“Axe the Food Tax” effort in Kansas is on track

TOPEKA, Kan. – On Friday, Governor Luara Kelly announced Kansas is on track to implement ‘Axe the Food Tax.’

Lawmakers passed the bill during the 2022 session.

This bill eliminates the state sales tax on:

  • Groceries
  • Diapers
  • feminine hygiene products

“We have ‘Axed the Food Tax’ and are putting money back in Kansans’ pockets,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Kansans will see the savings very soon, but we can do more. When the Kansas Legislature comes back in January, I will push again for the complete and immediate elimination of the state’s sales tax on groceries.”

House Bill 2106 will gradually eliminate the state’s sales tax on groceries. The first reduction of the tax rate will occur on January 1, 2023, changing the state sales tax rate on groceries from 6.5% to 4.0%. Current legislation will completely eliminate the state’s sales tax on groceries by 2025. Local tax rates still apply.

The Department has formally posted its informational notice and sales tax publication, which address the state sales tax rate reduction and the kinds of food purchases covered by the rate reduction.

“Even after providing the educational materials and opportunities as it rolls out these changes, KDOR continues to be available to retailers to ensure the transition to these sales tax savings is as smooth as possible,” Revenue Secretary Mark Burghart said.

Related article:

Missouri announces Career & Technical Education Grants for local institutions

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education awarded several local Career and Technical Education programs with grant funding.

Officials say the support will help ensure that Missouri students are prepared for success upon graduation and further contribute to developing Missouri’s workforce.

“Career and technical education are critical to our workforce development goals here in the State of Missouri,” Governor Parson said. “Every day the necessity for a post-secondary degree, trade, or industry-recognized credential is growing for good-paying jobs across the state, and we want to support Missourians as they seek to learn new skills, especially in our career and technical education programs.”

The following local institutions received funds:

  • Carthage Technical Center, Carthage, $400,000.00
  • Crowder College Technical Education Center, Neosho, $400,000.00
  • Franklin Technology Center, Joplin, $400,000.00
  • Lamar Career & Technical Center, Lamar, $323,500.00
  • Nevada Regional Technical Center, Nevada, $400,000.00

Institutions selected will use the funding for the following areas:

• Create new high-demand and emerging programs
• Construct a new area career center building
• Renovate or build an addition to an existing area career center
• Update or expand current CTE programs
• Improve infrastructure for safety and equipment needs
• Upgrade equipment and instructional technology

Watch KOAM & Fox 14 to see the whole story or check back later for additional content.


BBB gives tips for Giving Tuesday donations

PITTSBURG, Kan. – The Better Business Bureau is encouraging donors to give to charities as part of their holiday preparations.

Because tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, the BBB is offering tips to help residents give wisely.

“Try to go with an organization that you recognize,” said Pamela Hernandez with the BBB. ” Sometimes intentionally or not, charities will pick a name that’s similar to a well-known charity. That could be an indication of a scam or just could be somebody with good intentions who went the wrong way and didn’t do their research.”

Officials say to never succumb to reassure by giving up money on the spot and to ask for more information if needed.

Follow these tips:

  1. Don’t assume that charity size and regional scope signal trustworthiness. 67 percent of survey respondents said they trust local charities more than national and 62 percent trust small organizations more than large ones. In BBB’s Give.org experience, however, charities of all sizes and scope can demonstrate good and bad accountability practices.
  2. Don’t assume verifying trust is easy. The Give.org Donor Trust Report shows that younger generations are more likely than older donors to believe that verifying trust is easy and can be accomplished by examining the charity’s appeal alone. Verifying charity trustworthiness is more complex. Donors are encouraged to check out charities at Give.org to verify if they meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability which address charity governance, finances, results reporting and solicitation practices.
  3. Don’t rely on stories and passion alone in assessing trust. The survey results also indicate that 46 percent of Generation Z (ages 18 and 19) and 32 percent of Millennials (ages 20-36) tend to attribute trust to those organizations that demonstrate more apparent passion and sincerity in the appeal. In BBB’s Give.org view, such indicators are not a reliable means to verify trust and could lead younger donors vulnerable to questionable solicitations.
  4. Don’t focus excessively on financial ratios. While financial ratios are an important part of a charity’s overall picture, excessive focus on low overhead spending can be misguided and potentially harmful to an organization’s capacity for service. Consider a more comprehensive view of a charity’s activities in order to make a wise giving decision.

Click here to learn more.

Joplin businesses help raise funds for a local Humane Society

JOPLIN, Mo. – Local businesses are banding together to help raise funds for the Joplin Humane Society.

Local artist Eric Haun created customized ornaments and each one costs $10.

