Joplin council discusses sewer bonds, COVID response and Memorial Hall parking

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin City Council met tonight to discuss a number of things including sewer bonds, Phase 4 of the COVID Response Plan, and parking for Memorial Hall.

At tonight’s meeting, one of the first things discussed was Phase 4 of the COVID Response Plan.

City Manager Nick Edwards says entering Phase 4 doesn’t really change anything about how the city is currently operating. Right now, there are no restrictions active in Joplin and Phase 4 only provides guidance on monitoring the COVID situation and how the health department should prepare going forward should there be a spike in cases, or, another pandemic in the future. Edwards says “So, Phase 4 is an important step for us, it requires us to look forward and be ready for the next pandemic so that’s certainly a step that we don’t want to skip, there’s a lot of lessons that we’ve learned throughout this process and it’s important that we document those and prepare for the next one.”

Also tonight, council had an ordinance on first reading dealing with parking for Memorial Hall.

The ordinance had two Memorandums of Understanding between the City and the Joplin School District for the purchase of parking directly behind Memorial Hall currently owned by the district, as well as the use of nearby district parking at the Memorial Education Center as overflow parking. Edwards says “There’s still an opportunity to maybe do parking on, along Joplin and Wall Avenues, so, this was just step one and I think even if this is the only thing we do in parking, I think it will be a great thing for Memorial Hall and also for Connect 2 Culture.”

The ordinance passed on first reading, which means it will come up again for second and third before final approval at a future meeting. The ordinance also had a contingency saying it would only be in effect *if* voters approve the bonds to renovate Memorial Hall in the April 2022 elections.

Council also discussed refinancing $24 million in sewer bonds. While that may seem like a lot, Edwards says it’s not dissimilar from refinancing your home. The city has the opportunity to refinance sewer bonds issued between 2010 and 2014 at a much lower interest rate. Edwards says “That will save the city about $1.2 million and provide us a lot of flexibility with a very important service that’s provided.”

The ordinance to refinance the bonds was passed on an emergency basis tonight.