patrick O’Bryan, Marty Beezley and Michael Gray disagreed.

“I think that’s what they hired us for,” O’Bryan said.

Beezley said that under no circumstances would a city investment in the project require raising taxes. She advocated the use of the loan fund, and said that such an investment would create job growth for which the city has been looking.

“You’re an industry here in the community, and you’re not going to leave,” Beezley said. “Those RLF funds ... what they have done for this community, to grow this community, I could defend to the nth degree for a very long time. I think we could inform the community and they would see how very beneficial they would be.”

O’Bryan, too, said he supported investing in the university.

“All people talk about job growth,” he said. “We’ve got this sitting right here. People voted on the sales tax to set that money aside for economic development. They’ve already voted. At that voting, they gave us the directive to administer. We have a sure bet here.”

He cautioned, however, that “when looking at 10,000 students, we’ll be faced with some real infrastructure challenges that will have to be addressed.”

Scott emphasized that the university’s growing enrollment is providing the city with about $8 million a year in student spending. He said “the time is now” for the project, because it would make PSU attractive to recruits and would provide an indoor space capable of housing large tournaments and trade shows.

Hall, the city manager, said he had several ideas for funding options he was prepared to discuss with university officials before presenting the City Commission a final plan for consideration. The commission directed him to work on financing options and present a plan at a future meeting, perhaps as early as the Dec. 11 commission meeting.

Job potential?

PITTSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY, with 1,867 employees, is the largest employer in Crawford County. A study by a local consulting group suggests that three proposed projects to be built at PSU could net 444 jobs.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies

    I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A state lawmaker who is one of two doctors in the Oklahoma Legislature is insisting that unaccompanied immigrant minors being housed at Fort Sill be quarantined. Do you think those kinds of measures should be taken?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter