The Sedalia City Council, city department heads and Mayor Stephen Galliher spent Saturday at the annual Strategic Goal-setting Work Session to plan out priorities for 2016.
Council heard presentations from the IT, HR, public safety and public works departments as well as the Sedalia Regional Airport regarding updates on the past year and budget proposals for large projects.
After creating a long list of possible projects and goals for the coming year, council and Galliher voted to select their top priorities, with City Administrator Gary Edwards noting that other projects will continue to be worked on even if they did not make the goals list. It should be noted that no official action was taken by council during this session; council simply decided on priority projects for the coming years.
• Consider long-term transportation roadway improvements. This includes constructing additional infrastructure at Main Street and State Fair Boulevard and continuing to monitor 10th Street and Winchester Drive.
“Construct additional infrastructure improvements” was listed as a long-term goal in 2015, and some of that goal has made progress over the last year. A study has been completed at the Main Street and Oak Grove Lane intersection, which was presented during Saturday’s work session. According to information provided about the status of 2015 goals, “funding is being located” for that project.
A study in 2015 determined the long-debated 10th and Winchester intersection is safe, but it must be monitored to make sure nothing changes.
• Focus on evaluating long-term maintenance of city facilities.
Very little discussion took place with this goal, but Community Development Director John Simmons said most, if not all, of the city’s buildings’ roofs are past their lifespan. He suggested coming up with a long-term maintenance plan to address issues with municipal buildings.
• Consider next steps to construct a community center.
Progress still hasn’t been made on this 2015 long-term goal, although the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department is exploring funding options for the possible project.
A short discussion began during Saturday’s work session, with Galliher saying he would like to see a community center in Sedalia but that the city must weigh the pro of providing that service with the con of being able to sustain a project that will have ongoing high costs to maintain. However, seven of the nine people voting Saturday chose to make this a priority again in 2016.
• Continue city-wide commercial and residential development.
With what many could consider a successful development year in Sedalia in 2015, council decided to make this a long-term goal again. According to information provided about a 2015 strategy for this goal regarding eastside development, “some major options are being discussed. Land has been identified.”
• Public safety pay plan in the Fiscal Yyear 2017 budget.
Concerns have been raised about the wage level for public safety employees in Sedalia, with Sedalia police and fire chiefs noting during last year’s session that Sedalia’s lower wages were hurting recruitment and retention. Finance Director Kelvin Shaw worked with the departments and union leadership to create a pay plan ladder and address overlap issues.
Those two plans offer a more clearly defined path for advancement. SPD Officer AJ Silvey said there is little incentive for senior officers to apply for promotions when there is little wage increase for a large increase in responsibility, so younger officers are applying for higher promotions. Entry level positions were close or below the surrounding market.
Shaw said the cost to implement this plan would be 5.8 percent of gross wages, or about $190,000. However, it is $113,000 above the city’s historic rate increases, so he considered that the real cost to implement.
Representatives from the local unions both said they support these plans and believe they will help retain employees in Sedalia instead of being recruited to cities with better wages.
• Create an annexation policy/criteria.
Simmons said city staff has discussed creating such a policy. The policy is not because the city is looking to annex in more land, but rather so the city has a plan in place if annexation comes up again.
• Rebuild the Sedalia Regional Airport’s taxiway.
The airport just finished up rebuilding its main runway last year, but Director John Evans said there are more construction projects needed. He said the connecting taxiway up to the main ramp and the main ramp need to be rebuilt, as they are as old as the runway that was just replaced.
• Consider commercial development/redevelopment incentive policy.
• Increase funding for street maintenance/construction.
The last two years have seen a record $1 million budget for the Street Department, which has led to almost 100 percent of city-maintained roads receiving some type of maintenance in the last eight years. However, Interim Public Works Director Ellen Cross said it may be time to start looking at rebuilds rather than maintenance.
“We know chip and seal is only a band-aid to what is underneath the surface,” she said. “… I think we’ve almost reached the end to using that as our band-aid on our roads. I think we need to take it to the next step and I think we need to concentrate on rebuilding streets.”
Cross said “rebuild” could be either a concrete rebuild, which costs $100,000 per block, or some streets could receive mill and overlay, which costs about $11,000 per block. She explained there is also about $600,000 worth of maintenance needs for 2016. With that in mind, when budget talks reach council, it could consider approving another large record amount of street funding for Fiscal Year 17 — $1.7 million.
• North Wastewater Plant screen replacement.
Cross said there are many needs in the Water Pollution Control Department, but by far the biggest need is a $485,000 screen replacement. She said some of that price tag would be covered by the recent rate increase, but not all of it.
• Construct a new 10-unit hangar at the Sedalia Regional Airport.
“The other project we really need is hangars,” Evans told council. “This is my eighth year here, business is four times greater than it was at that time. I have 18 airplanes on a waiting list all wanting hangars.”
Evans said he estimates building a new hangar will cost $500,000, which would be paid off in 12 to 14 years with payments from renters. He said grant money is available for the taxi lane around a hangar if it is built to federal standards, but reimbursement wouldn’t occur for about two years.
• Evaluate costs/next steps to address Sedalia Police station needs.
This was also a short-term goal in 2015, and Edwards told council city staff will present three options to them in a work session in the next 60 days.
• Continue to support Clean Up Sedalia initiative.
This was also a short-term goal in 2015, with the main focus on drafting a rental inspection ordinance. Local landlords and renters have argued about the idea for at least a year, and Edwards said city staff will present a proposed inspection program during a council work session in April.
Both Edwards and Simmons brought up the fact that $100,000 worth of dangerous building demolition took/will take place in FY16, and they hope council will continue the high demolition budget in FY17, as it “helps a lot with Clean Up Sedalia,” Edwards said.
• Continue to support and focus on retail recruitment.
This was also a short-term goal in 2015, with the first strategy being “utilize incentives as appropriate to stimulate activity.” This guidance led to the passage of a TIF district in Sedalia in November 2015, with retail businesses expected to open in that area in December.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.