The City of Sedalia held a work session focusing on the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 on Monday night.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

The two-hour meeting covered all categories of the proposed record-high $38 million budget. City Administrator Gary Edwards summarized the proceedings, stating that the meeting was very productive in the sense that he received strong direction from the City Council on all aspects of the budget.

"It's something that we will make work, one way or the other. And it certainly is workable, it just impacts future years and that can be unsustainable if you don't begin to cut back," said Edwards, who is a member of the City's budget team, along with Finance Director Kelvin Shaw and Mayor Stephen J. Galliher.

"It's something that we have to watch throughout the year," he said, noting that the City's budget used to cruise along at around $30 million. But the new budget will be one that will continue to provide a high level of services for the citizens of Sedalia, Edwards promised.

The city administrator noted that Council members have an excellent grasp of the citizens' thoughts and ideas and he appreciates the feedback. "They are out in the community and hear from their constituents every day. Consequently, their opinion on what we need to put money toward and what we need to take money away from, are excellent opinions, and staff has to follow those opinions, because they are getting it directly from citizens, so it makes perfect sense," Edwards told KSIS.

"The budget is a policy-making document, it's more than just a numbers document, but it's something you must monitor throughout the year," he said, " so we're not caught by surprise."

In his remarks, Shaw noted that the City enjoyed a 2.4 percent increase in sales tax revenue this year over last year. A 1.5 percent increase is projected for next year. "We want to be good stewards of taxpayers' money," he said, adding that "the budget is a tool we use to help us manage."

With 72 percent of the current general revenue fund devoted to personnel costs, the proposed budget expects to eat up 83 percent, Shaw noted. "That determines your flexibility." In the starting draft, expenditures outweighed revenue by some $280,000 and by the time the Council made it through each department, the figured ballooned to around $414,000. "We cannot sustain that," he told the Council.

That deficit needs to be whittled down to zero by midterm, Shaw added.

Mayor Galliher stressed that all of the department heads were "wonderful" to deal with during the budget request process. "No one asked for anything unreasonable," he said.

The Sedalia Police Department requested two additional patrol officers, two communications officers and four patrol cars. That was ultimately amended to two patrol officers and one communications officer, and three cars. Police Chief John DeGonia explained that one of the cars would be paid for through insurance reimbursement money after one cruiser was totaled in an accident, but it was the other driver's fault. He further noted that he has been in touch with PCAD Pettis County Ambulance District), which may offer to pay for one communications officer.

The cost of three patrol cars with outfitting comes to around $103,000, explained Commander Larry Ward. But with some juggling, that figure can be scaled down to about $95,000 by not outfitting one of the new cars.

Council heard from Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld, who said that by 2018, a new pumper truck should be placed into service. That truck is expected to cost around $600,000. That vehicle is part of the 15-year replacement scheduled, he noted, adding that the previously-agreed-upon schedule allows for replacing one truck every five years.

For his department, City Sexton Roger Waters is requesting a truck to replace the 1993 dump truck that is "an accident waiting to happen."  Councilman Jeff Leeman asked Waters how often the truck is used, and he replied that is gets used in over 100 services every year. The truck has a short wheel base to accommodate the narrow passages at the cemetery, located on North Engineer. Waters noted that the cemetery also uses the old truck to blade away the snow during bad weather instead of requesting a City snowplow truck to do the work, knowing how busy Street and Alley are during a snowstorm.

Waters requested $40,000 to replace the aging vehicle. The idea of buying a state surplus vehicle for the cemetery was suggested to Waters as well as Andy Burt of Code Enforcement for his department's vehicle needs. Burt asked for $47,00 for two vehicles. Both department heads said they would look into it.

Other monetary requests came from SDDI ($30,000), Scott Joplin Foundation ($10,000), EDSPC ($130,000, a $2,500 increase),  Whiteman Area Leadership Council ($3,000), Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce Fireworks Display ($2,125, and increase from $1,000), Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade ($1,000) and OATS Transportation ($30,000, a $5,000 increase).

Funding to support such entities as the Sedalia Senior Center (Care Connection), the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA) and the Boys & Girls Club of West Central Missouri, Inc., is a month-to-month proposition, Edwards noted.

The second public hearing on the budget is on March 6 and final budget approval is scheduled for March 20, according to the City's website.

In addition, the Council approved two block grant agreements between the City and the Missouri Highways & Transportation Commission -- one for design apron construction and north hangar expansion at Sedalia Regional Airport, and one for a 5/23 runway study, airport layout plan and environmental assessment. The first one was approved unanimously, while the second one was passed 5-3, but opposed by Third Ward Councilmen Bob Cross and Don Meier, and First Ward Councilman Jeff Leeman.

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