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A rendering of the east exterior of the planned Sedalia Community Center. 

The Sedalia City Council covered a wide range of topics during its Monday evening meeting from the Heckart Community Center to fire safety. 

The council met in the second-floor conference room in the Municipal Building while renovations are being done in the council chambers. 

During the Aug. 6 special election, Sedalia voters approved a one-eighth cent sales tax increase and removal of the June 30, 2026, sunset provision on existing capital improvement sales taxes to be used to build the Heckart Community Center. Sue Heckart, former owner of Heckart Funeral Home and founder of the Heckart Family Foundation, agreed to pay the interest on the bonds for the center not exceeding $20 million through Heckart’s donation to the Heritage Foundation in Sedalia.

Monday night, the council declared the city’s official intent to finance the costs of acquiring, constructing, furnishing and equipping a community recreation center with a maximum cost of $29 million, instead of $20 million, which raised some questions among residents. 

City Administrator Kelvin Shaw explained the change. 

“I understand there’s been some Facebook traffic on this issue,” Shaw said. “I just want to clarify really, what we are and are not doing with this resolution. This resolution is only really required because of the tax-exempt financing. All we’re asking council to do is to declare their intent to use tax-exempt financing for the community center.

“In doing so, we have to set the maximum that we would consider financing. It does not obligate the city to borrow one dime, it does not obligate the city any number.” 

Shaw explained the architects working on the facility’s concepts were having trouble staying within the original $20 million budget while keeping three full-sized basketball courts in the center. The Park Board then met and agreed to put in another $2 million from the department’s reserves, if necessary, to keep the full-sized courts. Shaw confirmed the board has that money in its reserves. 

Kelvin also said the city has been talking with the Sedalia School District 200 about increasing the center’s originally planned 25-yard, four-lane lap pool to eight lanes with a dive well where Smith-Cotton High School could practice and host its competitions. This cost was roughly estimated to be $6.4 million. 

“The school district has figured out that they can make the payments on $6.4 million so we’ve been working with them,” Shaw explained. “We have an agreement in concept but that’s verbally and there’s still some things to work out. We’re still working on the budget and all of that kind of good stuff so that’s not set in stone but it is still a possibility that we would do that.”

Kelvin said that brought the potential cost of the center to $28.4 million and the rest was for “soft costs” such as closing the loan. Shaw also said Heckart would still pay the interest on the loans for the center up to a $20 million debt. He cautioned the costs were based on estimates and it appeared like they were going to be able to bring the cost of the pool down. 

The council also unanimously voted against an ordinance which would have added Section 64-124(29) of the Code of Ordinances regarding the addition of freight terminals (rail or truck) to special use permits, per the recommendation of staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission. 

Shaw explained the ordinance had come from a rezoning application they received for a property wanting to allow a freight transfer facility to operate on it. The application would have changed the property from a C-3 to M-1. The application was recommended for approval by the commission but failed to receive enough votes from council to be approved. 

Shaw explained the commission expressed it wished it had the option to grant a special use permit for the property instead of rezoning it. The commission then recommended staff to start the process to add freight terminals to the ordinance. However, upon later reviewing it, the commission decided there was a better way to do it and is “committed to working through this and trying to devise a better system.” Since the city had already started the process and issued a public notice, the issue had to be formally resolved. The commission then voted against it unanimously and so did the council. 

Concerns were also raised about the recent string of fires Sedalia had been experiencing. Mayor John Kehde reiterated the Sedalia Fire Department was giving away one free smoke detector per residence and would install it themselves as well as batteries. They can be picked up at SFD Headquarters, 2606 W. 16th St., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or contacted at 660-826-8044.

Kehde also said if a resident is instructed to use a cooking appliance as a supplement for a primary heat source by someone, the resident should contact the city’s code enforcement department at 660-827-3000 to report it. Kehde said the city was actively working on solutions. 

“We realized we have a few of these landlords, that I’ll classify as slum landlords, and they’re obviously putting people’s lives in jeopardy,” Kehde said. “Not only the tenant but our firemen and it’s unfortunate.”

Council also: 

• Heard the OATS annual report from Tracy Walkup. 

• Heard a financial update from Shaw. 

• Heard a strategic planning presentation about the court/prosecution department from Court Administrator Lori Stewart and City Attorney Anne Gardner. 

• Approved an ordinance amending Section 7.15 of the city’s Personnel Regulations Manual relating to the city’s controlled substance and alcohol testing policy by incorporating testing requirements relating to medical marijuana. 

• Accepted an agreement with Ryan Construction Co. LLC for 2018 Water System Improvements Contract No. 2 for 13th Street from Ingram Avenue to Engineer Avenue for $427,856. 

• Approved an agreement with S&A Equipment & Builders LLC for the Katy Trail extension project for $795,287.21. Ward 3 Councilman Charles Lowe voted yes, but “with reservation.” 

• Approved professional services agreement amendment No. 2 with Alliance Water Resources regarding employment of city employees. 

• Ratified, approved and accepted an agreement with GRAM Engineering and Design LLC for construction engineering inspection services on the 2010 Water System Improvements Phase III Project for $15,360.

• Appointed Byron Matson to the Sedalia Historic Preservation Committee for a three-year term expiring July 2020; Dru Bloess to the Zoning Board of Adjustment to complete Allan Fowler’s term expiring June 2021; and reappointed George Esser and Barbara Hayden to the Tax Increment Financing Commission for four-year terms expiring in July 2023. 

• Approved a new liquor license and renewed a liquor license. 

The council adjourned to a closed-door session for legal advice and lease, sale or purchase of real estate. 

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