Sunday, October 15, 2017

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT




BY GREG WALTERS
Tempers Flare as 
Budget is Approved
The Raytown Board of Aldermen approved the 2017-2018 Fiscal Budget for the City of Raytown last Tuesday, October 10th at a work session of the Board.

The meeting began with comments from Ward 3 Alderman Mark Moore, began the meeting with a short speech in which he clearly addressed the need for those in management positions to be open and honest with those who will be affected by budget cuts. His comments were leveled at the Chief of Police and members of his command staff, as well as the Mayor in his explanation of the need for honest and open communication between employee and their immediate supervisors.

Alderman Moore's speech begins at the 29:42 mark of the recording.

USE THIS LINK . . . ALDERMAN MOORE'S SPEECH

Tempers Flare
In the week lead up to the approval of the budget. Most notable were two incidents involving Chief of Police Jim Lynch. Earlier in the week he had confronted City Finance Director Briana Burrichter over a management chart she had constructed for the Police Department. The Board of Aldermen had instructed the Finance Director and the City Administrator to propose organization charts for the police.

Finance Director Biurricheter organization chart allowed for 47 sworn officers within the Department. The Police Department's chart allowed for 41 members.

According to Ward 5 Aldermen Mims and Moore, Ms. Burrichter entered the City Clerk’s office in tears because the Chief of Police had threatened to have the Fraternal Order of Police bring a lawsuit against the Finance Director for following the Board’s instructions.

The second incident occurred after Alderman Moore made his speech at the beginning of the Board of Aldermen’s Work Session. When Moore had finished, he explained (he) had to return to his job.

At that point Lynch had left the Council Chambers to confront Moore. The two met up with each other in the hallway behind the Council Chambers.

A very loud argument ensued that could be heard in the Council Chambers. Ward 5 Alderman Bonnaye Mims left the Chambers to see what was going on (her seat is next to the door leading into the hallway). According to Mims, Lynch angrily thrust a finger in her direction and shouted at her to leave the hallway.

Moore and Lynch took their discussion outside of the building.

When asked what had happened Moore smiled with his reply, "it was just two Alpha males having a discussion."

Paul’s Rant
Other items of interest . . .
The 2017-2018 Budget is passed. But there are still some lose ends that need to be tied up.

GPS IN POLICE VEHICLES: It has been over a month since the Board directed that GPS tracking devices be placed in police vehicles. In what has been explained as an “over-sight” by some city officials, the line item funding the GPS tracking has been removed from the budget. Since the Board has already approved the installation of GPS tracking, it is a certainty they will amend the budget to provide the funding.

ALDERMAN JIM AZIERE: . . . said what! The senior member of the Raytown Board of Aldermen, Jim Aziere was interviewed by KSHB TV 41 about the current budget crisis. In the interview he told the reporter Raytown does not have the money to plow snow off the streets (because the budget is so tight).  Not true. Snow removal is in budgeted in the 2017 / 2018 budget. It is, in part, because of the budget cuts of all city departments, including the police, that snow removal remains in the budget.

NOTE to KSBH-TV: The city budget was cut $2,754,590, not 3.5 million. Commissioned officers were cut by 12 not 30. If you need some more honest numbers on the budget cuts, please visit with the City Administrator. He has the accurate facts.

To view Aziere's interview use this link AZIERE

JASON GREENE OFFERS AMENDMENT: The last discussion item before the Board unanimously approved the budget was at item offered by Ward 2 Alderman Greene on some last minute adjustments to the budget. Problem is, Greene never formally amended the budget. Nor was there a second to his suggestions. What that means is if Greene’s amendments (which would have affected the budget by over $100,000) will have to be amended into the document at a later date for them to take effect.



POLICE ASK FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR PAYROLL: Chief of Police Jim:Lynch is asking for an additional $294,310.00 to meet payroll expense for the current year which ends October 31, 2017. If ever there was a reason to have both a reserve and a contingency budget, this item pretty much explains it. What it means is because of the lack of proper departmental management, the Police Department has over-spent the current budget year fund for payroll by over a quarter of a million dollars!

I watched the public meetings on the budget. There were many individuals who argued the police are best at doing the police work and the Board of Aldermen should just fund the needs of he Department and let them go on about their business.

They may have a point. Perhaps the Police know best how to keep the streets safe. But this budget requests illustrates the need for over-sight in money management. It also shows the dire financial condition of the city.

Budget Questions Answered BY GREG WALTERS
During the past few months all of us have read different figures of how much the city shortfall in the budget is . . . how many personnel will be cut from city payroll.
It is frustrating to hear so many items discussed as facts that turn out to be bogus. Now the budget is passed. The dust has settled and it can more clearly be seen as to what has actually been done. The numbers were provided by the City Administrator’s office.

HOW MUCH WAS CUT TO BALANCE THE CITY BUDGET?
The proposed budget from all city departments was reduced by $2,754,590.00. The final figure balances the city’s budget for the 2017 / 2018 Fiscal Year.

HOW MANY POLICE EMPLOYEES WERE CUT?
12 – Sworn officers*
10 – Civilian positions
3   – Part-time civilian positions

*During the budget debates and negotiations, police spokesmen often used higher numbers to show how many “positions” were being lost by the Department. The “12 sworn officers” reflects the number of officers who either lost jobs or are retiring from the force.The rest of the often repeated "30 positions lost" were unfilled positions and no jobs were ever in jeopardy of being lost.

Alderman Eric Teeman Resigns
To Ward 5 Raytown Residents, Mayor Michael McDonough,
Board of Alderman, and City Staff:

After much discussion and contemplation, I regretfully must resign my position as Alderman for Ward 5 in Raytown effective November 7, 2017. I have dedicated a lot of time to helping the Mayor, Board of Alderman, and city staff work to grow and improve Raytown. It has been a great honor to serve with such fine men and women. There have been ups and there have been downs. There have been many, many heated debates and tough decisions. It has been a wonderful experience. However, over the last 12 months my professional life has taken a dramatic and unforeseen turn and for that reason I must resign my position.

I firmly believe that I must do what is right for my family first and foremost. Everything else will always take a back seat to the well-being of my family. The opportunity that has been presented to me will require my full attention. My wife and I have decided that this opportunity is too good for me and my family to pass up. With that being the case, it would be a disservice to the constituents of Ward 5 to continue on in my post, since I will be unable to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to keep myself informed and educated on the issues that are confronting the city.

This has been a very difficult decision for me. I do not like to quit anything I start. It is not how I was raised and it is not how I raise my children. However, there is also only so much time in the day and we all have to sleep. The position of Alderman deserves a level of attention that I will not be able to continue to provide for the residents of Ward 5. Please accept my resignation and my apology for needing to do so.

Sincerely,
Eric Teeman

To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT

Sunday, October 8, 2017

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT




BY GREG WALTERS
“The Scars will take
a Long Time to Heal”
“The scars from the battle over the budget crisis at City Hall will take a long time to heal”. This is not my observation. It was the observation shared with me by a friend of Mary Jane VanBuskirk’s while we talked over recent events at City Hall.

It is hard not agree with the observation. Consider the following story:

Mary Jane Van Buskirk is the wife of Ward 4 Alderman Bill Van Buskirk. She is outspoken, informed and certainly not afraid to share her opinion. All of those are qualities that I find endearing in politicians. And, make no mistake about it. Mary Jane is a politician. She served a number of terms on the Jackson County Republican Committee. Four years ago she ran for Alderman and lost in a very close race against Steve Meyers.

Each year the Raytown Police Department holds a benefit golf tournament to raise funds for two local charities. The Raytown Emergency Assistance Program (REAP) and the Raytown Police Benefit Fund.

Even though there is a contentious budget being hammered out at city hall – life goes on. And so did this year’s Benefit Golf Tournament.

As in many previous years, her husband, Ward 4 Alderman Bill VanBuskirk, made a donation to the cause and set aside time to play in the tournament. 

According to Alderman Van Buskirk, Police Chief Jim Lynch contacted him and said him he would not be welcome at the tournament and said he was returning his check.

For reasons that are not clear. Mayor Michael McDonough mailed Bill’s check back to him.

Mary Jane personally returned the check back to the Mayor asking him to at accept the check as a donation to REAP.

This time the check was accepted.

There is a back story to this string of events.

Alderman Bill VanBuskirk is a former sworn officer of the Raytown Police Department who served as a Reserve Officer in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

With that background it should come to know surprise that he has a record of being very supportive of the Raytown Police Department.

But he is also a realist. His comments at public meetings have always been fact based and on target. If you go back and listen to recent meetings you will find that while sympathetic to police needs, he is also aware of the fiscal reality the city is very close to bankruptcy. They have been working hard to reduce a 2.5 million dollar deficit to bring the city’s budget into the black. 

The returning of his donation to REAP by Jim Lynch and Mike McDonough is mean spirited and vindictive.

Van Buskirk has a duty as an Alderman to take a stand in what is best for Raytown. He knows the times will be tough going ahead. He also knows that if the city does not change its free-spending ways Raytown’s future will be hopeless. Even worse than the darkest scare tactics being used by those who would ignore the reality of city’s predicament.

It will take leaders like VanBuskirk to weather this storm. For all of Raytown's sake, let’s hope the other members hold the line in this year’s budget proceedings.

The scars from what is going on at City Hall will take a long time to heal.


Reserve Funds and
Contingency Funds Explained
After attending two budget hearings and listening to what the public has had to say it is very clear there are many who are confused over two funds in the city’s budget.

