The Sedalia City Council heard an annual report presentation from OATS during its meeting Monday evening.
OATS is a not-for-profit organization that provides transportation to elderly citizens, people with disabilities and the rural general public in 87 counties in Missouri, including Sedalia. Midwest Regional Director Tracy Walkup pointed out that while OATS started in the 1980s as a transportation service for only the elderly, the organization has expanded its reach.
“We transport nursing home residents frequently. Local workers that go to their jobs, workshop plants, Tyson — we have eight hours every day Monday through Friday that we are running back and forth to Tyson taking people back and forth to work,” Walkup said. “We do a significant amount of Medicaid transportation, dialysis patients, shoppers, Head Start children — we’ve had a contract with Head Start for many, many years — and people who just want to get out and don’t have a car. The census data from the last census shows that 10.9 percent of Sedalia homes don’t own a vehicle at all.”
In Fiscal Year 2016 in Sedalia, OATS traveled a total of 495,678 miles, costing $817,869. That cost was paid for by contract revenue billed ($376,291), passenger fares ($40,009) and federal funds (estimated $401,569).
Walkup said the total cost of a one-way passenger trip is $11.33, but passenger fare for paratransit is only $2.50 and passenger fare on The BUS is $1.50. She added that fares will remain the same in 2017.
Walkup also mentioned several plans for OATS in Sedalia in 2017, such as offering monthly discount cards “where you can just show your card and get on the bus as many times as you want during the month,” adding more bus shelters and expanding bus routes.
During her presentation, Walkup included OATS’ request for 34.6 cents per trip, which comes out to $25,000 in operating funds from the city, to help subsidize the service. She also requested $5,000 in bus match, which will be replacement for about one and a half vehicles every other year. The federal government pays for 80 percent of the cost, leaving OATS with the other 20 percent, or $10,000. Council will vote on the OATS contract during an upcoming meeting.
“You should be commended here in Sedalia for getting out in front of this and being ahead of the curve as far as public transit goes,” Walkup said. “For a rural community, you really stand out because you have six-day service from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. and there are communities in this state that are lucky to have two days of service, one day of service. This really is a special community to have this much service.”
Finance Director Kelvin Shaw provided council with a financial update, reporting that November sales tax increased 2 percent from November 2015. This brings the year-to-date sales tax at a 2.1 percent increase over last year. The city budgeted for a 2 percent increase.
During the meeting council also:
• Approved the appointment of Ward 4 Councilman Tollie Rowe to the Economic Development Board for a one-year term expiring December 2017.
• Approved a bid and ordinance approving and accepting an agreement with Lehman Construction LLC for the U.S. Highway 50/Oak Grove Lane intersection improvements project.
• Approved an ordinance approving the sale of real property in Hubbard Park to Child Safe of Central Missouri Inc.
• Approved a bid for rock from Boone Quarries of Hughesville.
• Approved an ordinance calling a general election to be hosted April 4, 2017, to elect one council member from each of the four wards.
• Approved a recommendation to accept the proposal for underwriting services for the refunding of 2007 COP’s from Piper Jaffray and Co.
• Approved a records destruction request from the Personnel Department.
• Approved an ordinance adopting a five-year capital improvement plan for Fiscal Years 2018 to 2022.
Ward 1 Councilwoman Jo Lynn Turley was absent.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.