The Sedalia City Council clarified some confusion regarding the ballot language for the Aug. 6 special election during its meeting Monday night. 

Sedalia voters will be asked to consider a one-eighth cent sales tax increase, which would be one cent for every $8 spent in the city of Sedalia. If approved, the money from the tax will be used to pay the principal on the proposed center. Voters will also decide whether to remove the June 30, 2026, sunset provision on existing capital improvement sales taxes. 

Chairman of Yes Yes for Sedalia Steve Bloess spoke to council asking the members to clarify for voters what the revenue created by the two ballot issues would be used for. 

Due to the way the state requires ballot language be written, the ballot does not explicitly say the revenue generated by the ballot issues will be used to build a community center. This has led to some confusion among voters, according to Bloess. Council confirmed the revenue would be used for the community center. 

“If you would refer to the May 6 council minutes, it was on the agenda that day. It was then that we then decided to go forward with it on the ballot issue…” said Ward 1 Councilman Jeff Leeman. “I’ll read a portion of this (council minutes): ‘The eighth of a cent will be used for the not to exceed $20 million community center.’ It is right there in writing. It’s what we’ve agreed to.”

City Administrator Kelvin Shaw also echoed Leeman’s statements: “That is the purpose, that was the purpose for putting it on the ballot, and that is for the community center. That is what it’s to be used for.”

Shaw said the city struggles with ballot language since state statutes give the city very little choice in wording. 

“I’ve been asked that myself, ‘Why can’t you just put it in layman’s terms? If you want the community center vote yes.’ Now we can’t quite do that,” Shaw said. 

“... That’s clearly what council’s intention was,” he continued, referring to the tax for a community center. “If the voters want the community center, they pass both of those issues, then the council and the park board is 100% committed. We will get it built.”

Council also approved the addition of a position in the Sedalia Fire Department. According to Sedalia Fire Chief Greg Harrell, after the retirement of a fire inspector, SFD has had to use a fire inspector who works on shift, which shorts them one person. Their administrative captain has also been filling in, meaning that his normal duties were being neglected. 

The proposal allows SFD to hire an inspector on a 40-hour workweek to do inspections. The new position will be filled by someone already on the force, according to Harrell, and then their vacant position will need to be filled. The previous inspector's shift would also need to be filled. Harrell expects to make this change in the fall after the two vacant positions are filled. 

According to Harrell, the department will be cost-neutral for the rest of the fiscal year with the retirement of the fire inspector. Next year it will add a cost of about $31,800 to SFD’s personnel budget for the new inspector position. 

Harrell also spoke to the difficulties the department has faced in trying to find people for the firefighter positions. The department is looking at going back to opening up the application process to non-certified, untrained personnel, and having them go through testing, reviews and then training the employee themselves.

Harrell also awarded Life Save Awards to firefighters Cory Rettke, Colby Snapp, Matt Moulton, and Alex Razumovsky. 

The Sedalia Fire Department was dispatched to the report of an 8-month-old female who was not breathing June 28. Upon arrival, it was unknown how long the child had been without oxygen. The firefighters worked to clear her airway and perform blow-by oxygen. Upon the arrival of Pettis County Ambulance District, the firefighters continued to assist in suctioning and maintaining the patient’s airway. 

As of July 12 when the department spoke to the parents, the child was home, healthy and, according to doctors, “has no long term or any lasting neurological issues,” Harrell said.

“The Sedalia Fire Department personnel involved, these four gentlemen before you, performed their duties in the highest traditions of the fire service and the Sedalia Fire Department…These gentlemen went way past and exceeded,” Harrell told council. 

Council also:

• Heard a financial update from Shaw who said use and sales taxes are up, franchise and cigarette taxes are down, and transportation and property taxes are “pretty stable.”

• Approved a mutual aid agreement between the Sedalia Fire Department and the Forestry Division of the Missouri Department of Conservation for the purpose of defining authority and responsibility and providing for cooperative plans and actions for the prevention, detection and suppression of fires. 

• Granted a rezoning application by Dan and Kim Welch for property at 1600 S. Prospect Ave.

• Approved an amended lease agreement between the Sedalia Regional Airport and Mid-Mo Ag Air LLC. 

• Amended the budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20 regarding Whiteman Drill Weekend meals for $5,000. 

• Accepted contract change order No. 1 for Triple Underground LLC relating to the Nucor and Henry Street Water Line Extension Project for $37,593.

• Approved change order No. 2 for KAT Excavation Inc. relating to the Broadway Water Line Replacement Project for $112,203.

• Appointed Billie Dunn to the Public Library Board for a three-year term expiring June 2020 and reappointed Chuck Leftwich as an alternate to the Board of Appeals for a five-year term expiring June 2024. 

Council adjourned to a closed session meeting for legal advice and lease, sale or purchase of real estate. 

All council members were present. 

City Reporter

Emily Walton is the city reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering local government and various city departments.

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