Sunday, October 14, 2018

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Raytown Board Considers
Re-Financing of TIF Bonds
The Raytown Board of Aldermen will hold its first reading of an ordinance to re- finance the 350 Live TIF Bonds at Tuesday night’s meeting. The anchor of the TIF project on 350 Highway Walmart.

The TIF bond obligation is the main reason Raytown has had tight budgets since the bonds were issued in 2007. The original amount of the TIF project was $39,990,000.00. Despite over ten years of payments on the debt, the City still owes $31,240,000.00.

The proposal before the Board of Aldermen would re-finance the loan at a rate of 4.5%. Most municipal bonds in Missouri are offered around 3%. The high rate reflects the amount of risk investors expose their funds to by investing in the bonds. Unlike the current bonds, the new issue of bonds will not be backed by the good faith of the city.

The length of term for the new financing extends the debt period required by two years (moving the final payment from 2028 to 2030).

This is a very important decision that will have a huge impact on everyone living in Raytown. The people of Raytown and their representatives on the Board of Aldermen have had little opportunity to explain and discuss this very important vote publicly.

A Little Transparency Please
The information given in the city’s official Ordinance Packet does little to shed light on the additional costs taxpayers will be liable for if the bonds are re-financed.

It is understood the Board is taking this action to lessen the cost of future TIF payments. What has not been released is how much more the city will be paying due to a higher interest rate and an extended timeline on the debt.

The people in Raytown deserve to know answers to such questions. Those answers should be made publicly by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.. They should do so in a timely manner and give the people they serve at least a week to learn of the commitment elected officials are making for them.

The following story is about an editorial the Kansas City Star published on Sunday, October 14, 2018). It’s title . . .

KC voters keep raising their own taxes. When will it be too much?
“The owner of a $200,000 home in Kansas City, Earning $50,000 in salary, and spending $12,000 on taxable goods inside the city, will pay an additional $800 this year for local taxes approved by voters just since 2013.”

We wondered, where does Raytown match up in this equation? The answer was surprising. We compared the sales tax and property tax rates of the cities.

Kansas City’s sales tax rate . . . . .  8.6%
Raytown’s sales tax rate . . . . . . . . 8.35%*
*The sales tax rate is misleading. When you consider that the sales tax rate at Walmart on 350 Highway is over 10% -- AND – that Walmart creates close to 30% of the sales tax revenue in Raytown, the true sales tax rate in Raytown is considerably higher.

We compared Kansas City’s property tax levy to Raytown’s property tax levy. We took care to include the Raytown School District levy in the equation for those living in Raytown and Kansas City.

Kansas City’s property tax levy . . . . . .  9.2446
Raytown’s property tax levy . . . . . . . . . 9.1526

Then we checked other area cities and found that Raytown is in the upper tier of tax levies. In general, Kansas City leads the pack with the highest tax rates. The only exception(s) are lake communities in the metropolitan area.
The Star wrote, “as a result, Kansas City ‘s overall tax burden is high. According to a well-respected study, the city ranks eighth in the country in overall state and local tax burden for a family earning $50,000 a year.”

“In Kansas City, that family paid $5,444 in state and local taxes in 2016 – more than Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, even New York City.”

Given Raytown’s ranking in tax rates in the Kansas City area, the statistics show how deeply we are affected by high taxes in Raytown.

Remember these facts next time someone tells you how low your taxes are in Raytown.

Speaking of Taxes . . . VOTER BEWARE!
There is a state-wide Missouri Gasoline Tax increase on the November ballot. Voters would be wise to carefully read the fine print. The gasoline tax is not a low impact tax.

The first year of the tax increase will cost the average driver about $26 a year. However, once the tax is fully implemented the cost per year balloons to $104.00 annually.

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting
October 2, 2018

Tony Jacob spoke documentation he has found from Freedom of Information requests on time card and payroll irregularities at City Hall. Most of the examples he gave were found in the Raytown Police Department. He said you can view the documents by going to his website, Real Raytown.

