The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 16, 2009

Neosho council gives final OK to layoffs, pay cut

By Derek Spellman

NEOSHO, Mo. — A city budget calling for layoffs and a pay cut for all employees secured final approval Tuesday night in Neosho, although not without objections.

The budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, includes nine layoffs and a 3.75 percent pay cut for all employees. The proposed budget calls for a total of 119 full-time employees for the next fiscal year.

The budget was approved on second and third readings by a 4-1 margin, with Councilwoman Heather Bowers the lone dissenter.

Bowers moved to fire City Manager Jan Blase during last week’s special council meeting on the city budget, criticizing Blase’s management and what she has considered a lack of oversight. That motion died for a lack of a second from the three other council members present.

Bowers on Tuesday night demanded more specifics about the city finances and spending, calling for more “transparency” in city government in general. She said the city has been slow to produce that information.

Her comments drew a sharp rejoinder from Councilman Warren Langland, who accused Bowers of repeated “out of order denunciations” at council meetings that were often unsubstantiated and made a “mockery” of the proceedings. He also accused Bowers, whom he described as “the councilman to my left,” of using a “public forum” to promote a personal agenda.

“I don’t have an agenda,” Bowers told the Globe during a recess in Tuesday’s council meeting, except to promote transparency and the greater availability of public information.

But there were several comments about Tuesday night’s budget proposal, which was passed virtually unchanged from the proposal Blase advanced earlier this month.

Councilman Richard Davidson asked that next year the council receive the proposed budget in July as opposed to late August, so it would have more time to dissect and make recommendations to the proposal. Currently, the council has “very little input” on the proposal other than to vote on it, he said.

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A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

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