Neosho Council Disagrees Over City Issues

By Carla Pesono

Published 04/02 2014 09:30PM

Updated 04/02 2014 10:29PM

NEOSHO, MO.--- The Neosho City Council hasn't been on the same page about some issues. The council seems to have differences regarding the handling of the American Legion lawsuit. Another issue is a disagreement about lowering residents water rates. A letter was sent out yesterday to voters from Councilmen David Ruth and Steve Hart saying if Heather Bowers is elected, then residents water and sewer rates will go down. Mayor Richard Davidson addressed the council Tuesday night saying these councilmen shouldn't have sent that letter, since the city isn't capable of doing that.

"We can't just arbitrary lower water rates if citizens think they're too high. The citizens saved millions of dollars worth of interest and in return, the state got to help us set the rates," said Mayor Richard Davidson, Neosho. 

Mayor Davidson says since 2009, the city has been in an agreement with the State of Missouri to get lower interest funds, which has saved the city about $6 million so far.
"The downside is the state gives us a formula to set our water and sewer rates," said Mayor Davidson. 

The mayor says therefore if the city lowered the rates, the city would lose low interest funding from the state. Councilman Ruth argues if the City of Neosho lowers the percentage of water produced they can in fact lower rates because the city wouldn't be spending as much money.

"I think that if we work to get our water usage down, we work in other areas, I think there's always ways we can. To say that it is mandated by the state, that we have to charge this particular rate, I don't believe that," said David Ruth, Neosho City Councilman. 

Also, Tuesday night the council decided to open their closed discussions on the American Legion lawsuit to the public.

"A couple of the councilmen have put letters out to the voters saying we weren't honoring the agreement, and that's simply wasn't true. We were at a disadvantage to talk about it because all those discussions have been in closed session because of the pending lawsuit we had with the American Legion," said Davidson. 

It has been 10 years since the City of Neosho went into an agreement with the American Legion. Under the agreement, once the city finished operating its police departments storage at the old public works water department, the city would transfer the title of that building to the Legion. Back in 2009, the city had financial problems and couldn't complete the transfer resulting in this lawsuit. Councilman Hart believes the mayor hasn't been actively working with the Legion to resolve this issue.

"It's sad that it had to wait this long, come to this point, be politicalized the way it is to get to this point. This should have been taken care of many years ago," said Steve Hart, Neosho City Councilman.  

Mayor Davidson says the city is waiting on a date on mediation. He says hopefully the city and the Legion will come to an agreement where they won't have to go to court.

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