Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Look!

Don't be alarmed, the Ozark Missouri Observer blog has a new look. I liked the old blog template, but my embedded meeting videos didn't fit right. This new layout holds the videos better.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Agenda: Christian County E-911 Board

Christian County Emergency Services
Regular Board Meeting
Old Courthouse – 2nd Floor Courtroom
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
1:30 PM

Preliminaries to the Meeting
1. Call to order
2. Roll call
3. Establishment of a quorum

Approval of the meeting’s Agenda

Public Comments

Approval of Minutes

Unfinished Business
Agreement w/ two existing boards
Funding/Organizational Committee
West Fire/Law Repeater
Contract for services (Christian County and Nixa)
Federal 911 Grant

New Business
1. Government Capital Corporation – 911 Facilities Fund

Executive Session
Closed Session pursuant to Missouri Sunshine Law, ss 610.021 (subsection 3) personnel issues

Next Meeting Date


The tentative agenda for this meeting will include a vote to close part of this meeting pursuant to the Missouri Sunshine Law,
SS 610-021.
The news media may obtain copies of this notice by contacting:
Rance Duffy
301 S Nicholas Rd
Nixa, MO 65714

Reminder: Community Breakfast Tomorrow


Don't forget, tomorrow I will be hosting our monthly community breakfast at the Village Inn from 8 - 10 am. We have a lot to discus. Here is a tentative agenda:

1.What should the proper relationship between the city and the parks board be? a. staffing issues. b. budgetary issues.

2. Johnny on the spot dumping privileges.

3. Pinecrest sub division connection fees.

4. Subdivision bonds.

Your task:
Bring to the meeting one of two things:
1. An idea for some good legislation you'd like to see in front of the board.
2. A fellow citizen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Agenda: Special Meeting with the Parks Board at the OC

This Meeting will be held at the New Ozark Community Center
Thursday July 23, 2009 7:00 p.m.

Posted 07-21-09

  1. Discuss the Specific Duties and Authorities of Each Board.
  2. Two Roles of Park Board:a.)One Role as an Advisory Board to the Ozark Board of Aldermen.b.)Second Role as an Administrative Board as it Relates to Those Specific Revenues Generated and Managed by the Dedicated Property Tax.
  3. Clarification Between Both Boards of the Understanding that the Park Director, Hired by the City, Paid by the City, and an Employee of the City, Reports Directly to the City Administrator and City Council, While Serving in a Supportive role to the Park Board in Assisting them in their Efforts to Implement the Goals and Objectives of their Long Range Plan.
  4. Clarification that all Facilities, and Those Rules and Regulations that Govern Said Facilities, Shall be Established through a Joint Effort between Both Boards.
  5. Discussion of the 651 Fund Balance Carry Over, Further Discussion of the Potential of Using Said Carry-Over to Cover any Potential Shortfalls Related to the FEMA Building.



The tentative agenda of this meeting may include a vote to close part of this meeting to discuss Litigation-Personnel-Real Estate pursuant to RSMo: 610-021 (1,2,3) and such other matters as may come before the Board.Representatives of the News Media may obtain copies of this notice by contacting:Lana Wilson205 N. 1st St.(417) 581-2407Fax (417) 581-0575(To be posted at least 24 hours prior to the commencement of the meeting on a bulletin board or other prominent place which is easily accessible to the public and clearly designated for posting notices at the principal office of the municipal corporation or political subdivision or, if no such office exists, at the building in which the meeting is to be held.) In accordance with ADA guidelines, if you need special accommodations when attending City meetings, please notify the City Clerk’s Office 417-581-2407 at least 3 days prior to the scheduled meeting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Your Input: Fireworks inside Ozark City Limits


This year was the first year in ??? years that the City of Ozark has permitted the setting off of fireworks within its city limits. How do you think it went?

