Wednesday night's Sedalia City Council meeting began with three public hearings.

The hearings dealt with amending the zoning code to allow for inclusion of boutique hotels in C-2 zoning, home occupations in residential districts as a result of Missouri Bill 1662, and amending the zoning code regarding marijuana.

Community Development Director John Simmons said that his department, along with Planning and Zoning, created a definition of a boutique hotel that would limit the business to a maximum of 20 units.

Hotel Bothwell is exempt from the new ordinance because it was in downtown Sedalia before zoning began. P & Z earlier approved boutique hotels by a vote of 7-0, Simmons said.

A retirement award was presented to firefighter Daniel Bailey, who has served 20 years and 10 months with the SFD.

Driver-Engineer Bailey was accompanied Wednesday night by family members and several Sedalia firefighters. March 2 is his actual retirement date, according to SFD Chief Matt Irwin. Bailey began his firefighting career on March 12, 2002.

"He will leave a hole in this department that will be difficult to fill," remarked Chief Irwin. "His knowledge and experience will be hard to replace. I am most proud of him for always striving to be the best he can be, no matter the hardship, or obstacles placed in his path."

Chief Irwin noted that "I have met very few individuals in this career who strive to be better, learn from their mistakes, and take everything in stride to be a better person and firefighter. Tonight, I say congratulations on a career well done. I wish him the best with his new path that takes him away from us, and on to greener pastures."

Under Finance and Administration, City Administrator Kelvin Shaw gave a thorough presentation on calendar year 2022 and a fiscal year budget preview of 2024.

Shaw noted that recruiting, especially for the police and fire departments, is the largest single issue facing the City right now. SPD's roster is currently short by seven officers.

Chief Matt Wirt noted that the starting wage of a police officer in Sedalia is $42,600.

Shaw predicted a 3 - 5 percent growth in sales tax for fiscal year 2024.

Council then approved a waiver of the open container law for a Members Only concert planned for March 18 at the Hayden Liberty Center, 111 W. 5th Street, from 7 to 10 p.m. The event will begin after the Sedalia Lions Club St. Pat's event has concluded. Pettis County Deputies will perform security duty for the Members Only event. Customers may purchase alcohol and bring it outside the Liberty Center to consume. (SPD off-duty personnel will supply security for the Lions' Pub Crawl, it was noted).

Approval of a telecommunications contract with Socket Telecom, LLC, for POT (Plain Old Telephone) lines was postponed by Council Wednesday night. Staff obtained a quote from Socket that was at a cheaper rate than AT&T. Socket's rate is $35 per month. POT lines are still required for elevator emergency lines, supervisory control and data reporting lines for SCADA, and fax machines that need old technology copper wires for transmissions.

Under Public Works, Council approved an ordinance authorizing an agreement with Burns and McDonnell for large water and sewer projects, and specifically for two projects around the Prairie Hollow Development. A total of 10 proposals were received for work on larger projects.

Sedalia Regional Airport Director Derrick Dodson has learned that the City has qualified to receive $32,000 in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) grant funding to be used for operating costs for the airport to mitigate the impact of the COVID pandemic.

Council approved adding a task order to a contract with Burns & McDonnell for engineering services to upgrade the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant at a cost of $198,000.

Council approved a budget amendment to add revenue expected from Nucor Steel Sedalia for maintenance of a rail spur. The company is adding ballast to level the areas where personnel are walking to move rails cars to and from their plant. This is expected to improve safety and usability, Nucor said. Nucor offered to pay for the maintenance costs regarding the spur, including the City-owned portion.

Public Works Director Brenda Ardrey has learned on a grant opportunity to be able to fund the entire cost of replacement and improvements to the Washington Street Bridge.

The funds will come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act through the US Department of Transportation, under a program called “Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity” (RAISE). Staff recommended submitting a grant application.

Under Public Safety, the Sedalia Fire Department was notified they were awarded a grant to provide matching funds to purchase two machines that removes toxins from firefighter's turnout gear when they respond to fire scenes. The equipment meets the NFPA specs, it was noted.

Under Community Development, Council approved three ordinances relating to the public hearings held at the start of the meeting.

Two liquor licenses were renewed Monday night, including Chris Robinson dba Osage Gun & Pawn 116 West Main, for packaged liquor, $150; and Erica Eisenmenger dba Ivory Grille, LLC, 317 South Ohio, for sidewalk consumption liquor, $50.
Sedalia City Council will meet again March 6. The public is invited.

Mayor Pro Tem Tina Boggess led Wednesday night's two-hour meeting in Mayor Dawson's absence. Also absent was Second Ward Councilman Chris Marshall.

A budget work session is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m.

And on March 20, a public hearing regarding the final FY 2024 budget will be held. Council needs to approve a budget by March 31 or sooner, if possible.

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