All department heads were present for last Thursday's evening meeting joined by Branson's Board of Alderman and a five member team from the Taney County Health Department.
During a meeting where fee increases were discussed last month, it was revealed that Mayor Raeanne Presley unilaterally promised $800,000 to the Taney County Health Department without Board of Alderman nor city officials approval. After a brief correction from the city administrator and city finance department correcting Presley on false statements made regarding the expense, a debate ensued. While Branson's alderman generally agreed that the Health Department needed to be fully funded through a verbal consensus there were protests and prompting to the department that action needed to be taken towards economic independence.Alderman Sandra Williams was the most outspoken on the issue eventually ceding to her personal belief that maintaining a strong health department was vital to the community.
Citizen surveys designed to create "buy in" for increased spending were met with mild protest as well. An estimated $250,000 in political survey contracts were penned in 2010 and an additional $27,000 expense was challenged by Alderman Cris Bohinc (see video above).
everal line item expenses have been creatively altered from 2007-2009 descriptions requiring further investigation into what some line items are actually describing.
The trend of a litigious administration appears to be continuing as alderman estimated between $400,000 and $500,000 will be used to battle citizens and business partners in court. The number will likely rise if Mayor Presley continues to violate the premises of the Sunshine Law.
A contract based on consideration, a capped $8.24 per visitor fee to the Branson Airport will not be funded in the initial budget. There were hints that the obligation might be funded later and the maneuver of not allocating the funds are tied to a continuing court battle. When the contract was inked Presley was a member of a competing airport's board of directors and some speculate the action is designed to intentionally cause bankruptcy to the Branson airport who agreed to build an international airport based on the city of Branson initiating a pay per customer deal. Presley's inconsistency on the issue is demonstrated by National Public Radio's (NPR) story on the Airport . Presley's statements about the Branson Airport are posted below:
"Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley says she considers it to be a win-win for the city.
Mayor RAEANNE PRESLEY (Branson, Missouri): It wasn't as though we said we'd write them a check and see how it all worked out. If they bring passengers here, then we pay for those"
While Presley hasn't revealed how much of nearly $1.7 in legal counsel is being 'allocated to battle the written agreement, legal entanglements against private entities are at an all time high.
While a 20 year plan is being developed to defray administrative liberty for a future generation Presley claims it is unfair for a part administration to bind the financial activity of a future administration.
Presley's activities are not without virtue or economic development; pro-environmental policies, funding for aesthetic improvements and a business venture (possible aquarium) which will pull people closer to her private theater are also being discussed.