The ‘Heart Joplin’ ornaments are available for purchase at local shops like:

  • Academy Animal Hospital
  • Blue Moon Boutique Joplin
  • Joplin Humane Society
  • The Wild Flower

“So each wooden heart ornament is a donation of 10 dollars, and all of those proceeds go directly to the shelter, that money will be used to take care of the nearly 10 thousand homeless animals that come through our doors each year.”

Click here to learn more.

Watch KOAM & Fox 14 to see the whole story or check back later for additional video content.

Spire customers to see slight rate increase on natural gas

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI –  Spire customers will see a rate increase in natural gas costs.

According to the Missouri Public Service Commission, the price increase reflects the estimated changes in the wholesale cost of natural gas and a change in the company’s Actual Cost Adjustment (ACA) factor.

“Spire East residential customers currently pay approximately $0.60 per Ccf (per hundred cubic feet) of natural gas. Under this filing, the rate will increase to approximately $0.71 per Ccf.

Spire West residential customers currently pay approximately $0.79 per Ccf of natural gas. Under this filing, the rate will increase to approximately $0.92 per Ccf.” – Missouri Public Service Commission

The rate change starts on November 29, 2022.

The Commission says the cost of natural gas from wholesale suppliers generally makes up about 50% to 55% of a customer’s total monthly natural gas bill.

“The wholesale cost of natural gas (the cost your local natural gas company must pay to its suppliers for natural gas) is not regulated by the Missouri Public Service Commission. The wellhead cost of natural gas is unregulated and is primarily driven by supply, demand and the weather.”

The Missouri Public Service Commission says it does conduct an annual regulatory review to ensure that regulated natural gas companies make prudent decisions in securing natural gas supplies for their customers.

Additional Information About ACA

The ACA factor is a mechanism that tracks any over-collection or under-collection of actual natural gas costs over a 12-month period. The net over- or under-collected balances are subsequently either refunded or collected the next year. That’s according to the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Managing Your Utility Bill

The Commission gives the following tips for residents to help manage their utility bills.

  • Add attic insulation if necessary.
  • Place weather stripping around doors, use plastic film covering and caulk windows to keep heat from escaping from your home.
  • Change or replace furnace filters each month when dirty.
  • Have your chimney checked for blockage.
  • Close fireplace dampers when the fireplace is not being used.
  • Have your heating system checked and tuned-up if needed.
  • Place an approved insulated cover-jacket around the hot water heater.
  • Consider getting professional help for any projects that are beyond your capabilities.
  • Contact your local utility company to ask about energy saving tips and programs.

Customers Impacted

Spire East provides natural gas service to about 662,800 customers in the City of St. Louis as well as the Missouri counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Butler, Iron, Franklin, Jefferson,
Madison, Crawford, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve.

Spire West provides natural gas service to approximately 532,900 customers in Andrew, Barry, Barton, Bates, Buchanan, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Dade, DeKalb, Greene, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, McDonald, Moniteau, Pettis, Platte, Ray, Saline, Stone and Vernon counties.

Spire expands DollarHelp funding, customer eligibility

Southwest Missouri (KOAM) – More Spire customers are now eligible to get help with natural gas bills. The company is making those and other changes to help residents struggling with inflation and rising costs.

The company is expanding eligibility requirements for its DollarHelp Program. It’s also increasing the maximum total annual DollarHelp pledge amount from $700 to $1,000.

The program opens today, Nov. 21, 2022.

What’s the DollarHelp Program?

Now managed through the United Way, DollarHelp allows Spire customers to donate $1, monthly, to help other customers in need of assistance with their natural gas bills.

Spire created the DollarHelp program in 1982, as part of the company’s commitment to providing resources for customers with limited incomes in the communities it serves. Spire, in collaboration with its customers, provides funding to the program on an annual basis.

Spire is also providing an additional $100,000 to support the program this year.

The DollarHelp program aims to help customers who may not qualify for assistance through federal and state programs.

Eligibility Changes for DollarHelp Program

Starting November 21, Spire is offering energy assistance to customers whose household incomes are up to 300% of the federal poverty level.

For their customers in Missouri and Alabama, Spire will expand the eligibility for DollarHelp to include individuals and families with household incomes at or below 300% of the federal poverty level (FPL), up from 150% in AL and 200% in MO.

“Prices for nearly everything have increased – from groceries to transportation,” said Christopher Gagliano, vice president of customer experience for Spire. “This additional funding and these important changes to DollarHelp support the needs of our customers who may not qualify for assistance through federal and state programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP, but who still need our support. We understand that our customers are facing challenges, and we’re here to help.”

In the fiscal year 2022, Spire says it helped connect customers with more than $27 million in federal, state and Spire energy assistance funding.

