I recently spoke to several community groups about our City’s growth, community workforce, and our role as a local employer in this region. This is valuable information to our community because as an employer, our role as the local government is to provide career awareness to the next generation of local government leaders and to maintain a competitive advantage for employees with up-to-date skills in the employment market. This is very important because we can’t run government services with short term employees. As it relates to our community workforce, as a community partner our role as the local government is to maintain relationships with our businesses; be the source of information; and to be the public partner with private and regional groups in bringing employers together, with educational institutions or other sources, to improve workers skills or prepare for the future skills that will be needed in our City and region.
The City of Osage Beach is the Heart of Lake of the Ozarks, voted Best Recreational Lake in 2015, and we are proud to be the retail hub of the Lake! The City sits in both Camden and Miller Counties and has a base population of 4,351. In addition to our base population, on any given weekend, our population has been estimated to be over 50,000+! As a lake community, our region’s economic drivers or top industries are tourism, retail/commercial, and healthcare. Secondary industries include education, construction, and some manufacturing.
As an employer, the City has 124 employees, and a FY2018 budget of nearly $29 million. The City is mainly supported by sales tax. The overall City Government Offices include Administration & Human Resources; City Clerk & Municipal Court; City Treasurer; City Attorney; Building Department; Planning and Zoning; and IT. The City provides services to support our residents and visitors, these include Police, Ambulance, 911 Communication Center (dispatch services), Parks and Recreation, and Public Works, which includes Water, Sewer, and Transportation. The City operates two municipal airports – Grand Glaize (runway of 3,206) and Lee C Fine, located within the Missouri State Park (runway of 6,497). Both airports serve a great economic purpose and cater to two diverse types of clientele not only for our community, but our region.
Osage Beach and our immediate lake region has seen significant population growth over the last several years. This has had little to do with natural growth (more births over death) but more significantly due to in-migration to the lake area. We have seen larger growth in retirees and empty-nesters, than growth with families. According to a recent Missouri Chamber study, Missouri overall lost population of 25-44-year-olds, but our area has seen and predicts above average growth of that age range in the future. This continued growth to our City and lake area is not surprising. Our area has a lot to offer; exceptional quality of life – best recreation, outdoor activities – the largest man-made lake in the US, the largest MO Park System. We have outstanding school systems at our fingertips all the way through adult learning; access to excellent healthcare in our immediate area; and the cost of living is one of the lowest indexed in the US as a region! A lot of people begin here with a vacation and eventually end up living here, many in between with a second home. Most of Osage Beach’s homes and condos are a vacation destination by second homeowners!
In-migration to the lake and to Osage Beach is expected to continue and this has an effect not only on our future workforce but the services our community will come to expect. Challenges for the City as well as the community include narrow pipeline of new workers, shrinking workforce participation, and skill gaps that exist. Funding is also a challenge. Funding of municipal services, particularly those services funded solely from sales tax, i.e. in our case ambulance service, public safety, parks and recreation, and other governmental support, is often a challenge that many local governments face as their communities and expected services grow. We are often challenged as government entities to do more with less; we are rarely asked to do less and regardless of the programs that aren’t getting enough funds or needs that outweigh the resources – our duty is to do everything we can to live in better conditions and you the citizens provide valuable influence!
How do you as a citizen be part of the solution?
Be informed and get involved!
Your engagement is an important and valuable priority in our democratic process, in addition to voting in your elected body. Citizen engagement involves the citizens assessing their own needs, important for improving public resource management and resolving / preventing corruption by that layer of accountability to the citizens.
The More You Know, the more you can add to our story and be a part of solutions offered by the governmental body.