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
  • 0420earthday.jpg Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events

    Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Catholic schools to hold annual spring auction

    The Joplin Area Catholic Schools spring auction will be staged Saturday at the Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center, 5300 S. Range Line Road in Joplin.

    April 19, 2014

  • Wally Kennedy MUG72.jpg Wally Kennedy: Another pizza choice and ice cream on the way

    A new pizza restaurant is coming to the northwest corner of Stone’s Corner in the Village of Airport Drive. Piez is opening this week in a storefront that formerly housed Quincy Magoo’s, 6039 N. Main Street Road, which has been closed for more than two years.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • mike pound_cnhi .jpg Mike Pound: No more hiding Easter eggs or emotions

    Well, that’s a wrap on the Easter egg hunts. For about 15 years we have staged not one, but two Easter egg hunts for our now 16-year-old daughter, Emma.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Missouri Republicans are considering a new approach to prevent federal agents from enforcing laws the state considers to be infringements on gun rights: barring them from future careers in state law enforcement agencies. Do you think this proposal has merit?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter