Monday night's City Council meeting, the last one for 2023, began with a public meeting concerning citizen input on the upcoming fiscal year's strategic planning and budget process.

The only comment received was from Senior Center representative Rene Vance, who requested that the City give $500 in sponsorship money for the Center's monthly fund-raising dinner, typically held on a Sunday. Vance noted that it takes about a quarter million dollars to fund the operation annually.

“We serve 165 frozen meals and 152 hot meals every day,” Vance told the Council.

Trisha Rooda, Sedalia-Pettis County EMA director, then gave a 16-minute presentation, listing the EMA's accomplishments in 2023 and as well as future plans. She noted that “every disaster starts local and ends local.”

Fourth Ward Councilman Steve Bloess requested that an exercise be conducted by the EMA simulating a rail spill.

Rooda said that her deputy director resigned on Friday after her husband was deployed, and her replacement will start Jan. 3.

Council will use input from all the department heads' presentations for its annual strategic planning session, scheduled for all day Saturday, Jan. 6. That will be followed by budget work sessions in February and March.

Under Finance and Administrator, Finance Director Jessica Pyle gave the Council an update on the City's most recent tax revenue collection trends.

Council then approved an ordinance that removed garage sale permitting. Staff decided that the current method of permitting was unwarranted and ineffective. Staff will now focus solely on garage sales that create a nuisance or disrupt the neighborhood, it was noted.

There is a limit of three garage sales per year per address. Councilman Hiller complained that garage sales signs are not removed after the sale is over. "If they have time to put it up, they have time to take it down," he said. He wanted to table the decision. Councilman Bob Cross concurred with Hiller, suggesting that a name, address and phone number should be written on the signs to promote responsibility. Failure to do so should result in a fine or they will not be allowed to hold another sale, Cross said.

Hiller suggested using a code enforcement officer to work on Saturdays to check on garage sale compliance.

A vote to table the ordinance failed, and a vote to pass the ordinance resulted in a tie. Mayor Pro Tem Foster broke the tie by voting yes.

Council, after voting last meeting 4-2 to change Council members' terms from two years to four years, voted 7-1 Monday night to put the issue on the April 22 ballot for voters to decide. Robinson was the lone no vote. Staff noted it has no opinion either way.

Council, on advice from legal counsel, will require conflict of interest reporting by the newly appointed Assistant City Administrator, which was announced Dec. 5.

It was noted that the MEC reporting requirements do not apply to this position, but in the spirit of transparency, full disclosure and public trust, staff recommended requiring that of the new position, currently held by former Sedalia Police Chief Mattt Wirt.

In addition, staff has located a used Durango for Wirt to use in his new job. The Durango was obtained from the Kansas Highway Patrol at a cost of $30,850. A budget amendment was considered to accommodate the purchase. But Fourth Ward Councilman Bloess questioned the need for a response vehicle for the assistant city administrator.

Wirt said that the Kansas Patrol is holding the Durango for the City of Sedalia until Jan. 1, adding that the price is below market value. The vehicle has over 40,000 miles on it.

“I wasn't convinced in the short time we had to discuss it, that you need a vehicle all the time,” Bloess told Wirt. “It's a new position. I honestly just felt you may be able to work around that to some degree. I just felt like I got shortchanged in the previous discussion that we had.”

A motion to postpone the decision to buy the Durango made by Councilman Bloess was ultimately voted down, 5-3. Bloess, Boggess and Foster voted to postpone.

The ordinance vote was then taken, with Bloess and Boggess voting no. The ordinance passed 6-2 to purchase the Durango for Wirt.

Under Public Works, Interim Public Works Director Chris Davies presented plans for the City's Water and Wastewater departments.

Davies suggested that around 1,000 water meters should be replaced annually in the City, so it will take about 10 years to replace all 10,000 or 11,000, he noted.

Staff has issued an invitation for bids reference rock salt for the winter months. It was noted that Sedalia has the storage capacity to buy enough rock salt at one time to last an entire season, at a time when other communities are scrambling to find enough product.

Four bids were received in response to the request, and the low bidder was Hutchinson Salt Co., Inc., (Baxter Springs, Kan.) at $75.42 per ton (delivered), and $41.13 per ton with the City picking it up.

The Sanitation department is experiencing a rapid increase in garbage trucks breaking down on the job that impedes the City's ability to keep up with the demand for trash pick-up. The City is keenly aware of the problem, adding that some public works crews are forced to pick up trash with loaders and dump trucks, making the entire process very inefficient.

Two trucks available for purchase have been located by staff. They are heavier and are more suitable to the City's needs, and cost $757,800. Staff suggested that money be loaned from General Fund to Sanitation to cover the cost. The General Fund currently has an unassigned fund balance of $9,664,833.

Adding to the Sanitation department's ongoing problems, the newest rear loader was recently involved in an accident and the insurance adjuster has declared it a total loss. This resulted in placing one of the older reserve trucks back in front-line service. The reserve unit then broke down and was not repairable, meaning that when any truck was down and out, loaders and dump trucks had to be utilized.

Davies illustrated how costly repairs are for the small fleet of side lift refuse trucks that were purchased five years ago:

In 2019, $35,000 was spent on parts and replacements.

In 2020, that figure increased to $42,000.

In 2021, a total of 72,000 was spent.

In 2022, $66,000 was spent on repairs.

And so far in 2023, $93,000 has been spent on the trucks to keep them running their routes.

That's a total of $308,000 over the past four years or so.

The trucks were supposed to last seven years or longer. "But they didn't," Davis said.

The opportunity to buy two new larger trucks using parts that are more commonly available is a good one, with each one costing around $380,000, with a longer useful life.

Once the new ones are in service, the plan calls for one of the three old trucks to run a route, with the other two in reserve in the event of a breakdown.

Davies went so far as to say those three trucks should never have been purchased for a City the size of Sedalia.

Third Ward Councilman Bob Hiller said he would like to see a maintenance schedule implemented, with regular oil changes in the City's vehicles.

In the meantime, staff worked with the insurance company to collect $207,364.95 in funds from the totaled truck to apply towards the purchase of a new truck at a cost of $265,000, plus $2,364.95 for necessary camera equipment. Mayor Dawson declared it an emergency purchase due to the shortened window to be able to buy the new truck.

Council approved a budget amendment to formally appropriate the funds.

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Two properties owned by Kroeger Poperties II, LLC, requested connection to City utilities. The City will annex the two properties when they become eligible, it was noted. The properties are located at 6025 and 6027 Lowe Drive.

Council authorized a task order for technical support and engineering services relating to the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion in the amount of $141,689 to Burns and McDonnell.

Mayor Pro Tem Rhiannon Foster presided over the 90-minute meeting in Mayor Dawson's absence.

Council then adjourned to closed-door session to discusss legal advice, Real Estate and negotiated contracts.

Council Meeting 12-18

Gallery Credit: Randy Kirby

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