September City Stuff

On August 27th 48 Nixa residents, along with the City Council and staff met to discuss city-wide priorities. These residents, representing areas throughout Nixa, joined Council to assess the City’s priorities, as it related to: City budget, Police services, Parks programs, Street projects and pedestrian and bicycle paths. To read a summary of the entire presentation go here.

The old adage that all politics is local seems very fitting this month. One of the complaints I heard while campaigning throughout southwest Nixa was the lack of traffic enforcement - especially as school got out - on the cross streets of Pembrook, Butterfield, Dustin and Verna Lane. These streets are used by high school students and others to avoid traffic on Highway 14 as they make their way across town. To help with this public safety issue, I asked city staff to do two things - to standardize signage and speed limits on these streets, and to increase traffic enforcement at these times. The signs are up, and hopefully the issues will come down.

My other priority this month was the completion of step one of the utility deposit overhaul that I discussed in last month's post (Back to Work). At the City Council's September meeting two ordinances and a resolution were enacted to make the first of these changes a reality. Now an established commercial business moving into Nixa, or a new business who owns their own location, can have the utility deposit waived, as long as they are in good standing with their current utility provider and they agree to direct withdrawal for their utility bills. The next step will be to credit back existing utility deposits to those businesses and residents who have consistently paid their utilities on time.

The next couple of months will be monopolized by the annual budgeting process. Since my election I have worked hard to limit any additional expenses from being incurred outside of the existing budget, often denying very worthwhile expenditures - Internet access at the Community Center and a needed raise for the City Electric Dept works being two examples. In these lean times, I think it is even more my duty to be a good steward of the taxpayers money. This year again the City will face some hard and painful choices, but I pledge to do my best to make the most of the funds entrusted by the taxpayers of Nixa to their City Council.

Back To Work...

I have been remiss in my postings over the last couple months. June was a busy month in the city government, with 2 planning and zoning meetings and 2 City Council meetings. To see my thoughts on the Highland Ridge Re-zoning issue, take a look at my editorial in the NixaXPress (See Highland Ridge East Rezoning). July also had 2 City Council meetings, due to some incorrect paperwork. I will try in the future to better keep my promise to inform the public as to the less visible issues facing our city.

There have been a couple of recent items that I feel will be important to Nixa residents as we move forward.

Utility Bill Deposits

Back in May, City Council was asked to waive the utility deposit for the new Bandana's BBQ Restaurant (see My First No Vote). At that time I voted against waiving that deposit, not because I did not want a new yummy BBQ restaurant and more tax dollars in Nixa, but because I thought it was not fair to past and future businesses and homeowners who would be required to pay this deposit. At that time I tasked city staff with coming up with some better rules that would create a level playing field for all new businesses. Recently, staff came back with some suggestions.

  • Waive Utility Deposits for businesses that own their business's building
  • Waive Utility Deposits for businesses and residents who 1) sign-up for direct withdrawal of utility bill payments and 2) provide a letter of good standing from their prior utility vendor
  • Once the city's new utility billing software is in place, to apply a business's or resident's current deposit to their bill if they have their account in good standing for 12 months
  • In the future, also allow business's and resident's that lease, and have their accounts in good standing, to apply their deposits to their utility bill

This could mean, in the next couple of years, a return of over $250,000 currently held by the city, back to residents and businesses of Nixa. With upcoming rate increases from Springfield City Utilities that will have to be passed on, this will at least give something back to our taxpayers.

Paperless Board Meetings

As a technology junkie, this one is near and dear to me. In a move to reduce staff time, paper use, and to provide more information to the public, the Nixa City Council has instituted paperless board meetings. All documents that council members have previously received in a hard copy binder, are now available on the city website ( On this page you will see complete documentation for all agenda items for the prior 2 council meetings. For those council members and residents who would like the info in hard copy, that can still be provided by the City Clerk's office.

Some upcoming items that I will be focusing on...

