Lake Ozark Economic Development
City of Lake Ozark Update
New City Administrator David Mitchem has officially completed his first week at City Hall. Monday morning Mitchem and Assistant City Administrator Harrison Fry met with Mayor Newberry to discuss numerous objectives.
Discussion regarding public works expansion of Sewer and Water on the North Shore into areas within the city that have never had city services took place. The sewer project is scheduled to be started in 2022 and water extensions into Overlook Point could soon follow should the citizens within that subdivision support the expansion.
The 2022 proposed city budget is on track to be approved by Dec 14th. One last change to the budget was that of the city Inspector pay schedule. Currently, the vacant position starts out in the low $30k range. The Board of Alderman’s recent approval to increase the salary to nearly $40k will help the city attract a qualified candidate for that position, a task that has proven difficult to do with the previous pay scale.
When asked about the announcement of the Osage Nation proposed Casino/Hotel Development in Lake Ozark, Mayor Newberry was cautiously guarded. Newberry stated that Casino efforts in our communities have been sought after since he moved to the Lake area in the early 1990’s. Although not surprising to him that the effort continues, he says he was “totally blindsided by the announcement and had very little information to form an opinion.” Newberry stated he had met with an attorney and a PR firm representing the Osage Nation and that he looked forward to learning more about the project soon. Mayor Newberry stated that at a certain point when he is confident the stars are in alignment and the project has a clear path of moving forward, he would hope that he and Chief Standing Bear could work together so the citizens of Lake Ozark whom he works for may help influence the outcome of the project.
With the assistance of Assistant City Administrator Harrison Fry, Mayor Newberry successfully renegotiated the City of Lake Ozark’s sanitation contract with service provider GFL back in June of this year. The renegotiated contract has sat on former administrator Dave VanDee’s desk for months with no support. The new contract is an 18 month extension of the existing contract with a savings of $100k to the city on an annual basis according to Solid Waste Administrator Derrick Standley. Standley who the Mayor stated “really made this happen” stepped into the meeting to discuss the implementation of the renegotiated contract. The contract was not well received by the former City Administrator VanDee who believed the city would be at risk of Non paying commercial customers. In contrast, Newberry suggested, “the city should be run like a business and businesses have risk, you develop ways of minimizing risk and move forward.” One way the Mayor says the risk is minimal is to bill in advance and charge an increased deposit on commercial accounts only. Mayor Newberry also noted historic data shows very little nonpayment or written-off expenses related to commercial trash services. This new contract comes with much more than a cost savings, it implements a green component by adding recoverable’s (glass recycling) and works on relocating some of the unsightly and overflowing trash dumpsters located along Bagnell Dam Blvd. Mayor Newberry said “this new contract has sat wanting for approval for far too long. GFL has given me notice if we don’t act now the renegotiated contract will no longer be considered due to increased costs. I want this done now said Newberry.” Mayor Newberry noted that some components of this objective will require statute revisions however he is confident the board will get behind this.
Mayor Newberry has expressed one of his most important objectives is to see Lake Ozark’s streets compared to those in the adjacent Village of Four Seasons where the Mayor resided for many years prior to moving into Lake Ozark. According to the Mayor, Mitchem and Fry are very supportive of finding revenue for repairing the city’s aging streets. Collectively they are adding revenue streams from existing sources and newly created revenues to give the city the bonding capacity needed. Mayor Newberry has had multiple meetings with project engineers to identify priorities, met with legislators to seek state and federal funding and had multiple meetings with municipal financing companies to finance the road projects the City of Lake Ozark will be bringing forward in the future. Mayor Newberry said he has “asked much of David Mitchem” to which Mitchem replied, “it’s going to be fun.” With the new blood of Newberry, Mitchem and Fry who are willing to move at a pace that mirrors the recent growth Lake Ozark has experienced, and an economy screaming ahead it is a comforting feeling to know our leadership is willing to stay in front of it and lead.