When the change to allow fireworks came before the board, I was excited that they were going to change the code to allow it. As you may have noticed, I like freedom and less government, even when it comes to something as trivial as fireworks. However, I have received some complaints, and I would like your opinion on the topic.

My question to you: Do you think Ozark should continue to allow the shooting of fireworks in city limits? What is the appropriate course of action against those who cause unreasonable litter or damage to their neighbors' property while legally shooting fireworks?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Downtown Redev: Due Diligence or Malfeasance?

I read some statements in today's CC Headliner article, "Redevelopment project may be in jeopardy. LCRA board members resign because of lack of progress". that I feel require a response. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but it seems to me that if you are going to make assumptions about the motives of the members of Board of Aldermen, you should at least have the intellectual integrity to ask them what their motivations are. I, for one, did not receive a phone call from either John Custer or Eric Griessel.

I cannot speak to you today about the specific details of the current status of the project, as I have not yet been briefed, but I can speak to you about my feelings towards the last developers agreement, delays in the project since I was elected, and what the Board of Aldermen and city staff are doing to protect your tax dollars.

1. What was wrong with PlazaCorp's first proposed developer's agreement?

There were two major problems with the first agreement PlazaCorp presented to the board.

The first problem was in the tax incentive structure. To summarize, the project is located in a TIF district. This allows the project area to 'capture' 100% of the property tax and 50% of the sales tax generated in the project area and use that revenue for approved purposes (infrastructure, roads, etc.). PlazaCorp wanted the TIF incentives PLUS the remaining 50% of the sales tax generated in the project area. Thus, collecting 100% of the property taxes and 100% of the sales tax in the project area.
THE PROBLEM: Three years ago the people of Ozark overwhelming voted in favor of collecting a sales tax to pay for our new OC. I did not feel that it was ethical to take a dedicated tax that you voted for and use it for a project other than the OC. If the proposed agreement would have passed, that is exactly what would have happened.

The second problem, and perhaps the biggest, was that PlazaCorp's agreement would make the city financially responsible for projects' debt in the event that there was a shortfall. In essence, the city would have to co-sign the debt. As long as the development kept its retail space filled and met its projected revenue this would not be an issue. The development would pay for its self. PlazaCorp seemed confident in its numbers, but if they were so confident in the success of the project, why would they need the city to promise to cover the shortfall? If the project did not meet its projected revenues and the city promised to make up any shortfall, the city could have been on the hook for more that $800,000/year. That is more than 16% of this year's general revenue budget. Plus the near $300,000 in dept service per year we would still owe on the rest of the downtown properties not being developed by PlazaCorp.

THE PROBLEM: Although this is the worst case scenario, even if it were only half that bad, the city could not fulfill its commitment without devastating the necessary services you and I depend on the city to provide.

2. Why was the approval of the developer's agreement delayed?

There was no discussion of this proposal in a Board of Alderman's meeting because the resolution to adopt this proposal was removed from the agenda by it's sponsor, Mike Esteral.

Later, in a special Board of Alderman's meeting, our outside consultants gave a presentation to the board on the feasibility of the project. You can watch the video here:
As a result of this meeting, the Mayor, with the board's support, directed staff explore all options in order to better protect the interests of the taxpayer.

At the end of the day, your Board of Aldermen are responsible for the financial health of our great city. The LCRA board is not. Because they are afforded this luxury it is easier for them to say they "...[don't] want the city to be too cautious." They do not answer to you, and they are not appointed to be stewards of your tax dollars. It is much easier to be risky with that which you are not responsible.
Also, the LCRA is only tasked with focusing on the downtown redevelopment project. They don't have to be concerned with the impact it will have on the rest of the budget and functions of the city. I, as an Aldermen, must take the 'big picture' into account. PlazaCorp's initial proposal did not fit very well in that 'big picture'.

The success of this project is important to me and I know that it is important to every member of our board and all of our staff. Success does not just mean getting some buildings up and moving in some tenants. Success does not mean putting almost 1/5 of our general revenue budget at risk. Success means giving you a downtown project that we can afford and that is not going to put necessary municipal functions and services at risk.

