Sedalia City Administrator Kelvin Shaw and Mayor John Kehde gave a “State of the City” presentation and answered attendees’ questions at the Pettis County Pachyderm meeting Friday afternoon at Best Western State Fair Inn.
Shaw began his presentation giving updates on the city’s financial status, which he said is stable.
“We’re happy to report that the state of the city is, in my opinion, great,” Shaw said. “We are financially stable and as kind of indicators of that is our Standard and Poor’s credit rating was just upgraded a couple of years ago to AA minus. AAA is the highest you can get so we’re a couple away from that but we’re doing well. For a city our size it’s really uncommon to have an AA minus or to get into the double As at all.”
In the last three years, roughly 1,350 jobs have been added averaging a $57,000 wage, which is about one and a half times the county average, according to Shaw. Shaw said that means there is roughly $77 million more to be spent in the community every year. $392 million in capital investments was also made in the community.
Shaw said the city has been working with developers to bring more retail and expansions to the city with successes like The Crossing, Lamy’s renovation, Midas, Tiger Family Dental, Tiger Express Car Wash, Wood and Huston Bank, and a Big O Tires is slated to be built in the Galaxy West TIF district. Another was the new Break Time on Rebar Road.
“We just met with them (Break Time) today and we just learned that this (Rebar Road location) is their No. 1 store already so that’s huge,” Shaw said.
One of the “big wins” this year, according to Shaw, was the Heckart Community Center and the passing of the two ballot measures by roughly 80% each with record voter turnout. Shaw said the city was “working very hard” on the center.
Another success this year was the Katy Trail Connection. Shaw said it seems the state’s portion of the project was going well and looks like it is almost done. The city’s portion should start this spring, he said.
In infrastructure, Shaw talked about projects like the reclaiming of Winchester Drive, adding a four-way stop at 10th Street, the water line main replacement project, and central plant upgrade. Other projects have included an agreement for a Streetscape project on Pacific Street in an agreement with Lamy’s, city hall updates, and changing the management structure for the Water Department.
Another initiative the city focused on in the past year was community development and neighborhood revitalization including demolitions, working on redevelopment concepts, and cleanups. The city has also been working to get the community more involved in the revitalization of neighborhood efforts.
A major initiative for next year includes creating branding for the city and helping instill city pride in residents.
“We know living here that we’re much more than the State Fair city…” he explained. “That’s typically what others know about Sedalia is the State Fair. We know that we are much, much more than that but we need to figure out what is our story? How do we tell it?”
Kehde also mentioned the railroad spur project, which he said is on a lot of people’s minds.
“We’re getting closer…” Kehde said. “We’re working with a very patient Nucor group.”
Kehde and Shaw also spent some time taking questions from attendees. One asked how the city is doing with the recycling program. Shaw said the city so far is pleased with the number of people participating but in order for the program to break even “way more people needed to participate.”
Shaw estimated 70% of items went into the trash and 30% went into recycling and the city needs it to be closer to at least 50% and 50% to make the program pay for itself. In order to do that, Shaw said the city needs to do more education and more work telling citizens about it. Kehde said he believes it has made a difference though in the trash in alleyways and there are fewer code enforcement issues with trash.
Kehde and Shaw were also asked for their best guess for the results of the 2020 census of Sedalia. Kehde guessed 24,500 and Shaw thought it was a “pretty good estimate.”
The next Pachyderm meeting will be at noon Jan. 17 at Best Western State Fair Inn, 3120 S. Limit Ave., with Pettis County Commissioners giving a State of the County presentation.