A recruitment incentive program to hire police officers was approved Monday night by the Joplin City Council.

Police Chief Sloan Rowland asked the council to authorize a recruitment incentive program he had previously proposed to help attract applicants who transfer from another department or are already otherwise qualified to start work and do not need to attend policy academy training.

The program also would allow an incentive to be paid to qualified city employees who refer an applicant to the department who completes the hiring process.

The chief said it is a way that some departments are hiring despite a national shortage of police officers and trainees. The Joplin department currently has 26 unfilled positions or officers who are absent from duty because they are on leave for medical reasons or for military service.

Under the program, the city would pay $5,000 to a fully trained officer who hires on from another department or those who are already in police academy and soon to graduate. The incentive could be used to pay moving expenses for those willing to come to work at the Joplin department, the chief said. The officer would have to agree to work at least two years.

City employees would get $1,000 for a recruitment referral that results in hiring.

Funding for the program would come from the city’s half-cent public safety sales tax and paid in lieu of the city having to pay the cost for trainees to attend academy training.

The request was made and approved as an emergency measure to take effect immediately.

The council also approved a resolution that would allow a special-use permit for property at 2308 S. Patterson Ave. to be operated as a short-term rental for use by people who are moving and need a temporary place to stay or for other temporary housing.

One neighbor protested the proposal, telling the council she felt that allowing people to come into the neighborhood temporarily could be a safety issue. The council agreed to the special-use permit by a vote of 7-2, with council members Diane Reid Adams and Phil Stinnett voting against it.

The council voted to table a rezoning measure for property on the southeast corner of 34th Street and Jackson Avenue. The owner of the property is seeking a change in zoning from single-family residential to multifamily apartment house zoning. Three neighbors spoke in opposition, saying the apartment house would crowd the area with small apartments and traffic. The owners, Thomas and Susan Coy, asked that the request be tabled to meet with those owners.

Two zoning requests were advanced on first reading. One declares city-owned property at 1403 E. Valley St. as surplus so that it can be sold. The other is a request to annex 4 acres at the end of West Par Lane street by Four State Homes for the purpose of building housing.

In other business, the council:

Approved a contract with Goins Enterprises to provide on-call city street repairs. The company would be paid $2,898,750 over the three-year term of the contract for the cost of infrastructure repairs.

Authorized contracts with G&G Construction Inc. for two construction projects at the Turkey Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. One is for repair of a digester at a cost of $239,000. The other is a contract for $304,840 for expansion of the plant’s ultraviolet treatment system.

Approved two event grants recommended by the advisory board of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau. Those are $7,500 from the Joplin Disc Golf Club’s Four State Open tournament Oct. 1-3 and $15,000 for the Mother Road Mayhem event July 9-11. The grants are funded by the hotel and motel tax.

The council also heard a report on business activity by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce president, Toby Teeter.

A proclamation was presented to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission recognizing May as Historic Preservation Month. Another proclamation was presented to the Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Area, a community action agency, in recognition of National Community Action Month.

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