City Budget

That time of year when we balance the city's needs versus its resources. There has been some discussion recently regarding needing to raise taxes to meet these needs (Need for Higher Taxes?). I don't think we have done enough with the resources we have yet to ask for more. I will work to provide out of the box solution and strict financial discipline to the city's budget.

Community Forum/Infrastructure Improvements

To help in the city budget process, Nixa will be holding a Community Forum on Thursday, August 26th at 6:30. This will be a time for interested citizens to see how the city government prioritizes important improvements, what improvements are on the radar, and to help add to and prioritize those items.

If you would like to attend, please contact me at and I will get you more information.

Better Enforcement of Speed Limit on Cross Streets

With school starting, I will be working to get better signage and enforcement of speed limits in Nixa's District 3. With 3 schools and a series of residential streets (Dustin, Pembrook, Vintage and Butterfield) that act as raceways about 2:30-3:30 every afternoon. I want to standardize signage and make sure our children are safe on their way home from school.

Snow Route Review

Ok, ok, it's a 99 outside in the shade, but soon it will be time again for the plows to hit the streets. I am going to ask the city to review current snow routes and see if we can do a better job of having the plows find our houses.

Highland Ridge East Rezoning

As seen in the July 9th, 2010 Nixa Xpress...

After some reflection, I have decided that I did a disservice to residents that attended the June 21st meeting of the Nixa City Council that held a public hearing on the rezoning of the Highland Ridge East subdivision. Not a disservice in that I made the wrong decision, or that I did not spend enough time reviewing the facts, but that I did not layout my reasoning for those who, for almost 4 hours, so passionately provide their perspective to me.

I will start by saying that I had not made a decision before that night. I was in a dilemma. I am against rezoning in general. People invest in their homes with a specific set of rules in place. But, I also strongly believe in property owner's rights. I will always weigh-in on the side of freedom when it comes to government's intrusion on our rights and property.

In this case these two principals were in direct contradiction. The members of the surrounding subdivisions purchased their homes with a certain future in mind, while the developers felt a different use was more practical due to current financial conditions. Without a deciding principal to direct me, I did as I often do - I made a list. A list of the reasons for and against the issue. Then, as I listened to the developers and the public I tried to find truth in what was presented to support or reject those items.

My list of reasons for rezoning was short and to the point; it would provide new development in Nixa, that there is a need for affordable senior housing, the project would generate additional tax revenues for the city and that it would further the completion of Old Castle Road.

Throughout the discussions I heard nothing to make me reject any of these. Both sides, with some difference as to degree, agreed that these facts were true. That being said, I didn't find any of these as an overwhelmingly compelling reason to vote in favor of the rezoning.

The reasons against rezoning were more complex. Many of these - from charges of outright corruption against city government, to paperwork snafus at City Hall - just clouded the real issues. After sifting through them, I came up with 3 that I felt had true merit.

Increased traffic on Old Castle Road

The fact is that road was designed to handle the complete development of everything in the northeast Nixa. This minor zoning change wouldn't change that. Plus, further development of Old Castle to CC will bring us closer to resolving many traffic issues in that area.

Government subsidized housing would increase crime and lower property values

The problem with this point is that the developers can, and already have, built lesser value homes in that area. There are already numerous multi-family properties and zonings closer to most of the neighbors, along with lower valued sub-divisions than the one proposed. Furthermore, Nixa is made up of many different types of people. I will never be one to say that a group of citizens, based off only socio-economic status, is better or worse than another.

Not what the homeowners were promised

Over the last 20 years developers have often taken advantage of Nixa. But this lead me to the most compelling reason for voting yes. Consider what might happen to the Columns if PGH fails? They could scrap the covenants and build anything in those neighborhoods. Housing prices and quality would suffer. By making these changes in a separate subdivision, this allows the Columns to be kept whole and protects those who have invested there.