John Ivey spoke about his hope for improved roadway system in eastern Jackson County.

Larry Marks spoke on behalf of senior citizens and those on limited fixed incomes against the ever increasing property tax rates in Raytown. He said Jackson County recently raised its property tax levy by 10%. His fear is that people will be driven out of Raytown by the high taxes, particularly on real estate and personal property.

Mayor McDonough proclaimed October to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Board passed an ordinance amending the recommended sewer rate user fee to provide coverage for necessary operational, capital, treatment and debt expenses. Over the past several years, sewer treatment costs have risen for treatment services provided by Kansas City Missouri and for Little Blue Valley Sewer District provided services. For several years, City staff was able to maintain the City rate through the implementation of numerous cost-saving programs. In order to be compliant with funding requirements associated with debt issued for the sewer fund the sewer rate will need to be increased approximately 10% across the board. This will ensure sustainability of the fund. Based on historical increases from KCMO and LBVSD there will be additional increases needed in future years.

The Board passed a resolution approving an amended formal and comprehensive schedule of fees and charges for the sanitary sewer adjustment charges. Consumption rates along with expenses have continued to increase and the City feels that these charges should be updated to reflect the current rates and expenses that the City incurs. These sewer charges are added to the customer’s sewer accounts for the following adjustments: Deposits on New Accounts, Water On/Off due to lack of payment and Contract Setup Fee.

Current Rates            Proposed FY19 Rates
Residential                        $100.00                            $135.00
Commercial                       $100.00                            $300.00 

Water On/Off
Residential                         $25.00                              $25.00
Commercial                        $25.00                              $25.00

Contract Setup Fee
Residential                          No Charges                     $25.00
Commercial                         No Charges                     $50.00

Some accounts such as Commercial, Group Homes, and Multi-Family need to be evaluated by account for deposit amounts to reflect 2X monthly usage.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the city administrator to enter into an agreement with Radmacher Brothers Excavating Company for the 59th street repair project in an amount not to exceed $392,292.The Public Works Department received 3 sealed bids that were opened on Tuesday, August 14 at 2:00 p.m. regarding the 59th Street Repair Project and Radmacher Brothers Excavating Company was the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder with a total bid of $341,123.00 and is being recommended for approval. The base bid was in the amount of $341,123.00. Staff is requesting purchasing authority up to $392,292.00 to accommodate for potential change orders. This is an additional 15% of the total bid cost. Construction inspection services will be performed with City staff.

The Board passed a resolution amending the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget to reallocate various expenditures between designated funds. Throughout the year staff has been monitoring the budget monthly. 

Street Corner Panhandlers
Members of the Kansas City / City Council have recently attracted headlines because of their efforts to crack down on street corner pan-handling.  You will find this lawful “begging” on street corners in almost every city in the metropolitan area. Public begging is usually defended as a First Amendment Right of Free Speech by groups like the ACLU.

You rarely see this form of pan-handling in Raytown.

Do you ever wonder why?

Down Memory Lane . . .
In 1998 I had been re-elected to the Board of Aldermen after a two year absence due to an election I lost in 1996 by three votes (ouch!).

One of the Board’s early agenda items in 1998 was an attempt to regulate soliciting in Raytown. The Board had crafted a rather lengthy ordinance regulating (unsolicited) salespeople calling door to door in Raytown.

A side issue of the ordinance dealt with the much more ticklish problem of people soliciting funds from car drivers on street corners. Just as in Kansas City, we were aware of First Amendment Rights blocking the way to regulate the practice.

I remember pondering some of the nuances of the ordinance as I was drove up to the intersection of Raytown Road and 350 Highway.

The light was red. There was a group about ten people, most of them minors, were darting between cars with buckets asking people for donations.

When the light turned green, I saw a number of those small children scamper between cars to get back to the safety of sidewalk. Some were so young you could barely see them as they passed between larger vehicles.

