Joplin City Council holds first budget discussion for upcoming fiscal year

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin City Council held their first of many budget discussions tonight for the upcoming fiscal year.

City Manager Nick Edwards made the presentation at Monday night’s meeting. He covered the need to increase pay for city employees across the board, saying that current city wages are not competitive even within the Joplin market itself. “My budget proposal includes funding to help address wages, and so that’s a significant item for the city to address, from my perspective that is probably the greatest barrier that’s standing in front of the city keeping us from providing better service.”

Planning for this budget has been more difficult than years past, because of the Coronavirus, and the different national relief efforts related to it. “I don’t think the true impact to the local economy is known at this point, with the stimulus and increased unemployment I think that is clouding what the real economic condition is like.”

Edwards also said he wanted to start re-aligning the city’s spending. “For most of the last decade the city’s been using money that it’s received to address issues of the past, and so there needs to be a conversation about money that the city can use to take care of and address future needs.”

Finance Director Leslie Haase says another major challenge is the difficulties with revenue in the city. The city relies heavily on sales tax and what’s known as a franchise tax, dealing with local utility providers. However, Haase says sales tax revenue is not as strong as it should be, which she attributes to losses to online sales and the franchise taxes have been declining for several years. “When we model out our projections, then, it definitely shows that our resources, the growth in our resources doesn’t keep pace with the growth in our expenditures.”

Both Haase and Edwards say they’re hopeful they can continue to work on ways to improve city spending and revenue for future years.

The next step in the budget process is to hold a public hearing. That is scheduled for the next council meeting on August 17th.