The most distressing thing I heard was that we were not listening to the people. I know that I did listened to the people of Nixa. Those that live in that area and those that don't. I spent hours on the phone, reviewing emails and talking to people. What I heard was it "sounds bad" in the paper and on the news. But, I also heard that most trusted me and the other council members to get the complete information and make the best decision for everyone - and that is what I believe we did.

Agenda for June 16th Council Meeting

If you have any questions or thoughts related to any of these issues please let me know.

Call to Order
Roll Call
Pledge of Allegiance
  • Approval of Minutes
  • Approval of Financial Report
Visitors: Kevin Mueller

  • Bill #2010-61 Amending Chapter 2, Section 2-64 Order of Business
  • Bill #2010-62 Authorizing the Mayor to sign an agreement with ExteNet Inc., for pole connection
  • Bill #2010-63 Annual renewal of Lease Purchase on original loan for Park Land Projects Series 1997A
  • Bill #2010-64 Amending Chapter 23, Section 23-322-1 Signs Off- Premises
Discussion Items:
  • Budget Amendment for $12,750.00 on Dog Pound
  • Budget Amendment for $5,000 - Installation ofWI-FI to Community Center
  • Garda Cash Logistics Truck Donation Program
  • Stand-by Policy
  • Wastewater repairs and rehabilitation
  • Missouri Safe Routes to School Program
Informational Items:
  • Building Permits
  • Police Report
  • June Sales Tax Report & Budget Comparison
  • March & April Court Reports
Mayor and Council Member Reports


My First "No" Vote

As I look back on my first month as City Councilman, I think I have learned something. While we might sometimes differ on the path, I think all the members of the council almost always agree on the destination. This leads to a lot of consensus and an amazing amount of "Yes" votes. Of the 40+ votes that I have cast in my 3 council meetings, I have only cast 1 "No" vote.

Even in this case it was not result that I questioned - waving a utility deposit for a new business locating in Nixa - just the way we were doing it. I don't think we can make ad-hoc decisions that affect people's lives or businesses. We live in a nation of laws, and it works best when everyone knows the rules and everyone plays by them. If it is in that business's best interest, and the city's best interest, to waive the fee, then it is probably also in a lot of other people's best interest to waive their fees as well. If that is so, then we need to change the rule, not just ignore it in certain cases.

I have also learned there are a few big issues that those in community see - fireworks, rezoning - but many, many more that just go by without recognition. I will leave it to our friends in the press to inform you on the big stuff, and I will try though this medium to let you in on some of the smaller - but also important - items.


One of my key objectives is to improve communication between City Government and the community

Website Redesign Committee - The council formed a committee to revamp the city's website. The committee is made up of Councilman Vogel, city staff, and other community members. Hopefully, this will be a start to better interaction and communication between city government and the community.

City Rules of Order - Ever been to a Council Meeting? It's a little confusing - even to me. That is why the council has moved to formalize the rules of order for the meeting. If you have been to a meeting, it was probably the first - and very likely the last - time. This is why I have asked staff to make a handout available at all council meetings that will outline the rules that are followed.

Public Safety

The city's key responsibility is to provide for the public safety of its residents

McGruff House Program - With the cuts facing the school district, it will become more of a city responsibility to provide for the safety of children on the way to and from school. As part of this the city is working on a "walking school bus" program. Along with that, I have suggested we incorporate the national "McGruff Safe House" program, creating safe havens for children in their communities.

Fiscal Responsibility

As councilman, it is my key duty to be good steward of the residents' tax dollars.

3rd Party Fraud Hotline - City workers will soon have access to a 3rd party "Fraud Hotline" that will allow them to report, without fear of retribution, any fraud or theft that they see within city government. Hopefully this will allow us to catch issues before they become issues.

High Pointe Water Tower contract - We really didn't have much to do with it, but I still think it is pretty cool. We were able to get a contract for the construction of this water tower using funds on hand - no borrowing - and at $300,000+ below budget.