It was as if a light had been turned on burning away the darkness.

The “soliciting ordinance” was not about First Amendment rights. It was about public safety.

So I went back to the Board with an idea to include a subsection to the ordinance regarding soliciting on the public right of way. Not one to do things halfway, we ended up putting some teeth in the ordinance.

We decided to require prospective solicitors to apply for a permit from City Hall. The application process was free of charge, but did require a background check of the applicant. Adult supervision of children and safety vests were to be worn by street solicitors and that such activity could only be done during daylight hours. (For a complete list of the requirements see the link following this story.)

The Vote on the Ordinance
was not Without Drama
The Raytown Board of Aldermen is made up of ten members. One of the first things you learn is the difficulty of pleasing all ten members at one time.

The final vote on the soliciting ordinance was no exception.

Some Aldermen were picking away at the section covering street corner soliciting. Their target was the requirement of orange safety vests to be worn by solicitors.

In their objections they asked that the city pay for the safety vests. As one of the sponsors of the ordinance I felt the objections would undercut the underlying purpose of the bill.

While this discussion was going on Sue Frank entered the Council Chamber and threw down a stack of two dozen safety vests.

She had been watching the meeting on television at home and saw what was going on. She jumped in her car, drove up to Walmart, and bought all the vests they had.

Smiling at the members of the Board Ms. Frank said, “Here are your vests. Now you can vote.”

The ordinance passed unanimously.

If the Council meeting were a baseball game it would, have been appropriate for members of the Board to “tip their hat” to the future Mayor for her surprise visit to the Council Chambers that night.

Politics and politicians are often viewed in a bad light. As this story illustrates, “politics” is the art of finding solutions to problems facing each and every one of us.

By working together the Board of Aldermen was able to forge an ordinance that addressed a problem so well, that street corner soliciting on Raytown streets is a rare event.

The soliciting ordinance has been amended once to shift the responsibility of background checks from the Raytown Police Department to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Other than that change, the soliciting ordinance has withstood the test of time. It remains as it was written nearly 20 years ago.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The events of this story took place before Sue Frank ran for public office. Sue and I were sometimes political opponents, sometimes political allies. I remember one conversation she and I had after she had finished her term in office. I told her she had been difficult to work with at times during her two term(s) as Mayor. She leveled her stare at me and said, “Greg, you gave as good as you got.”  Guess it just goes to show how politics can blur perception.
Use this link to view SOLICITATION ORDINANCE

Sunday, September 30, 2018

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Three men shot
to death Sunday
in Raytown
KSHB TV 41    SEPTEMBER 30, 2018    By Tod PalmerCat Reid

Raytown police responded to a shots-fired call in the 11000 block of East 74th Terrace shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. The caller told responding officers there appeared to be bodies on the ground in front of a residence. Arriving officers discovered three dead suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.

Ambulance Service
turned over to
Raytown Fire District
At a Special Meeting of the Raytown Board of Aldermen last Tuesday, the operation and management of the Raytown Ambulance Service was formally handed over to the Fire District effective in November 17, 2018.

The vote for the change in management was eight to two with Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere and Ward 4 Alderman Bill VanBuskirk casting the two no votes on the issue.

Voters in Raytown will have the final say on the matter. State law requires voters approve the transfer of the service from the City to the Fire District. That election is tentatively set to be held in April, 2019.

Another election will be held to determine if voters wish to raise the Fire District tax levy on Real Estate and Personal Property to help fund the service. A date has not been set for the tax increase election. The next available date set aside for municipal elections by the Jackson County Election Board would be April of 2020.

A number of years ago the voters in Raytown were sold a Public Safety Sales Tax. Voters were promised revenue from the sales tax would be specifically earmarked for use by police and ambulance service.

FOLLOW THE MONEY . . . The reality of the situation is told in the 2017-2018 city budget. Here is how much revenue was collected and how it was allocated.

