By Debby Woodin
Trustees of Silver Creek are asking to consolidate the village of 700 with the city of Joplin.
The Joplin City Council is slated to hold discussion on the proposal at its informal meeting Monday.
Pat Worley, chairman of the Silver Creek Board of Trustees, in noting reasons for the request, said one is that residents will save more than $500 in taxes and fees. Another is that there is too much work for the existing board to handle. Also, there are not enough volunteers to handle village business anymore.
Worley said representatives of the board have had two meetings with Joplin administrators to discuss the proposal. If the City Council agrees to proceed, village leaders plan to ask voters on the Aug. 7 ballot for authority to consolidate.
“They approached us, so we’re very interested to hear what they present to us,” said new Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean. She said the council is open to hear matters people want the panel to consider. “Then we will research the pros and cons” and have a discussion with the full council, she said.
The reasons for the request are “primarily financial,” Worley said. “The city (Joplin) has no personal property tax and that’s a savings.” Silver Creek pays property tax for fire service to Redings Mill. That amounts to $148.70 on a $100,000 house, Worley said. Joplin’s property tax for a house of that value is $28.90, which decreases the property tax bill by about $120.
Village residents would pay lower sewer service charges. Trash disposal is now $10 a month for one cart from Allied Waste. Joplin residents receive two polycarts plus bulky item removal for less than $2 more a month.
Worley estimates the total savings for the average Silver Creek household at about $556 a year.
Worley also noted the volume of work it takes to manage village business.
“We’ve had a new sewer system in for a year or so, and there is a lot of paperwork involved” in handling the billing, collections and operations. “We just don’t have enough interest in people serving on the board to take care of all that,” Worley said.
The previous village clerk was an attorney. “We have been without a clerk for 2 1/2 years, and it takes someone with an attorney background to do the clerk’s job. We’re one person short on the board. So we’ve been running with three people on the board. One works full time and that pretty much leaves the other two to carry the load, and it’s just too much.”
The village has 268 houses with about 700 residents, Worley said. “We’ve had a steady house or two built a year. Most all of our houses, if they’re for sale, don’t stay for sale long. We have had an influx from the tornado. Eight houses have been sold because of the tornado” that hit Joplin and Duquesne on May 22.
In exchange for that tax base, the city of Joplin is asked to pay the village’s $1.2 million in debt left on the sewer system.
Worley acknowledges that it is a surprise that the village would ask to come into the city limits rather than holding on to its independence.
“We have a town hall that we paid cash for,” he said. “It’s a double-wide with a great room and lots of bathrooms. It has three bathrooms,” he said with a laugh. Residents are allowed to reserve it for private functions with a $40 security deposit.
“We used to meet in people’s living rooms because we were too (frugal) to spend the money” on a village hall. “Spend not, waste not, want not,” he said. “But it’s pretty much a get-along place.”
Joplin’s city attorney, Brian Head, could not be reached Friday afternoon to discuss the implications for Joplin should the proposal move forward or questions about the consolidation procedure.
The Joplin City Council’s informal meeting is at 5:15 p.m. Monday on the fifth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.