The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 11, 2013

Carthage committee endorses fire substation as budget goal

By Susan Redden
news@joplinglobe.com

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage officials are predicting a conservative city budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 — but one that will include funding toward a new fire substation in south Carthage.

The forecast and spending proposal were part of budget goals and priorities endorsed Monday night by the Carthage Budget Ways and Means Committee.

If efforts on the south fire substation go the way officials hope, the city could be “putting up walls this time next year,” Mayor Mike Harris said after the budget session.

Harris told the committee that he’s hearing from residents in south Carthage who say their fire insurance rates will drop if the city builds a substation.

“We’ve talked about it for a long time, but that part of town has really changed,” Harris said, noting the construction of Steadley Elementary School, a new hospital and a new high school in the south part of the city.

Tom Short, city administrator, noted that the City Council years ago had gone so far as to take bids for a south fire station. But the bids were rejected, and the project languished until recent years as growth in south Carthage increased.

“We know where we want to go, and we need to get it programmed,” he told the committee.

Voters in 2011 approved a quarter-cent fire department sales tax.

Other priorities endorsed during the session include enhancements to the parks system and in the city’s information technology programs.

Before 2000, the Carthage parks system was separate from the city and was governed by its own board. After it was incorporated into the city, improvements were made to parks equipment. But, Short said, the parks “still need help,” noting particularly bad roads in the system. The council also plans on working with students from Drury University during the next fiscal year on a “visioning” plan for city parks.

The city earlier worked with the university on a plan for the downtown, and a committee of volunteers is working to carry out some of those recommendations. Representatives of the group on Monday night sought funding for a stone marker decorated with a maple leaf that the group hopes will be the first of a series of signs to be placed around the city. “Welcome to Carthage” would be engraved on the stone, along with the Route 66 logo.

“We want to make it the Carthage brand; we’d fund-raise for other signs,” said Janet Stafford, committee chairwoman.

Based on bids that were sought, the group asked for funding of up to $11,500, and committee members said they would recommend it to the council. Funding of $20,000 is allocated this year, Short said.



No increases

DEPARTMENT HEADS will be instructed to prepare budgets that do not increase services or numbers of workers next fiscal year, City Administrator Tom Short said.