More Information, How to Apply

You can find more information, how to donate and how to apply here. Spire says you can also contact one of its customer service specialists.

In western Missouri, we serve all areas and communities served in Andrew, Barry, Barton, Buchanan, Carroll, Cass. Cedar, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Cooper, Dade, DeKalb, Greene, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, McDonald, Moniteau, Newton, Pettis, Platte Ray, Saline, Stone, and Vernon Counties.

Mental health center awarded $10,000 in Riverton, Kan.

TOPEKA, Kan. – A Riverton organization has been awarded a grant from the Tower Foundation to support mental health services, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.

Spring River Mental Health and Wellness Center was awarded $10,000 to assist with the transition to and/or implementation of requirements for the new designation of being a certified community behavioral health clinic (CCBHC).

The CCBHC model is being implemented in Kansas and will provide more resources to participating clinics and improve the care the clinics are able to provide to Kansas citizens.

The Tower Mental Health Foundation of Kansas was created as a result of an agreement between the attorney general’s office and the Menninger Foundation in 2007.

It offers support to organizations that provide mental health services in Kansas

Click here to learn more.

Local rotary club hosts annual Phonathon for the Lord’s Diner

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Pittsburg Noon Rotary club members today called on the community to help raise funds for The Lord’s Diner of Pittsburg.

This annual event asks residents to pledge or donate to the diner which provides nutritious meals to anyone in need.

All donations benefit the Diner, which now operates out of a food truck to better serve the community.

“The spirit of the cross section of people that come together to work on the Phonathon under Rotary’s leadership is consistent with the history of Pittsburg – a place where people have always come together from all walks of life, different religions and different professions to take care of others,” Rotarian Joe Dellasega said. “The response and collaboration with the Phonathon is inspiring…a true testament to the people that have chosen to call Pittsburg ‘home’.”

The Lord’s Diner serves healthy meals 365 days a year with roughly 300 meals served daily.

Officials with the non-profit say donations make this possible.

Click here to learn more, or donate here.


Fairview, Mo. Audit: Improper use of City funds, conflicts of interest

FAIRVIEW, Mo. – The Missouri Auditor gives the City of Fairview a “Poor” rating for its overall performance.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway started the audit in 2021 at the request of the City’s residents. They requested the audit through the petition process.

“My audits examine how public resources are used, detail any concerns about how government operates and make recommendations on how taxpayers can be better served,” Auditor Galloway said.

Under Missouri law, the State Auditor’s office may be called on to audit a political subdivision of the state if enough qualified voters of that entity request the audit. The petition audit from Fairview residents required 67 signatures.

In her audit of the City of Fairland, Galloway found overpayments, improper use of City funds and conflicts of interest.

“The former City Clerk was overpaid $3,351, and the Board improperly spent $120,252 of restricted funds from a city trust fund. The city paid $17,325 to a business that a former Mayor managed and owned in violation of city code related to conflicts of interest, and some of the checks issued to the former Mayor’s business were dated prior to the date of the related invoice,” states the audit.

Other issues found include:

  • Lack of payroll controls and procedures
  • Not always soliciting bids or proposals as required by city code
  • Not always entering into written contracts
  • Making adjustments to customer accounts, including writing off charges caused by water leaks or incorrect meter readings, without obtaining independent approval or maintaining adequate documentation to support the reason for the adjustment
  • Not adequately monitoring budget-to-actual receipts and disbursements
  • The Board didn’t comply with the Sunshine Law for 7 out of 8 closed meetings in 2020
  • Lack of maintaining records for capital assets

You can read the full audit report, including other issues found, below. Or, click here.

If you would like to provide information for consideration in any audit, you can contact the State Auditor’s Whistleblower Hotline at moaudit@auditor.mo.gov or by calling 800-347-8597. You can also submit concerns anonymously online at auditor.mo.gov/hotline.

Fairview, Mo. Audit – Improper use of City funds, conflicts of interest

Joplin Fire Department awarded grant funding

JOPLIN, Mo. – Missouri American Water is proud to offer grant funding to the Joplin Fire Department as well as other stations across the state.

MAW named JFD one of 44 recipients to receive grant funding.

“We understand that funding for our local heroes can sometimes run short, and this year we’re proud to provide a record number of grants to support the life-saving work of our first responders,” said Rich Svindland, president of Missouri American Water. “Nothing is more important to us than safety, and we’re pleased to provide training and equipment that will enhance the safety of our first responders and the communities we serve.”

In total, MAW is giving away $53,000 to Missouri fire departments and emergency response organizations located in Missouri American Water’s service areas.

Officials say they have awarded nearly 200 grants since the program began in 2016.