The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 19, 2014

Baseball lease on City Council agenda; trail construction, pension question also to be considered

JOPLIN, Mo. — Formal action on a lease for a baseball development at Joe Becker Stadium as well as ordinances to place proposed city charter changes on the April 8 ballot are to be considered by the Joplin City Council.

The council’s regular meeting is postponed until Tuesday in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. City Hall will be open Monday, though the council’s regular meeting is moved.

A lease agreement for the ballpark would allow an independent professional baseball team to play there. As part of a $9.3 million redevelopment of the area for a baseball park, the city would agree to spend up to $4 million to enlarge and update the stadium if the lease is approved by the council.

In other business, the formal wording of ballot proposals to change some language in the city’s 1954 charter is to be submitted for council action.

Chuck Brown, vice chairman of the Charter Review Commission, told the council at its last meeting that the panel had reviewed nine questions and recommended three for changes.

Those to be placed on the ballot are:

• Lower a residency qualification for council candidates from four years to two.

• Raise pay for council members from $5 per meeting to $100 a month.

• Drop a requirement that public works directors hold an engineering license.

The council voted at its last meeting to place the items on the April ballot.

A construction contract to build another new trail also is proposed. The council will be asked to approve a contract with Emery Sapp & Sons for $398,726 to build the new Murphy Boulevard Trail. The trail would be installed along Murphy Boulevard from Fourth Street to 20th Street.

Also on tap for council action is approval of an amendment to the Police and Firemen’s Pension Plan that was authorized by members of the plan in a December election. The amendment would allow the pension board to buy disability insurance to cover disability claims if that was less expensive than paying claims out of the plan.

The pension board has appealed a local court ruling that disability pay should amount to half a worker’s average monthly earnings. In pension board meetings, there has been discussion about how to protect the plan were a number of disability claims to be filed. The city has stepped up its contributions to the plan for several years to try to raise the funding ratio, which now stands at about 54 percent and needs to be 80 percent or higher to ensure that all benefits could be paid, according to officials.

Approval of several demolitions of deteriorated structures also will be considered. Those are at 2005 S. Empire Ave., 317 E. Ninth St., 312 N. McCoy Ave. and 3230 S. Jackson Ave.

When, where

THE JOPLIN COUNCIL will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the fifth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.

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