1. Please provide some background including education, employment, family, experience, etc.
My name is Judy Neels. It’s been my honor to represent the residents and businesses in Ward One. My husband Jim and I have been married for 52 years. We had two daughters,Melissa and Becky. Tragically, Becky passed two years ago this March. Our amazing daughter Melissa became the guardian for our very special grandson Jackson. We were part-time lake residents for 30 years. Jim and I moved to Lake Ozark in 2005. I grew up in St. Louis and have a background in education. I attended Forest Park Community College and received Early Childhood Certificates from Meramec Community College. I taught preschool for 11 years prior to being a teacher assistant and substitute for Special School District of St.Louis County. I occasionally subbed for Special Services at School of the Osage. I have served on the Budget Committee, Planning and Zoning Commission, Joint Sewer Board with Osage Beach, and was past Chairman of the Utility Commission.
2. Why do you think you can represent the voters in your ward better than your opponent?
My priority is to listen to constituents in Ward One. I value their opinions. I approach the position of Alderman with experience, fairness, and transparency. I will continue representing everyone in the city equally.
3. What specific issues within Lake Ozark need to be addressed within the next two years?
a. I support the Revitalization of “Bagnell Dam Strip” along with other areas in the city. We should showcase the aesthetics of our city to visitors and especially our “locals”.
b. Lake Ozark should support economic growth and job creation by continuing work with major developers and encourage residential and commercial investors while protecting and highlighting our unique environment.
c. Roads will continue to be an important topic of discussion. For many years history repeated itself. Revenues were slow and road maintenance was difficult. Now, the city has a few more
options. Lake Ozark must determine which combination of funding will be used.
d. A few years ago, my priority was to maintain and try to expand city infrastructure. Today, we still have sections of the city not connected to sewer and water systems.
4. In 2019, the city contracted a company to conduct a study of street improvement needs. The most visible was Bagnell Dam Blvd. Four years later, some street improvement needs are being addressed, The Strip has not. What can be done to fix Bagnell Dam Blvd., and do you think it should be a priority?
(see (c.) in 3.) Bagnell Dam Blvd. is the main artery in Lake Ozark’s road system. The “strip” cannot be the first priority. The city also has high traffic, deteriorating roads and others requiring frequent maintenance. The city must pursue all possible funding available. Restoration of Bagnell Dam Blvd. could possibly be completed in stages. The total funds required would be in the millions of dollars. The “strip” project and crucial road construction projects can be accomplished at the same time if they are funded separately. 5. Dozens of residents have stated during meetings and through other sources that they are opposed to opening the city to vacation/nightly rentals, reversing a long-standing ordinance limiting such rentals to R-3 districts. Despite public opinion, the board of aldermen voted to eliminate restrictions. What is your opinion?
I voted against repealing sections 405.040, 405.100, and 405.120 of the city’s code. Nightly and Weekly Rentals were prohibited in Residential Zones R1 and R2. This was addressed again in 2013 after citizen complaints of rental disasters. “The owners had opened their quiet neighborhood to people who are often loud, show no respect for other residents, leave trash on the ground after leaving, and generate more traffic.” I only became aware the mayor was placing a bill repealing Nightly and Weekly Rentals on the Wednesday, Nov.2 Planning and Zoning agenda after it was mentioned in a conversation with City Administrator Fry on Friday 28. I informed Chairman Davis and we began making phone calls. More than 50 residents showed up to share their disapproval. One person spoke in favor. The item was tabled until the next meeting. The crowd at the Dec.7 meeting increased. This meeting was different! Citizens were there to speak against the change. Non-resident Realtors and other business owners came to lecture Lake Ozark residents about the positive outcomes of “Vacation Rentals”. Planning and Zoning approved to move the ordinance forward to the board by a 5 to 2 vote. Initially the reason for repealing the ordinance was the possibility of making hundreds of thousands of dollars from permits or fees and taxes to help fund road projects. City Administrator Fry spoke with the Missouri Department of Revenue. Lake Ozark would not be collecting taxes from rental agencies or individuals. There is no legal requirement for either to submit taxes to the city. “Vacation Rentals” will be allowed without guidelines, restrictions, or monetary benefits.
6. What can the city do to encourage the development of more affordable housing?
We need affordable housing in the future for individuals and families who want to live and work in Lake Ozark. The problem is that wages have not kept pace with the rise in housing costs. It can be difficult to rent in the city if you’re not making enough money. We need to encourage and support companies offering adequate wages. Developers also must be able to recoup their expenses while building housing communities.
7. Provide any additional information you feel would help voters make an informed decision.
I would like to continue representing my constituents. The voters will decide who they want to speak for them and defend their interests. Thank you “ Ward One” for your encouragement and support.
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