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The Lake News Online
  • April election: Meet the candidates for Osage Beach Mayor

  • Voters in Osage Beach will elect a mayor in the April 8 election. Longtime incumbent Penny Lyons has filed for election and is challenged by W.W. Bill Stone. Here, the candidates address the future of Osage Beach.
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  • Voters in Osage Beach will elect a mayor in the April 8 election. Longtime incumbent Penny Lyons has filed for election and is challenged by W.W. Bill Stone. Here, the candidates address the future of Osage Beach.
    *Editor’s Note: Candidates were given a word limit to adhere to. Answers were not altered in any way.
    1. Please give us a little bit about yourself including background, education, public service, volunteer work and of course, your family.
    Penny Lyons: Our family moved to the lake 43 years ago. We owned and operated several small businesses. My two sons are graduates of the School of the Osage. After a 30-year break, I returned to college and finished my bachelor’s degree. Mayor Martin asked me to serve on the city’s Planning and Zoning. In 1997, I ran for alderman in Ward I. During my second term, I ran for the office of mayor. After winning that office in 2000, I have been re-elected for the next six terms. I continue to represent the city on P&Z, the Joint Sewer Board, Local Council of Governments and Solid Waste District T.
    W.W. "Bill" Stone: Could not be reached for comment
    2. Why do you want to be the Osage Beach mayor?
    Lyons: Being mayor of Osage Beach has been challenging and rewarding. During the last 14 years, we have installed citywide potable water and fire suppression. We also built two new water towers to ensure sufficient capacity. We were able to finalize sewer connections to several unserved areas. Streetlights were installed on Highway 54 in four stages. They improved the safety of our main road.
    A 20-year goal of improving the traffic congestion by working with the state was completed in 2013. With the Expressway, we now have the ability to detour traffic, facilitate thru truck traffic and open up more areas for future development. As mayor, I would continue to work on our infrastructure to provide quality services to residents.
    Stone: Could not be reached for comment
    3. As mayor, what are the three biggest challenges facing the city of Osage Beach in the near future?
    Lyons: In 2015, when the design for the Parkway Extension is completed, we will be challenged to find alternate sources to replace cost-share that has been suspended. Connecting to the Y Road interchange will provide another safe access to and from the west. The Parkway extension will remove a dead end and provide an outer road for safer access to businesses.
    Another challenge is maintaining a very extensive pressurized sewer system. Annual upgrades and maintenance will provide consistent service and costs to the users. The city subsidizes part of the utility rate with its capital improvement tax.
    Page 2 of 3 - Over 100,000 weekend visitors increase demands on our public safety, ambulance infrastructure, airports and parks. We provide quality services for this influx of tourists.
    Stone: Could not be reached for comment
    4. What are your goals as mayor for the city?
    Lyons: A major goal for the last 14 years has been to diversity the revenue income for the city. Dependence on summer tourism alone made it difficult to budget. When we improved our infrastructure, more retailer located in Osage Beach. As a retail destination, people spend the day shopping, eating and return home that night. The sales tax income has expanded during the year.
    Pursuing grants in my city departments has expanded our revenue. The airports have grants for maintenance and expansion. Public safety has grants for police protection. The new sidewalks include grant funds. We have received donations for the parks. The Special Road District provides funds to upgrade many of our city roads. We also have franchise income for the use of our right of ways.
    Stone: Could not be reached for comment
    5. Do you favor Tax Increment Financing as a tool to encourage businesses to locate in Osage Beach?
    Lyons: Tax Increment Financing is a state tool used by developers. The city and the affected taxing entities met and developed a TIF policy. It requires an escrow deposit from the applicant for any expenses incurred because of the request. It also outlines the process and requirements.
    Both the Prewitt’s Point and the Dierbergs TIF have improved properties in the city. Prewitt’s Point also brought utilities to the Osage School and a third lane to Highway 42. The city does not use the TIF as a tool to encourage businesses to locate in Osage Beach. These are developer driven.
    The increased assessed valuation on improved property and increased sales tax are divided (usually by half) and 50 percent of the increase goes to the taxing entities. We encourage TIFs to have a short term. The process requires board and TIF commission approval. It also has a public comment process.
    Stone: Could not be reached for comment
    6. Final thoughts:
    Lyons: The board of aldermen has approved a conservative budget for 2014. The water and sewer accounts have 27 percent of the budget. Transportation will see 13 percent. Public safety receives almost half of the 238 percent allocated to the general fund. The city is committed to maintaining and improving its assets. The board of aldermen also understands that the stability of the city attracts new businesses and relocating families.
    Please take time to vote on April 8 in Osage Beach and continue to make this a great place to work, live and retire.
    Page 3 of 3 - Stone: Could not be reached for comment

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