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Joplin Council Directs Staff To Explore Some Options In Last Week's Budget Presentation

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

     Could there finally be a solution when it comes to the salary issues for Joplin police and firefighters?
     That depends on who you ask.  We did some asking today.

While no formal decisions were made at Monday's meeting - the council did point city staff in the direction they'd like to go.
One of those directions - included switching the public safety pension plan over to the LAGERS system - which is a statewide program.
The first obstacle for the city - to determine how to fund the closure of the existing plan - so, they turned to Springfield.
Sam Anselm, Joplin City Manager: "They faced a similar issue with their public safety pension plan and they actually put a tax increase to voters for 10 years to fund the closure of the plan."
But the LAGERS plan, isn't perfect, and it has pros and cons compared to the existing pension program available to police and fire personnel.
But for members of the Fraternal Order of Police, they have other concerns.
Tom Bowin, Fraternal Order of Police: "It's difficult to get excited about raises, when they're in no way defined, but what are defined, and very specifically spelled out, are things that are going to be taken away from officers that they have now."
We reached out to the Joplin Professional Firefighters Union, they couldn't speak to us on camera but did tells us they're ok with the options being explored for the pension plan, and even commended the staff for committing to maintaining four-man staffing at their stations.
However, they're cautiously optimistic and the most important thing they're looking for, is action.
The number of experienced officers available to patrol the streets of Joplin continues to dwindle as they find higher pay and better benefits in neighboring communities, in fact, this Friday, there will be one less experienced officer on the streets.
Bowin: "They simply want to go someplace where the citizens and the city place a value on their officers."
     Something else green-lighted last night was to have staff explore tax revenue options the city isn't currently taking advantage of.
 

Chris Warner
Reporter

A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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