NEOSHO, Mo. — The Neosho City Council was unable to decide on a selection for city administrator Tuesday night, but whoever is tabbed, the person will have to live nearby.
Voters on Tuesday were asked to resolve a contradiction in city laws by determining whether to require that the city administrator live inside the city limits. According to ballot language released by the Newton County clerk, if the measure passes, then the new administrator must have a Neosho address and no more than a 30-minute response time to get to City Hall, located at 203 E. Main St. downtown.
That measure passed overwhelmingly with a vote of 565 in favor and 122 against, according to complete but unofficial results from the Newton County clerk.
In closed session, council members looked at a final pool of four city administrator candidates, chosen from an initial field of 14 and narrowed to six. The city is seeking to replace Leland Butcher, who left suddenly in July to accept an adjunct professor position with Columbia Southern University, an online school.
Of the four finalists, only one is currently a Neosho resident, said Mayor Bill Doubek.
The contradiction about where the city administor is required to live stems from the adoption of a home rule city charter and ordinances passed afterward. The original charter required the city administrator to live within city limits but gave the council the option to remove that requirement. An ordinance passed in 2008, however, specified the residency requirement without the ability to make exceptions.
Some candidates during the search effort told council members that they had already established residencies nearby and didn't wish to upend their families for the position.
Doubek said the council is likely to take up the issue again during its next meeting, set for Nov. 19.