One of those funds is the city’s reserve. The city is required by  law to hold 17% of its funds in reserve. This reserve is a fund that can be spent for emergency situations of epic proportions such as ice storms, flooding, tornado or high velocity wind damage that go beyond the traditional expectation of those who write the budget.

Typically, the Reserve Fund can and has been tapped in the past for such situations. Usually these events can be described as natural disasters.

The city also sets up a Contingency Fund. The money from the contingency fund is for unbudgeted items that are known to need attention, but are not budgeted because they may or may not yet be designed, built or concluded during the fiscal year.

The following examples are projects that may be paid for by the Contingency Fund. The city is aware of the need. The decision to build is tempered with the availability of funds.

A sink hole recently developed at The Assembly of God Church located on 350 High Way. The sinkhole was caused by storm water runoff from city property. The city was liable for the damage done to the church property. The repair to the property cost the city $85,000.00.

The 83rd Street Bridge west of Raytown Road is in very poor shape. The city has applied for, and received a grant to help in rebuilding the bridge. But even with the grant the cost to the city will easily run into six figures. If the bridge deteriorates to the point of needing repairs before it is rebuilt, the Contingency Fund will be where they go for the funds.

Take a drive on 59th Street (west of Raytown Road to Blue Ridge Cutoff. You will notice signs facing the east and west bound lanes warning motorists to slow down. The reason the city had the signs placed there is because the street is failing.

The extremely heavy rainfall this past summer and three water main breaks, has undermined the sub-surface of the road surface. The result is an uneven road surface that is deteriorating at rapid pace. What used to be a soft rolling feel under your wheels as you drive the failed roadway is now a markedly bumpy ride with asphalt surface starting to break apart.

We asked Neal Clevenger of the Raytown Water Company how much it would cost to repair and/or replace the roadway properly. Clevenger owns the Raytown Water Company.

The Raytown Water Company’s insurance provider is in negotiations with the city to determine the cost and responsibility of repairing the street. The water company has some responsibility due to the water main breaks. However, satellite images of the road show it was deteriorating before the water mains broke.

The cost of rebuilding a street the size of 59th (which is a four lane structure with sidewalks) over an area longer than a football field will be expensive. If  repair work is needed on the surface until a permanent solution is found, the Contingency Fund is probably where the money will come from.

City Hall is well aware of the mainteance problems. They do not have to be addressed today. But if the bridge becomes unsafe for traffic, if 59th Street collapses, the problem will have to be addressed. These are not natural disasters. They are maintenance items. It is why Contingency Funds are created.

Some would say that in a natural disaster the city can depend upon FEMA to come to the rescue. Maybe, if you are lucky. Last Spring high winds ripped through Raytown downing many trees and power lines. FEMA did not ride to the rescue.

Luck is for children and those who like to shoot dice. Realistic people plan ahead. Raytowner’s should count themselves lucky to have a Board of Aldermen who are doing just that.


Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS

Some thoughts as I watch this year’s budget finally coming together.

PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE GOOD . . . BUT . . .

Watching the last City Council meeting was painful. The Board took a lot slings and arrows. The Mayor had declared Board members were not respond to comments from the public.

Which is a mistake . . . because if was very clear that many who spoke are totally confused and unaware of all the facts. Board members could have turned the meeting into an educational event for the public. The Mayor’s ruling allowed some hysterical comments to go unchallenged actually increased the amount of misinformation and confusion.

PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE FOR RAYTOWNERS . . .

One speaker has made his presence known at the last two public hearings on the city budget. He usually starts his comments by praising the police. But that is short-lived. Soon after, he begins to attack the governing body. He calls them liars and impugns their integrity. 

Then he went home to Lee’s Summit.

Public comments are a good thing. It allows the air to be cleared.

But allowing outsiders to muddy the water and not allowing communication between the Board and the public serves no purpose. Effective communication is a two way street.

The practice of not allowing discussion between the public and its elected officials began under former Mayor David Bower. Mayor McDonough is making a mistake by copying Bower’s lead.

The Board and Mayor should sit down and come up with some rules that allow discourse between elected officials and the public. Perhaps moving public comments to work sessions would be a simple solution. That way the Board could concentrate on the nuts and bolts of city business during their business sessions. Raytowners should be allowed to address the Board.

If there are professional spokesmen who wish to address the Board, they should go to the City Hall to set an appointment as a lobbyist to address the Board.

City and Fire District Settle Law Suits
The Raytown Fire Protection District and the City of Raytown are reported to have settled the law suit between the two governing bodies over the collection of sales tax and property tax payments made to fund what is commonly known as the Walmart TIF on 350 Highway.

The City had sued the Fire District because the District was with-holding payments to the TIF Fund. The Fire District counter-sued the city for trying to enforce a tax obligation the District claimed it has already met.

Details of the settlement are not yet public. As soon as they are released we will report them on this page. 

