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Citizens to decide on residency requirement for city manager

Neosho City Manager Rules
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Neosho City Manager Rules

NEOSHO, Mo. - After the recent resignation of Leland Butcher, who served less than a year, citizens are now facing a decision: Should their next city manager be a resident?

"Of our last three city managers, only one of them, technically, lived among us, and I've figured out there's ways to play the game. There's way to skirt the system," said Charles Collinsworth, a Neosho citizen for over 20 years.

Collinsworth, a former council member and mayor of the town, explains that guidelines haven't always been clear when it comes to the residency requirement.

"So if you rent a property, buy a property, you could still go back to your house four or five nights a week and still say, 'Hey, I have an apartment in Neosho.'"

The confusion lies with a home rule city charter requiring the city manager live within city limits, allowing exceptions from city council. An ordinance passed in 2008, however, specified the residency requirement without exceptions. Now council members are asking voters to weigh in on a requirement that the city manager have a Neosho address, and no more than a 30 minute response time to city hall.

"Somebody that does not live in the city limits, they do not have city utilities...There's merit to say they need to have skin in the game, they should be in city limits," said Collinsworth.

Collinsworth says that when it comes right down to it, it's up to the voters to decide and he'll be happy with the outcome either way.

"It's very important that we find somebody that will just be great for Neosho and just invest and want to stay."

Voters will decide the issue in the November election, but it's possible the city could hire a city manager before the question is resolved.

We reached out to the city for further comment, but did not hear back from either the city clerk or city attorney before our deadline.

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