On Monday, April 15, during a regular council meeting, the Sedalia City Council approved the use of inmate workers from the Tipton Correctional Center, to be used in non-skilled labor similar those used at the Missouri State Fair.
The City of Sedalia will enter into a one-year contract with the Department of Corrections for the use of inmate labor.
This contract can be nullified with a 30-day notice without cause.
Three departments of the city will be using the labor and they include the airport, cemetery and the street department.
Public Works Director Bill Beck addressed the council on the scope of work to be done by the inmates.
“We would possibly no be able to use them on our sidewalk crews. We would use them more probably on the brush crew, weed eating, picking up litter and alley work.
“Over a three-month period we will see $7,000 to $10,000 worth of savings. Probably seven after you count fuel costs,” Beck explained.
Sedalia Regional Airport Director John Evans also spoke to council, citing duties to be performed by the workers.
“We have over 600 acres at the airport. We have over 10 large buildings that we need to weed eat around.
“If we had them only one day a week, we would save almost $400 a month, which is big savings,” Evans said.
Weed eating will also need to be done on both sides of the runways, weed eating around the landing lights.
Cemetery Director Roger Waters explained to the council for the need of seasonal workers.
“We typically have four seasonal employees. It has been a big struggle to retain these employees.
“What I am finding through the unemployment office is the people that apply don’t want to come to an appointment,” Waters said.
He added, “I’ve got one seasonal employee that has worked for me the past two years. My goal is to bring him in on a supervisory role to oversee the supervised workers. There will be a savings of around $9,500. It will be quite the savings.”
Nearby cities of Tipton and Versailles currently use the same program successfully and they have had no issues with the workers.
City Administrator Gary Edwards gave out information, explaining the uses and limitations of the inmate workers.
According to the information major crime offenders are not allowed to participate in the program. Inmates taking part in the program have only a short time left on their sentence.
The inmates cannot be used for skilled employment. They may also not be used in positions that require certification of licensing.
Typical uses will be mowing, weed eating, cutting brush and minor road repairs.
Inmates will not be able to operate trucks, automobiles or any other type of vehicle that requires a Missouri Driver’s License.
According to Edwards, the cost to the City of Sedalia for the program is $7.50 a day, per person.
This is in comparison to current summer help pay of minimum wage.
To use the program, the city will need to assign a person to supervise the inmates.
That person or persons must be at least 21 years old and undergo Missouri Department of Corrections training and a background check.
The State of Missouri will pay for any medical issues that may arise. They will also provide state prepared meals.
The City of Sedalia would be responsible for transporting inmates to and from the Tipton Correctional Center. City staff anticipates the cost of the vehicle to cost no more than $10,000, which is already budgeted.
In other council news, Bob Hiller presented the Sedalia City Council with a check in the amount of $12,012. The money donated came from proceeds of the D.A.R.E. Car Show from several weeks ago. It was a successful event with 120 vehicles in attendance.