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting
October 2, 2017

Chief Lynch said the proceeds of the Annual Golf Tournament netted $10,563 to benefit REAP.

Mayor McDonough said October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Tony Jacob thanked Tom Cole for answering all the questions on the City’s Facebook page.  The Aldermen have repeatedly said if the residents need anything, just call.   He said only a few aldermen actually respond to the residents. Catherine Hoffman said she was shocked by the last minute attempt to take over the police department.  It appears the Board has a vendetta against the police department.  When her business was robbed it was the police department, not the Board of Aldermen that helped her. Patty Harms said when the Board talked about the TIF originally it was originally revealed that if revenues fell short, the city would be on the hook for large payments. Matthew Plumber said when he wanted to move, he could have gone anywhere.  He chose Raytown.  He understands the fiscal crisis the Board faces.  He urged the Board to stand strong and balance the budget.  James Bradford said the financial problems have not been addressed by past Boards.  The police department may lose officers and that’s unfortunate, but a balanced budget is the priority. Phyllis Goforth asked the Board to attend the police academy.  Chad McCoy said he is the floor manager at Walmart.  He wanted to clear up some misconceptions.  He said Walmart collects $1.7 million in sales tax and pays around $430,000 in property tax.  Walmart pays for all off-duty police officers.  They employee over 300 people, many of whom are Raytown residents.  He said last year, Walmart contributed over $11,000 to local non-profit organizations. Jarrod Rogers said he is a Raytown police officer.  He just wanted the Board to see the face of who they are affecting. Rick Inglima, with the FOP, said the aldermen are liars if they say they support the police department.  He thinks the Board wants to run the department. Dr. Thomas Murray said we need more police officers and the Board needs to increase taxes or whatever in order to keep the police officers. Deanna Rhodes said there is a lot of crime in Raytown and the Board should not cut the police budget. Michael Bassett said he is a retired police officer.  People outside Raytown think this is a bad place to live.  That’s because they don’t know Raytown.  The budget cuts will kill new money coming in. Derek Rice said we have a budget to balance, but the Board is not listening to people who elected you.  Brady Wilmoth said the budget cuts will adversely affect the police department.  Sam Dawson understands the Board is trying to fix the problems that fell in their lap.  However, he is against cutting the police budget.  Angel Mathis said other agencies are approaching Raytown police officers because they think the officers are losing their jobs.  Jeanette Gentry said the ordinances is smoke and mirrors.  The aldermen should be the solution, not the problem.  Frank McDevitt is president of the Raytown Police Officers Association.  He said the officers who are here want to be here.  He can work for Johnson County for $13,000 more each year.

Mayor McDonough said people have asked him why the budget problems are all of a sudden a surprise.  He said before that, he made the statement that the city was solid and there were no financial problems.  That information came from someone who used to work for the city.
Obviously that information was wrong.  He said certain aldermen have asked if he was going to wear a badge or be the mayor.  He said he is the mayor.  He was elected by the people of Raytown.  His first duty is to protect the people.  He said Alderman Moore had the ordinance put on the agenda and failed to inform the mayor or the city administrator.  The Chief of Police is elected and should be allowed to run the department. 

The Board passed a resolution amending the Budget to reallocate various expenditures between designated funds. Throughout the year staff has been monitoring the budget monthly. The following are the transfers staff believes need to occur to adjust for the activity that has occurred throughout the year.

2016-2017 Year End Budget Adjustments

TIF Fund 210

Expense:

Professional Services 210-00-00-100-52250                         $60,000

Fund Balance:

Unrestricted Fund Balance 210-00-00-100-39999                 $60,000

Capital Improvement 402

Revenue:

Ditzler CID Loan 402-00-00-100-43707                                             $70,000

Interest 402-00-00-100-46101                                                            $  2,500

Investment Income 402-00-00-100-46102                             $  2,100

Expense:

Professional Services 402-00-00-100-52250                         $ 4,000



The Board tabled until October 10 a resolution approving the budget .To view the budget, click on CITY BUDGET

Alderman Bonnaye Mims said she didn’t ask the staff to reorganize the police department.  That is Chief Lynch’s job.  She wanted them to do it.  She didn’t say anything about cutting jobs.  That came from Chief Lynch to his people.  She asked they not touch the police officers because the department is top heavy.  The first thing Chief Lynch did was to start cutting line officers.  Several aldermen gave examples of cost savings items to balance the budget.

An interesting read . . .
The following story was linked to the blog portion of the Raytown Report. The story was published in Reuters.

It is a story with some similarities between what is unfolding in Raytown and what is happening in San Bernadino, California. Some similarities, but not many . . . to begin with Sacramento is much larger than Raytown and technically not a suburb.

It does explain something that shows the horrors of a municipality that is being forced down the road to bankruptcy.

To read the story, use this link: Reuters

To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT