by: Scott McCaulley (Additional Reporting by Chrystal Blair, Ozarks First)

The Branson Board of Alderman continue to be divided on the timing of the work on the Highway 76 Project to move utilities underground.

At last week’s meeting, Alderman once again had a First Reading on a Bill that would amend the current Budget to adjust monies for the Tourism and Capital Projects Funds to move forward on the project. Alderman Larry Milton, who had previously voted against it, switched his vote to yes, stating he had studied the City’s Finances and seen things were in better shape that he previously thought. He did ask the Board to consider a Resolution agreeing only to minor increases as needed in the City’s Water and Sewer Rates. The First Reading passed on a 4-2 vote with Kevin McConnell and Rick Castillon still voting no.

After the First Reading, Alderman Bill Skains made a motion to have the Bill move forward to a Second Reading which several of the Alderman including Milton objected to. The motion to allow a Second Reading passed 4-3 with Mayor Edd Akers breaking the tie, but when the vote came up for the official Second Reading, both Castillon and Milton abstained which denied the motion the four yes votes needed so the bill goes back to square one.

In a report put together by Ozarks First, Chrystal Blair visits with Alderman Kevin McConnell as well as City Administrator Stan Dobbins.

McConnell says it’s not that he’s against moving the overhead utilities underground, it’s the timing and the funding.

“Do I want underground utilities? Absolutely,” McConnell said. “Does everyone on the board want to..I believe so. The question is, do we do it now? Is it the best use of arguably over 2 million dollars.”

Dobbins says the 1.9 million dollars generated from a tourism tax must be used for infrastructure.

The board is expected to take the issue up again at the next Alderman meeting next Tuesday.

Click here for Ozarks First Report.