In closing, some may not like what I have to say, and others may disagree with my reasoning, but I can assure you that my motivations lie only with the best interest of the citizens I represent and the protection of their tax dollars. It is unfair and unfounded to assume that I or anyone else has made any decision regarding this downtown project in hopes that it would fail. The failure of this project would be a failure for the City of Ozark and I can assure that whatever our differences, we are all striving for the betterment of our community.

If you are interested in helping the downtown project become a success there are now 3 open positions on the LCRA board. I would encourage each of you to put in an application to volunteer for the board.

CLARIFICATION: I mentioned above that the TIF would capture 100% of the property tax. To clarify, it would be 100% of the property tax above what the city is currently collecting. For example, if the city was collecting $100 right now, than the city would continue to collect that $100. The project area would only capture anything above that $100. Let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

07-06-2009 Board of Aldermen Video

NOTE: For whatever reason, my camera will only record 2 hrs and 32 min at one time. I am not sure how to remedy this since I am not the other side of the room from the camara. I will try to find someone to turn the recording on and off so it records in segments and I can get the whole video next time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

07-06-2009 Board Of Aldermen Meeting Recap


This week's meeting was a big one.  It was a full house, and the longest meeting yet.  Here is a recap of some of the high points:

  • Winners of the 1st Annual Mayor's Photo/Art Contest were recognize.  Congratulations to the winners, all the art work was beautiful. 
  • Recognition of Chuck Branch.  Chuck and his wife will be leaving Ozark for Tulsa soon, and we took a moment to recognize the huge contribution he has made to our city.  You can read more about Chuck's impact on our city here:  http://www.ccheadliner.com/articles/2009/07/08/news/doc4a537de57f15a353933464.txt  I would like to thank him and wish him luck.
  • 1st Reading: Bill that will allow the LCRA board to refi a certain portion of the loans they possess on downtown properties.  This refi will allow the city to make interest only payments for one year.  I believe the refi was initiated over a year ago and is just now  coming before the board to be finalized.  Refis are tricky, especially when involving tax payer dollars.  It will mean that the taxpayers will pay less now, which may be of benefit in this tight economy, but it also means that the taxpayers will pay a larger amount over the life of the loan.  Steve said he would provide the exact numbers at the next meeting before the 2nd reading and passage/failure of the bill.
  • New appointments to the P&Z: Kenneth Washam, Charlie Powell, and Darrell McGuire.  Congratulations!
  • New appointments to the Parks Board: Shea Lane, Josh Tinker, and Eric Griessel.  Congratulations! 
  • Steve gave us an update on the goings on of the Old Community Building.  Ozark has received a Brownstone grant which is allowing DNR to come down and evaluate the state of building.  They will analyze contaminants in the building (asbestos, dung, mold, etc.) and let us know what needs to be done to remove them.  All this, free of charge to the city.  Steve has also opened up bidding for an appraiser to find out just what the building is worth.  Although there are not yet definite plans for the building, these steps will help us evaluate the state of the building and what it is actually worth so we can move forward. 
  • The police department was also awarded a grant for security purposes.  This grant will pay for a large walk through metal detector for the municipal building, hand held metal detection wands, and equipment for security card access to the municipal buildings.  I am really excited about this. 
  • Bill 2459 was passed.  It revised some typos in Title 4 (the land use section) of the municipal code.
  • Before passage of the budget amendments, Parks Director, Mrs. Matthews went over the parks department 651 Budget.  You can read the high points of that here: http://tinyurl.com/mfzuxc . Mrs. Matthews stated that the budget was doing better than they anticipated considering the May opening.  The only possible problem comes in a $200,000 overage for the FEMA building of which you can read about in the above article.
  • Bill 2460 was passed.  This bill addressed a number of budget amendment.  Most of the general revenue amendments were revisions due to unforeseen changes in revenue and under budgeted items.  General revenue expenditures increased by 5.79% and revenues increased by 3.1%.  The amendments will require us to allocate $137,697.85 from last year's carryover leaving a balance of $285,560.46.  Because of the possible $200,000 shortfall in the Parks Budget, I asked for an amendment that would allocate $200,000 from the carryover balance to set aside in case the Parks Department could not come up with the funds by their December deadline.  I feel it is prudent for the city plan for such a large expense while we still have the money to do so.  It is very possible that the Parks will be able to make up the difference, and that would be great, but we should still be prepared in the mean time.  Finding $200,000 at the end of the fiscal year could prove difficult if we have not taken the necessary precautions.  After much discussion my amendment to the budget did not make it into the bill, and the original budget amendment bill passed 4 - 2.  I will be bringing the amendment back to the board at the next meeting in it's own bill.  Dennis voted no on the bill due to an increase in leased vehicles for the parks department.  I voted no because I did not want to see a budget increase without setting aside the funds to cover the FEMA building. 
  • I discussed my thoughts on signing the invoices at each meeting. For those of you who don't know, each alderman has been tasked with signing the invoiced for a particular department at each meeting.  My department is the Public Works department.  At each meeting I get a stack of about 100 invoices.  It is nearly impossible for me to read each invoice and sign it if I get to the meeting an hour early. Not to mention, since that is the earliest I can get the invoices, there is no way for me to verify the true validity of those invoices, and thus I have been very concerned about putting my signature on them.  
In my search to find a remedy to this, I found that there is no statutory or municipal code requirement that the board should sign the invoices.  In fact, according to our code, the city Administrator is the sole purchasing agent for the city.  We, the board, approve the budget, and Steve deals with the day to day expenditures.  At least that's how it is officially designed.  As long as the expenditures are within the approved budget and under $5000 the specific expenditures are not required to be approved by the board.