Public Safety Sales Tax Revenue        $1,654,380.00
Budgeted for TIF debt                          $   300,000.00 * 
Allocated to the Raytown PD               $1,140,451.00
Allocated to the Ambulance Service    $   109,853.00
*The $300,000 payment is part of the city's obligation to pay down the debt of the Raytown Live Tax District (commonly known as the Walmart TIF)

These numbers show only $109,853 of $1,654,380 raised was allocated to the Ambulance Service. The rest, $1,140,451, went to the police department.

Raytown Voters were promised the tax revenue from the Public Safety Sales Tax would solve the city’s funding problems for the Ambulance and Police. City Hall then shifted nearly all of the money over to the Police Department.

City officials approved a budget that literally stripped all but $109 thousand dollars from the Ambulance Service. This “crisis” was created by City Hall.

The Fire District has gone on record stating the cost related to running the ambulance service in Raytown will be an additional .13 to .19 cent levy increase on Real Estate and Personal Property Taxes.

Raytown taxpayers have kept their part of the bargain. City Hall should keep its end of the deal as well.

This pattern of “make a promise . . . break a promise” is not new at Raytown City Hall.

Readers will remember the debacle over the Parks / Storm Sewer Sales Tax ended up being used exclusively for parks for five years.

Voters were told the sale tax was to be "split" between Parks and Storm Sewer needs. After five years the Board of Aldermen finally "split" the tax receipts. The current City Council set the "split" at 75% Parks and 25% Storm Sewer.

Voters have already approved and are already paying an increased sales tax for funding of the Ambulance Service. They should not have to pay another tax because city hall has mismanaged the funds of the Public Safety Tax.

Security Cameras
at Coleman Park
Coleman Park leads other Raytown City Parks in two categories.

  • Statistically speaking – it is Raytown’s most popular park. It is home to a senior softball league and its three shelter houses are full with gatherings every weekend.
  • Coleman Park also leads in city ordinance violations. Those include curfew violations, excessive noise violations, the use of electronically amplified music and vandalism.

In an effort to help enforce city ordinances at the park the Park Board has installed high definition cameras around the park. The cameras can read license plates and can be used to identify those who participate in illegal activities at the park.

Sink Hole Forming at
59TH Terrace and Hunter Street
Those living near 59th Terrace and Hunter Street first noticed the street was always wet on the southwest corner of 59th Terrace and Hunter Street.

Last June we informed the city of the problem. They immediately sent out crews who took samples from the water. According to the report, the wet area was caused by a leaking water line.

This morning we took the time to document the damage to the street. The street has sunk at least 16” (measured from the top of the curb). On the other side of the curb, the ground has dropped nearly two feet.

The depth of the hole has eroded past the frost line of the curb.

This means that a simple repair of a leaking water line has now grown into a project in which a section of the street as well as the curbs will soon be in need of replacement.

The Director of Public Works, Damon Hodges, said Raytown Water Company is responsible for maintenance of its water lines. He also said the water company has been informed of the problem.

The City of Raytown is responsible for making certain utility companies, like Raytown Water Company, properly maintain their easements and city right of way.

Twice the city has been informed about the problem. In each instance, someone came out and painted lines all over the streets. They even put tiny little flags in properties near the problem area. This last time they added a traffic cone marking the sink hole so drivers would avoid it.

It is time they did more than acknowledge there is a problem.

It is time they fixed the problem.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

“What’s Wrong at Raytown City Hall?”


City employees in Raytown inexplicably modified their time sheets tens of thousands times during a three-month stretch last year. It’s unknown why the changes were made or how much they cost the city.
Those interested in signing the audit petition or learning more about the petition drive can contact Tony Jacob via the following website

Or . . . Stop by Doughboy’s Doughnuts located at 63rd and Woodson to pickup petition forms or to sign a petition (11559 East 63rd Street, Raytown, MO 64133).

Transfer of Ambulance
Service to be Discussed
First Reading of an Ordinance Transferring the Raytown (EMS) Ambulance Service to the Raytown Fire Protection District will be held

Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Raytown City Hall, 10000 East 59th Street
Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m.

