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City works to untangle finances after firing the city manager - KOAM TV 7

City works to untangle finances after firing the city manager

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by JORDAN AUBEY

Police officers in Neosho, Missouri are reminding each other to be patient, as officials sift through city-wide budget problems.

City departments in Neosho have been operating on necessity, rather than desire.

Workers are being asked to spend money only on what they need but city hall is working towards finding some sort of relief.

"It's very disappointing to have built our department to the point where it was, where in 2010 we were on the road to a big crime reduction for three years in a row, and this was going to be the biggest year ever," says Neosho Police Chief Dave McCracken.

There used to be 26 officers with the Neosho Police Department.

Now there are 14, and crimes reported have gone up as patrols have gone down.

Change from 2009 to 2010:

  • Assault - down 45%
  • Auto theft - up 56%
  • Burglary - up 5%
  • Property damage - down 32%
  • Stealing - up 2%

Chief McCracken says it is just a matter of time before insurance companies start raising rates for home and car owners.

"When the insurance companies go to set rates, they look at all that," says McCracken.  "We're not able to prevent the crime that we have done so in the past."

At city hall, new Neosho Finance Director Martha Mundt is busy investigating the past and trying to find a future for police officers and other city employees.

Last year, a former city manager was convicted of illegally transferring funds throughout the city's budget.

"Since there was the comingeling of restricted revenues with general revenues, moving forward with confidence is more possible if we know where we are historically," says Mundt.  "And when there's the comingeling of those monies, it is hard to determine how much we have, specifically in general revenue."

During the period in question there were only $2,000 cash in Neosho's general revenue fund.

The city's new finance director is trying to see if the situation has improved.

"The part that we are still working on the analysis on, the residual balances that were there at September 30th of 2010, we're trying to determine what the correct allocation of those is between the general fund and the other sales tax funds," Mundt says.

Among other expenses, the city still has to pay off loans totaling $1.5 million.

And there is more number crunching needed to pinpoint funds and make sure current expenses do not surpass revenues.

In the meantime, city operations continue on the bare necessities.

"That's what we're doing right no," says Police Chief McCracken.  "We are just trying at every point to save money, and to try to build our reserves back up in this city."

Neosho does have a new revenue source to help with city finances.  City hall has just begun to receive some property tax income from taxes collected before December.  The tax rate is 42 cents for every $100 evaluation.

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