In an effort to help balance the budget, the Sedalia Park Board has delayed the hiring for three positions for now.

During its monthly 15-minute meeting Thursday, the Park Board approved the 2024-25 budget for Sedalia Parks & Rec. Dan VanDyne made the motion and Sydni Killion seconded it.

The positions now on hold include an aquatic technician, a program specialist for the recreation department and a maintenance person.

“We always try to balance our budget,” Epple said. “Right now, we're positive around $200,000, but that's because something always comes up, something will break, and sales tax, you don't know where that's at. We will be breaking ground for the new aquatic facility … I'm one who always wants a balanced budget, so we always try to be in the positive and make amendments if needed.”

Epple noted that “we were really looking forward to hiring those three positions, but right now, it's better to make sure we have a balanced budget, and not have to go into reserves, because that reserve is really for the aquatic facility, so we don't want to do it for personnel. So we'll hold off for now and see how we're doing in a couple of months, see where sales tax is, and we'll make changes if we need to.”

A $162,297 projection for next year's sales tax revenue is down from the previous year, resulting in a slightly tighter budget.

“That happens, that's normal,” Parks & Rec Executive Director Amy Epple said after the meeting. “Sales tax has been going up every year, so at some point, it's going to (level off) … and I talk to my staff about buying local. That's how we get a majority of our revenue is through sales tax. So instead of buying online, shop local. That's the thing I want to push, so we can continue to do great things in the parks.”

A grant facilitator (and data analyzer) was approved at the previous Park Board meeting. “There's a lot of grants out there right now for Parks & Rec,” so it is necessary to have someone who has the time to do the research. “As director, I can't give 50 percent of my time,” she noted, adding that the grant facilitator will be a three- to five-year position.

A broken front door at the Heckart Community Center is under warranty, and the part has been ordered. “We're going to get the part from the (door) company, but we're using a local company here to install it, because we have to pay for the labor. Dugan Glass is going to come in and repair it for us, instead of having someone from Kansas City come and do it, which is what the door company recommended. We'd rather have someone local here that we can talk to, and Dugan Glass has been great about doing some other projects with us already, so we like to use local when we can, but sometimes it doesn't always fit the budget,” Epple told KSIS. “We're fortunate that it will.”

She added that “it takes forever for parts to arrive. It's been broken for two-and-a-half weeks now. So, unfortunately, that's the problem there.”

The pool at the Heckart is now open for more hours duing Spring Break.

“You can come & swim until we're closed at 8:30. We usually shut down from 1:30 to 5:30 for maintenance and different things, but we're going to keep it open and let the students and teachers come and (use the facility) all day and they have somewhere to go,” Epple noted.

On a side note, the Heckart normally doesn't open for business until 10 a.m., “but sometimes I'll be in here at 8 a.m, working, and there are people who show up, and I have to say 'we don't open 'til 10, sorry!'” Epple recalled.

An underwater Easter Egg Hunt will be held at the Heckart today at 5:30 (Friday) since school is out. The event is designed for all ages.

The ever-popular Sedalia Parks & Rec's Easter Egg Hunt at Liberty Park, a free event, is scheduled for Saturday morning March 23 at 10 a.m.

Parks & Rec employees place 10,000 plastic eggs on the ground for various age groups from ages 2 through 10, “And it will be done in about 10 seconds,” Epple noted. “We will have a petting zoo as well.”

And on Monday, there's a Dog Bone Hunt at Clover Dell Park and a Teenage Flashlight Egg Hunt on Thursday, also at Clover Dell. Participants need to sign up for that event in advance, she noted.

Parks & Rec's new train engine is expected to arrive at Liberty Park soon. Epple said that a crew will travel to the site to pick it up and once it arrives in town, the train must be inspected and licensed, and staff must be trained on how to operate it.

“We've been waiting. It's been frustrating for me, but we're excited to have it, and have the support of the Park Board to be able to spend the money to get that done,” Epple stated.

A start date for when the train will be rolling down the tracks is unknown at this time, and hinges on when a state ride inspector is available. By state law, the Liberty Park Flyer is considered an amusement ride and must be inspected (just like a carnival ride) by authorities before it is allowed to operate and give rides to the public.

Teams are lining up to play baseball this summer at the historic Liberty Park Stadium. “Summertime's right around the corner (Spring begins March 19) and we're looking forward to another fun and exciting summer,” Epple said.

Speaking of summer, Parks & Rec is currently seeking to hire seasonal summer help. “Anyone 14 and older can work for us,” Epple said, noting that admission, concession and lifeguard positions are available. That is in addition to seasonal jobs with the maintenance department.

Epple encouraged everyone to attend the Heckart's two-year anniversary celebration at 2 p,m. Monday, March 18. Sue Heckart is expected to make an announcement at that time.

In addition, Republican Gov. Mike Parson will be signing copies of his autobiography No Turnin' Back in Community Room C.

The public is invited to attend.

Three Park Board members were absent from Thursday's meeting, including Connie Washington, Megan Simon and Dr. Bill Woolery. VP Roy Poynter attended the meeting via speaker phone.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

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