The public is invited to share its opinion on the transfer of the Ambulance Service to the Fire District during the Public Comments portion of the meeting.
  • Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. / Public Comments is the first item of business.
  • A sign-up sheet is at the entrance to the room. Speakers will be called to the podium in the order of when they signed up. Raytown residents are given priority to speak.
  • Each speaker is allowed five minutes to make their presentation.

Blog Rules . . . BY PAUL LIVIUS
Every now and then we find it is necessary to review the rules governing the material on the blog portion of the Raytown Report.

Most of our readers understand and follow the rules. The use of obscenity has all but vanished from our page because we simply will not print your blog if it is laced with vulgarity.

A big thank you for that to our readers!

We recently received what was entitled a Press Release regarding the transfer of the EMS (Ambulance Service) to the Raytown Fire Protection District. The Press Release was unsigned.

All press releases require the name and phone number of the person submitting the release. If whoever sent the release will provide the required information, we will gladly publish it.

Congrats to Us!
Greg and Mecee Celebrate 40 Years
No doubt many of our readers noticed we skipped a week of publication of the Raytown Report. The reason is because Greg and his bride of 40 years, Mecee took an extended vacation to celebrate 40 years together.

That being said, after browsing through his tons of photos (Greg is quite the shutterbug) I pulled out some of my favorites and asked him to share them with you. The picture were taken along the Rhine River in Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland.

So, without any further ado, here are a few of the photos we enjoyed the most.

Excitement on the first day. This picture was taken at a train station / mall near where our boat was docked. About half way up the tunnel from where the picture was taken a terrorist attacked some people with a knife.The police quickly subdued him and carted him off to jail.

If you go to Holland you must visit a windmill. This particular windmill is in Holland.
The name of the country is actually the Netherlands. Holland could be compared 
to a state in America. Over the stretch of centuries the two names have become 
to mean the same thing. Both are considered proper use of the language.

Amsterdam, Holland has more bicycles than people. That is because the working population will typically take a train into town and pickup their bicycle from public bicycle parking areas to move around the city. They chain their bike to a bike stand and at the end of the day and take the train back home. Streets are typically filled with pedestrians, bicycles and very small delivery trucks. The bikes are usually not that fancy as a deterrent to bicycle thieves. 

Basel, Switzerland has public water fountains all over the city. The fountains run continuously. Basel is one of Europe’s oldest cities and has rarely been touched by the ruins of war. Walking the streets of Basel is like walking in a museum. Speaking of which, the artwork and remnants of some of the buildings go back to the earliest expansion of the Roman Empire.

Cologne, Germany is home to some of one of Europe’s oldest and largest Cathedral. Construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248. It took seven centuries to build. Finally completed in 1880, the Cathedral escaped any major bombing by the allied forces in World War 2. It stands as the most magnificent example of a Gothic Cathedral in our modern world.

Strasbourg, France is one of the prettiest cities of Europe. The pictures (above and below) show how the oldest European cities were built along waterways. Over the centuries the rivers were channeled and tamed. Most streets do not have curbs, like the river, the streets but against the buildings. 

Heidelberg, Germany is home to the Heidelberg Castle, the ruins, partially restored, hover over the city that shares its name. The city was spared allied bombing runs by American forces because of its beautiful architecture. The ruins of the Castle were the result of a French invasion and occupation of the city in the 17th Century. The narrow street pictured is typical of most older European city streets once you leave the highways that link the cities together. All of the European cities we visited relied heavily on mass transportation, street cars and trains.

Those Clever Nazis! Along the hillsides of the Rhine River, are castles. Most have been restored. It was noticed the rail line entrances and exits to tunnels had edifices that looked similar to the castles in the countryside. The reason was that during World War 2 the Nazi command built the castle-like structures at tunnels to disguise them from American and British bombers. 

You can always tell the Americans because they are more colorfully dressed than the Europeans.