City commits $5,000 to organization

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Jan. 17, Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle broke a tie vote to approve a marketing partner commitment with the Springfield Regional Economic Partnership (SREP). The commitment will cost the city $5,000 annually.

Eugene Dilbeck, city administrator, presented the Cassville City Council with a letter and menu of services from SREP at the council meeting on Monday.

"This is a sign of the times," said Dilbeck. "Cassville is one of 10 counties that has benefited from the Ozark Regional Economic Partnership (OREP), now know as the Springfield Regional Economic Partnership, at no cost."

The organization was formerly funded by state money and corporate donations raised through capital drives, said Dilbeck.

"The money is drying up, and the principle investors have insisted the organization restructure and set up a pay-to-play fee schedule," said Dilbeck.

There are 14 regional economic development offices in Missouri. The Springfield and Joplin offices serve southwest Missouri.

"This is how we get leads about companies that are interested in Missouri or this part of the United States," said Dilbeck. "It helps with marketing to those companies and brings people into our area. We have benefited from OREP since Lynette (Dilbeck, economic development director) and I have been here."

In addition to the $5,000 marketing partner commitment, SREP's menu of services offers a $500 regional partner commitment and a $2,500 legislative partner commitment.

Dilbeck stated that the regional partner commitment would provide very few benefits for the city. He also said that the legislative partner commitment offers the same services that are available through the Missouri Municipal League, which the city already benefits from.

"I believe the $5,000 marketing partner commitment will get us what we want, which is the ability to promote the city," said Dilbeck.

Through the marketing partner commitment, the city will have the opportunity to be featured on SREP's website and in promotional materials.  City staff members will also be able to attend the SREP trade shows.

Dilbeck reported that he presented the menu of services to the Cassville Industrial Development Commission (IDC), which expressed support for the marketing partner commitment. Alderman Terry Heinz asked if the IDC was interested in sharing in the expense.

"There are funds in the budget for this, so I didn't even ask," said Dilbeck.

According to Dilbeck, the $5,000 partnership fee will be paid for with economic development monies, which are provided by the UDAG fund.

"It is nice of them to recommend the most expensive option and not volunteer to share in the costs," said Heinz. "I would like to see how many organizations the city belongs to, the cost of each, whose idea it was to join those organizations and who is benefiting from them.

"This might be a great thing or it might not, but when new stuff like this comes in and we didn't even give our employees a raise, it makes me think," said Heinz.

Holle pointed out that economic development funds cannot be used to give employee raises.

Alderman Darrell Ledenham expressed support for the marketing partner commitment.

"If we have the money in the budget for it and our administrator is recommending it then I chose to do it," said Ledenham, who made a motion to approve the expenditure.

Alderman Bill Hill seconded Ledenham's motion, which received a two-to-two vote. Alderman Mark Pry and Heinz opposed the expenditure.

"Since I have been mayor, OREP has tended to our needs and helped us through various things," said Holle. "Since this is not coming out of our tax dollars and is coming from economic development money, I am for it. We need all available avenues as we move forward with the enhanced enterprise zone (EEZ)."

The council also discussed its holiday work schedule, which will require the city to close for four days during Christmas this year.

"I would like to propose a revision to the holiday ordinance for 2011," said Dilbeck. "The way the policy is currently written, employees will receive Friday off for Christmas Eve, which is on a Saturday, and Monday off for Christmas day, which is on a Sunday."

Dilbeck suggested the city staff take three days off for Christmas. In order to give staff members 10 paid holidays during 2011, Dilbeck plans to select a holiday that is not currently given as a paid day off to replace the additional day usually offered at Christmas.

Pry made a motion to leave the ordinance unchanged.

"Christmas Eve is unique this year, but it will not always be this way," said Pry.

The motion died with lack of a second.

Heinz suggested the council table the discussion in order to obtain more information.

After further discussion, Heinz asked Pry make the motion to leave the ordinance unchanged a second time. Heinz seconded the motion, and all aldermen voted in favor.

In other business, the Cassville City Council:

* Voted to accept a property donation from Truman Baker and Herschel Stehlik. The property, which is located near the intersection of Gravel and 10th streets, was appraised at $36,000.

* Approved a $5,065.74 purchase order to rebuild six sludge pumps and a $1,500 purchase order for appraisal services.

* Authorized Lochner, Bucher, Willis and Ratliff (BWR) Division to apply for a $17,445 grant that will be used to develop materials and conduct meetings to educate residents about height limitations surrounding the Cassville Municipal Airport. The grant will require a 5 percent match.

* Approved the purchase of software that will be used to establish a global information system (GIS) to manage the city's infrastructure. The budgeted expenditure is $12,160.

* Tabled an agreement that would allow the city to access the county's GIS digital database.

* Approved a contract with Avaya for phone maintenance services.

* Heard that city sales tax was down less than 1 percent in January.

* Approved change orders for the Southern Hills sewer project and airport lighting project.

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