Finance Director: City of West Plains 'turning the corner financially'

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- The City of West Plains held a budget amendment meeting Wednesday evening where it shows the city is actually making money and must now decide what to do with the surplus.

The city's finance director told me the city is turning the corner financially.

He says the floods of 2017 set the city back and since then, city personnel have made the right moves to help the city's cash flow get back to where it needs to be.

Budget projections show the city will turn a profit of nearly a quarter of a million dollars by the end of March 2020.

"That's great for the city, great for the employees and great for everybody involved," Finance Director Todd Harman told KY3.

Just two years ago, the future didn't look so bright.

"We've had salary freezes, hiring freezes and we had spending freezes," Harman said.

Now with finances in order, the city is once again hiring, purchasing new firetrucks and police cars, while also giving city employees the best pension available.

"We where to were we had 20 days cash on hand. As a finance director, that's a scary position for me to be in, Harman added. We've gotten to the point now, to where as we speak right now, we're closer to 75 or 80 days cash on hand."

Harman says the city is in a position now to look at the future and not just day-by-day.

Voters said resoundingly last week that the old Parkside House must go.

That frees up roughly $1 million.

Other budgeted projects include a Civic Center refresh, park renovations, sidewalk improvements, Emergency Operations Center improvements, upgrades to the city's phone and I-T systems and the possibility of a dog park.

And just to make sure everyone is on an even-playing field, Harman says a third-party, independent company has already been at work studying how much employees are paid.

"To be able to compare what we pay with our benefits and compare what other places around pay, so that I can then go to the employees of the city and say this is a fair evaluation of what you should be earning," Harman explained.

Now an update on the Parkside House situation: The group looking to save the house has another 25 days to contest the results of the election. But no demolition work can start until a judge rules on a temporary restraining order placed against the city. The next hearing is December 5th.

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