Sedalia Council Debates Whether to Continue With Pioneer Trails Funding
Monday night's City Council meeting led off with two presentations, the first of which was from Norm Lucas from Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission, and the second was from City Administrator Kelvin Shaw concerning the highlights of the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget.
A budget work session was held the previous Monday, it was noted. At that meeting, there was discussion regarding the possibility of dropping the City's annual dues paid to Pioneer Trails. Many felt that Sedalia was being ignored and that the City was not getting its money's worth from the regional planning commission.
Lucas made his case to Council, pleading with them to include Pioneer Trails in its proposed budget, which will be finalized this month. In his 20-minute presentation, he touted the value of membership in Pioneer Trails, which serves a four-county area in mid-Missouri. The cost is based on population, and breaks down to 38 cents per citizen, he said. For Sedalia, that translates to $8,227 per year.
In defense of Pioneer Trails, Executive Director Lucas noted that the RPC entered into a $50,000 contract with EDSPC and a $40,000 contract with SFCC when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The contracts ran from July 2020 through June 2022.
In addition, Lucas noted that Mayor Dawson serves as a member of TAC, or the Transportation Advisory Committee of Pioneer Trails, since August 2021. Lucas said that the TAC is the primary way to submit potential projects to MoDOT.
Lucas also mentioned that Pioneer Trails seeks to improve broadband coverage in this area, and seeks to update Sedalia's Hazard Mitigation Plan. An update is required to receive the highest rate of reimbursement from FEMA in the case of a disaster, he noted.
Without membership in Pioneer Trails, Sedalia would be locked out of contention for consideration of certain federal grants, Lucas stressed. He named three grants that he was successful in obtaining for Lexington, Odessa and Marshall Junction.
One problem Lucas pointed out to Council is that currently, this area does not have its own MoDOT Area Engineer.
First Ward Councilman Tom Oldham asked Lucas “over the past year, what specific instances has Pioneer Trails been able to help us? Because from what we've heard from our department heads, along with the grant writing, we've approached Pioneer Trails in a couple of instances, and we've either been declined, or been told that we're not going to receive help. So we had to fight for those grants on our own.”
Lucas said there was a possibility of CDBG grants in a couple of cases, but were deemed ineligible activities that did not fit the criteria of the CDBG.
“They just did not work out,” Lucas replied, adding that he did not receive good communication from the City from November through January.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Rhiannon Foster asked Lucas about the ranking of the 32nd and Limit project, where 41 accidents have occurred over the past three years.
“We've asked multiple times. It's extremely dangerous, and I think it's pretty important that we look at that,” Foster told Lucas.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Fourth Ward Councilman Steve Bloess chimed in.
“That's a pretty big deal for us,” Foster stated.
In his response, Lucas said that Pioneer Trails is responsible for assembling the list of priorities that is submitted to MoDOT. “It is MoDOT's decision then as to which of those projects wind up published in their high-priority needs list,” Lucas said.
Bloess asked Lucas to “please advocate again for us for this intersection, because I think we were funded and ready to go, and then they inspected the Flat Creek Bridge and it was an emergency situation, and we had to step back for a year. So please try to get us into that highest priority list.”
Lucas had to be reminded by Foster, Bloess and Mayor Dawson as to which intersection they were referring to.
Once that was cleared up, Lucas replied “absolutely.”
Council will decide by the end of the month whether to include or reduce the annual funding sent to Pioneer Trails when they finalize and adopt the City's budget.
Council then approved a contract with Socket Communications for Plain Old Telephone (POT) lines. The contract had traditionally gone to AT&T, but the cost to maintain the lines keeps going up at every renewal. POT lines are old technology copper wires needed to support some equipment that still relies on this type of line, such as elevator emergency lines, supervisory control and data reporting lines, as well as fax machines. Socket can provide this service at a cheaper rate than AT&T, therefore it was recommended to go with Socket. Also, staff is reviewing the necessity of each of the lines and hopes to eliminate some of them.
The City's IT Manager Monte Richardson secured a cybersecurity grant for $161,224.64 to assist the City in managing and reducing systematic cyber risk. The grant would require $17,913.85 in matching funds from the City. Council approved acceptance of the grant.
Under Public Safety, Police Chief Matt Wirt identified a grant to assist with DWI enforcement. The grant includes a patrol vehicle that is specially marked and equipped just for this purpose. The rest of the grant funds would be used for reimbursement of overtime during special operations aimed at DWI law enforcement. Council approved applying for the $61,795 grant.
In addition, SPD has been successful in obtaining grants to assist with special operations aimed at reducing hazardous motorists. Council approved applying for the $17,650 grant.
One new liquor license was approved. Garrett Volker dba Volker's Eatery and Pub, 1021 South Limit, for the Pub Crawl in downtown Sedalia, scheduled for March 18, for a picnic license, $37.50.
One liquor license renewal was approved. Amy Von Holten dba Aldi #88, located at 3701 W. Broadway, for packaged liquor and Sunday sales, $450.
Council then adjourned for a closed-door meeting.