Although I would not be opposed to never signing another invoice again, many on the board feel like it provides them an extra level of oversight, which I can understand.  Since that seemed to be the consensus, I suggested that someone should sponsor a bill to revise the municipal code.  If the board is going to be given a responsibility, that responsibility or rule should be clearly defined and in the code book, especially when dealing with our signatures.  I believe someone will be presenting a bill for this at the next meeting. 

  • I also discussed the sponsorship of bills by members of the board.  Currently, board members are arbitrarily assigned to bills and resolutions as sponsors.  A sponsor is defined as "a person who vouches or is responsible for a person or thing." It is difficult to be responsible for a bill that is arbitrarily assigned to me, that I see for the first time on the Friday before the meeting.  Because of this, I have requested not be assigned as a sponsor to any bill or resolution that I did not write, ask for, or was previously asked to sponsor.  
As we discussed the topic, David proposed a process that would alleviate the issue.  Since the each board member is assigned a department, if that department needed a bill of some kind, that department head would need to contact their respective board member and ask for their sponsorship of said bill.  If the member will not agree to sponsor the bill, the bill would then go to the Mayor Protem in hopes that he could locate a sponsor for the bill or, if he desired, he could sponsor the bill himself.  

Having the bills arbitrarily assigned is not breaking any rules or regulations and has been done in the past, I believe, out of necessity.  To make the board function as a true legislature and follow a process like the one David suggested requires an engaged board who is willing to get 'knee deep' in the goings on of the city.  The discussion went very well, and I think now, with the current board, we are in a perfect position to make these types of positive changes happen.  

  • At the Mayor's request, the board gave an approving nod to change the OC's definition of a Family membership to a Household membership.  This will allow 2 adults dwelling in the same home and 3 children to get the $425 membership.  Current the adults have to be married.

I will get the video up this weekend, and the community breakfast will be July 25th this month.

Monday, July 6, 2009

7-6-2009 Ozark Board of Aldermen Meeting Agenda


You can find tonight's agenda here:

You can find the packet here: