The Sedalia City Council discussed the status of its 2016 strategic goals during Monday night’s pre-council meeting, but also offered some clarification for citizens concerned about the recent decision to make changes to the city’s trash services.
Ward 4 citizen Doug Sokolowski addressed council during the pre-council meeting about what he considered to be a quick decision on making changes to the city’s trash services during the July 18 meeting. He said he wasn’t opposed to council’s final decisions of adding curbside recycling, decreasing trash pickup to once a week and increasing the monthly trash rate by $2, but rather disagreed with the process of how council came to those decisions.
“I know that I’m not the only one that disagreed with the process. … I feel it is something that needs to be brought up because I think you made a decision without having all your full tools,” Sokolowski said, referring to the city’s annual citizen survey that is available online through 5 p.m. Aug. 8 and was included in the July water bills. He added that he didn’t receive his survey until July 19, one day after council’s meeting. “I know it doesn’t paint a total picture but you guys asked two very specific questions in reference to the trash service on that.
“… I think as a whole the proper thing would have been to wait until after that Aug. 8 deadline to make a decision in reference to that,” he continued. “I feel that the process was missed, I feel that’s what disenfranchises people with local government, national government even for that matter, and it basically said to me that you didn’t really care about the whole entire answers.”
Both Ward 3 Councilman Bob Cross and Ward 1 Councilman Jeff Leeman said they agreed with Sokolowski, but Leeman said there were timing issues regarding a contract with providers that had to be dealt with in a specific time frame. City Administrator Gary Edwards gave two reasons as to why council made the decisions when it did.
“There are two issues to keep in mind. By the time that the council voted, we had gotten about half the surveys in. It was over 60 percent in favor of the vote of the council. … Since that time it’s 60 percent in favor of the council’s vote. So it just so happens the opinion goes along with the vote of the council,” Edwards explained. “Point two, there are a lot of issues coming up and the way it’s scheduled right now, all of them would’ve been hitting at the same time, major issues. I don’t believe that’s fair, we need to spread these out as much as possible.
“Should we have waited? An argument can be made for that. But all of these issues, there’s a sewer issue we’re going to have to hit, what’s going to happen with the community center, all these are hitting at the same time. Those are two things we had to consider also. Don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but there’s other factors we had to take into consideration also.”
Leeman added that voting regarding the trash issue had “virtually not changed” from the 2015 survey to the 2016 survey. He also added that council members were given a running total of the survey results as they came in, and that the citizen survey is only one tool that council must utilize.
“I think you bring up some good points, but whether the survey would have been 100 percent for, 100 percent against, a detective by nature I looked at the facts. Whether (the survey) was for or against it, it had to be done one way or the other,” Ward 4 Councilman Tollie Rowe said to Sokolowski. “I understand what you’re saying, but when we voted on it my mind was made up whether it was popular or unpopular because it’s what the city needed to do.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Edwards gave an update on the city’s short- and long-term goals as decided by council during the January strategic goal-setting meeting. Edwards noted that all goals have either been completed or are ongoing/underway with the exception of a few that have been delayed for a future budget.
Some short-term highlights include:
• Sedalia Regional Airport taxiway — This goal is budgeted and underway with $50,000 in city matching funds, which leverages $450,000 in Federal funds.
• Increase annual funding for street maintenance/construction to $1.7 million — “That’s completed,” Edwards said. “It’s somewhat less, but still much more than in previous years.”
• Evaluate costs and next steps to address police station needs — Council heard a presentation regarding a possible new station earlier this year and gave city staff the go-ahead to continue planning for a new building. Edwards said the city is working on the bidding process for the structure design.
• Continue to support Clean-Up Sedalia, including demolition and considering a rental inspection program — Last year’s budget included $100,000 for demolition. “This year’s budget we were able to pretty much double that amount when you consider the work that needs to be done on Broadway Arms. It’s like $255,000, somewhere in there,” Edwards said. “That takes into consideration all the work that’s ongoing right now with Broadway Arms. That leaves approximately $100,000 for general demolitions.” As for a rental inspection program proposal, that consideration process is slated to begin this summer.
• Improving the Main Street/Oak Grove intersection — Funding is in place and design work is underway, Edwards said. “We have the funding, (Monday) we learned we have a partner with that,” he said. “I don’t want to give too much information because the documents haven’t been signed yet. That goes from about a $300,000-plus project up to a $600,000 project because of our partnership.”
• Water line cost-sharing — The Water Department, which operates independently from the city and has its own budget, has completed a review of the city’s hydrants. “(The city) offered to help but they’re moving forward on their own,” Edwards said. “All the hydrants out there are being addressed by the Water Department, a very important issue for the Fire Department.”
• Increase sidewalk construction — This has been increased from $50,000 to $100,000 in the budget.
All four long-term goals are ongoing or underway. One goal of note is “consider next steps to construct a community center.” Council heard a presentation on a proposed center earlier this year. Edwards said a review is underway and the topic will be brought back to council at an upcoming meeting, date to be determined.
During the meeting council also:
• Approved an ordinance amending the budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17 regarding Sedalia Police Department seizure funds used for a property room barcode kit.
• Approved a resolution extending the moratorium on demolition permits on Ohio Avenue between Main Street and Broadway Boulevard for an additional 90 days.
• Approved an ordinance amending the budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17 regarding Public Works Department lease purchase agreements for certain equipment.
• Approved an ordinance amending the budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17 regarding Public Works Department Materials Management Site improvements.
• Approved an ordinance granting a rezoning application by Lawrence J. Klein for property located at 1602 S. Harrison Ave., 1606 S. Harrison Ave. and 1618 S. Harrison Ave.
• Approved a records destruction request from the Personnel Department.
• Approved a records destruction request from the Finance Department.
Council member Jo Lynn Turley was absent.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.