Sedalia City Council's meeting on Monday night began with three presentations under Finance and Administration and continued later with a fourth presentation under Public Works.

“Williams Keepers LLC” of Columbia presented audit results to Council. Sedalia hired a new audit firm this year, it was noted.

CPA  Amanda Schultz and CPA Kristen Brown, audit manager, each gave a report to Council. Williams Keepers issued a clear opinion, or unmodified, "the best you can get" to City of Sedalia. Full cooperation on the audit was received from City officials, Brown noted.

Financial Director Jessica Pyle presented a brief financial update to Council.

Pyle noted that when combining sales tax revenues with use tax revenues from August, fiscal year 2023 totals are up over $530,000 over last year to date.

Franchise and cigarette tax totals are up 8.3 percent from last September, while transportation tax totals are up 5.6 percent. Property taxes are down 11 percent when compared with last September.

City Administrator Kelvin Shaw and HR Director Shannon Ramey-Trull gave a presentation on health insurance renewal quotes for approval by Council.

Ramey Trull said she had great news for Council in the form of a zero-percent increase when it comes to vision insurance, voluntary life insurance, dental and critical illness.

A total of 166 City employees are enrolled in the current HSA medical plan, 57 are enrolled in the lower PPO plan, and seven in the higher PPO plan.

Ramey-Trull said she needed guidance and direction on increasing the PPO 4500 plan to a 5000 deductible and changing co-pays, cost sharing for spouse, child and family tiers on the HSA and 5000 PPO plan, continuing with a $100 per month contribution to HSA, and employee contribution for PPO 3000 based on employee-only contributions.

No opposition was voiced by Council or the Mayor, and the matter was approved. (seven yes and one absent, with Mayor Pro Tem Tina Boggess not present Monday night). Fourth Ward Councilman Steve Bloess said the plan "well thought out."

Council approved a new “code of conduct” for volunteers. Human Resource Director Shannon Ramey-Tull worked with department heads who manage volunteer programs to help develop the new code.

A budget amendment was adopted by Council to help with employee retention. “Sign and Stay Pay” is essentially an incentive to come to work for the City of Sedalia and remain on the payroll. It is designed to compete in the bidding war for labor. A $500 bonus is offered for full-time employees who receive a paycheck Dec. 2, and another $500 March 10. The move will help the City get through this budget year. Another decision will be made after the second payment is made to City employees, going forward with the next fiscal year.

A request to block off 5th Street for the Rocky Horror Picture Show presentation scheduled for Oct. 28 from 6  to p.m., was made to Council by the Liberty Center Association for the Arts. The request also included a waiver of the open container law for the event. Liberty Center already has a liquor license and the waiver will extend that privilege to the street for the duration of the event. The vote was six yes, with one abstention from Councilwoman Foster, who sits on the Liberty Center board.

That was followed by the fourth presentation scheduled for the night by Cemetery Director Roger Waters for the purpose of strategic planning.

In his remarks to Council, Waters said he is totally against the selling of property located at 1030 North Engineer.

He noted that the property was purchased years ago for the cemetery to be able to expand. "It is the best ground we own for future burials because it is high ground and it drains well. This will make the cost of opening up this area less expensive because we won't have water drainage issues to deal with," he told the Council.

The property, which is currently being farmed and brings in $3800 annually to the City, has no underground utilities, water, gas or sewer lines. There are electrical lines running overhead on the east side of Engineer, Waters noted.

Developing the 19.28 acres of land for residential housing will being more traffic to the area, adding safety issues with cemetery employees who drive slow-moving mowers, backhoes and trucks.

It would also add to the water drainage problems already being dealt with at Crown Hill Cemetery. The low-lying land located to the west and south of the cemetery office is not suitable for graves, Waters said. To fix that problem with installation of a box culvert would cost the City a quarter of a million dollars, it was estimated. The ditch in the area currently catches runoff water from the surrounding 130 acres of streets and residential homes. The area also is filled with large pieces of metal that was dumped there by the previous owner. Many pieces require a chain and backhoe to remove, he said.

In addition, Waters said he has talked to several neighbors in the area along North Engineer, and all are against selling the property.

The presentation process by department heads will lead up to Jan. 7 when Council will conduct a strategic planning session which will set priorities for the upcoming budget. Council will attend work budget sessions in February and March, and adopt a budget during the final meeting of March.

A belt press used by the Sedalia Water Department is failing to keep up with production and needs to be replaced. Staff located a vendor (Alfa Laval, Inc.) and noted it will cost $11,220.83 to purchase a replacement. Council approved the purchase as an emergency expenditure.

Council also approved the purchase of a $21,570.34 pump for the 32nd Street Lift Station. The vendor is FTC Equiment, LLC.

A second pump is slated to be replaced in the next fiscal year, it was noted.

Council then approved a resolution and ordinance concerning utility inspections for excavation of right-of-ways when companies install fiber optics. The budget amendment will address the cost of inspections to ensure compliance with a new code.

Finally, under Public Works, Council approved the design work by Wilson and Company for improvements to the City's water distribution system on Grand from 20th and to 32nd Street. Wilson supplies an on-call engineer for these types of projects.

Under Public Safety, Council approved a plan proposed by Animal Services Manager Randi Battson to reduce the number of animals allowed to be a nuisance to the neighbors. Repeat violators will be identified as irresponsible pet owners. The proposal was approved with no questions from Council.

Council appointed Emily Schmidt to the Sedalia Library Board, replacing Chris Paszkiewicz. Her term will expire June 30, 2024.

Council approved a special event liquor license for Kristy Long dba Wildlife Ridge Winery, 34751 Miller Road, Smithton, for the Child Safe Dessert Auction, scheduled for Nov. 22 from 8 a.m., to 9 p.m., at The Foundry, 324 W. 2nd Street, $15.

Council approved a liquor license renewal for Crystal Sims, dba Words Express #570, located at 703 E. Broadway, for packaged liquor and sales, $450.

Under Good and Welfare, Sedalia resident Sandra Clark approached Council with a request to allow her to keep three pet goats at her home, located at 640 E. 9th Street. City Code does not currently allow for residents to raise goats at their house.

Council then adjourned to closed-door session.

In the top photo: Amanda Schultz. representing Williams Keepers Audit firm, approaches the podium to address the Sedalia City Council on the results of an audit Monday night.

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