Sunday, August 23, 2015

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE


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BY GREG WALTERS
Broken Promise
In 2010 Raytown approved a 1/8 Cent Sales Tax. The Board of Aldermen included in the ballot language a promise to voters that the sales tax would be used specifically for funding the Raytown Parks and Recreation and funding of storm sewer projects.

At a work session of the Board of Aldermen Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black told Board members she has discovered that 100% of the tax dollars has gone to Park Funding. Zero percent has gone to fund storm water projects.

City Administrator Mahesh Sharma has since confirmed Ms. Black’s contention that City Hall has not followed through on the promise made to the voters five years ago.

The 1/8 cent sales tax is reported to generate approximately $325,000 in tax revenue annually.*
 *As reported by Chris Collins of the Raytown Brooking Eagle.

Alderman Black, along with Alderman Mark Moore and Alderman Steve Meyers, have since gone on record in support of a 60/40 split formula of the tax funds for the 2015/2016 budget. Other members of the Board, most notably Jason Greene, Eric Teeman and Janet Emerson have indicated they would be supportive of the compromise as well.

The rest of the Board seems to be more interested in wringing their hands, wondering out loud about the park department’s needs and making vague accusations toward those Board Members who support splitting the tax revenue. Some claimed the city never made any such promise.

A check of the record shows the Board of Aldermen did include the language for a split use of the sale tax revenue. The following language was on the ballot in 2010 when voters approved the sales tax increase.

From the May 4, 2010 Board of Aldermen meeting authorizing the issue to be put on the ballot:

Amended Substitute Bill No. 6207-10, Section III-A-9.   AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING AND APPROVING SUBMISSION AT THE PRIMARY ELECTION TO BE HELD AUGUST 3, 2010 TO THE QUALIFIED VOTERS OF THE CITY OF RAYTOWN, MISSOURI, THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE CITY SHALL IMPOSE A SALES TAX IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE-EIGHTH (1/8) OF ONE PERCENT FOR THE PURPOSE OF FUNDING LOCAL PARKS/STORM WATER CONTROL WITHIN THE CITY FOR A TERM OF SEVEN (7) YEARS AND IMPOSING SUCH TAX IF APPROVED BY A MAJORITY OF THE QUALIFIED VOTERS VOTING THEREON

Alderman Aziere, seconded by Alderman Melson made a motion to amend by substitution which would change the term of the sunset from 7 years to 10 years.  The motion was approved by a vote of 10-0-0.

Ayes:  Aldermen Aziere, Melson, Lightfoot, Mock, Par-Due, Van Buskirk, Creamer, Ertz, Hamilton, White

It is interesting to note that Aldermen Jim Aziere, Steve Mock and VanBuskirk were on the Board of Aldermen when the language was put into place. Each of them voted for the split use of the sales tax.

The compromise offered by White, Moore and Meyers is generous. An honest solution would be to dedicate the remaining five years of the sales tax dollars specifically to storm drainage projects. After all, the first five years of tax revenue did go 100% to parks.

Those members of the Board of Aldermen who have spoken in favor of the 60/40 split have got it right. The issue is not complicated. The City made a pact with the voters in 2010. Pass this tax and we will dedicate it towards fixing storm sewer problems.

Giving 100% of the funding to the Park Board made farce of the promise the Board felt so strongly about that they imbedded it into the ballot language.

Simply stated  . . .  keep your promise.




Paul’s Rant! BY PAUL LIVIUS

When I am bored and want to amuse myself I can always count on Randy Battagler of the Raytown Times to stir things up with a comment that is so off-base it is laughable.

Last week he did it again when he wrote “The simple fact is that for years we elected aldermen who promised not to raise taxes. They kept their promise, and because of that we fell behind cities like Lee’s Summit.”

Wrong . . . very, very wrong!

The simple fact is we elected aldermen who mortgaged the future of Raytown by giving large TIF’s, CID’s, and tax abatements to corporate America giants like Walmart, HyVee, Aldi’s, House of Pancakes and Sutherland Lumber. Not to mention other tax abatements awarded to small business owners like Sue Frank's State Farm Insurance, Gary Knabe's Hometown Realty, Clark's Appliances, Bennetti's Coffee and  many more (I could continue but my fingers are getting tired from all the typing required to make the list!).

No, Randy, the city is not behind other cities in tax rates. Go shop at any one of the stores mentioned above (HyVee, Walmart, Sutherland, Aldi’s, House of Pancakes, etc.) and you will find our tax rates are right up there with the big boys.

Our problem in Raytown is that the benefit of those increased taxes do not go to pay for the needs of the city. The tax increases go to line the pockets of corporate America.
  
You are right about one thing. We are definitely paying the piper for the poor judgment of the last administration. The current administration has been slow to start correcting the problems it has inherited. But lately they have been picking up steam.

The misappropriation of sales tax dollars as uncovered by Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black is a good example.

They are working hard to fix the problems. Give them a chance and you may be able to write more upbeat editorials in the future.


The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting August 18, 2015


Kristina Peters, Executive Director of the Shepherd Center, went before the Board for a work session to discuss a project for the Green Space. They said they want to develop the land to construct approximately 100 units of affordable senior housing. The development will occur in two phases and will use Low Income Housing Tax Credits and financing from the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

The first phase of the development will have approximately 48 one-bedroom units in a three story building.  The goal of the development is to create an environment that allows elderly tenants to age in place.  The development will also have 6,000 square feet to provide Shepherd’s Center with needed office space.  There will also be a community room for large meetings that will be available for public or neighborhood use.

The second phase of the development will be a three story building with 60 units of affordable housing.  It will also reserve space for future amenities for the tenants at the southern portion of the site.

The development team proposes approximately 1.3 acres of land on the north portion of the site for a future city park.  The park can provide amphitheater space for future events including programming space for the public library.

Alderman Emerson said she was not in favor of just giving away the land at no cost.  She said she wasn’t sure if this was something she wants to see in the green space.


Alderman Van Buskirk said a few years the city was offered $650,000 for the green space.  Now, the Shepherd Center wants the city to give them the property.  There are many places in Raytown where low income housing would be more appropriate.  The residents keep asking for more restaurants in the area.  The restaurant managements are saying the median income in Raytown isn’t high enough to support starting new businesses here.  Low income housing in the downtown area won’t help that situation and at this time, he can’t support this project.

Alderman Aziere said if the city is going to give away the property, it’s only right to make that public knowledge so groups can submit their plans and the Board can choose the best design.  He said he would also want input from the Main Street Association before any decisions are made.

After the work session, Chief Lynch introduced Officer Adam Koepke.  City Clerk, Teresa Henry, administered the oath.

John Stickner came before the board to say his neighbor has trashy property with unlicensed vehicles and high weeds. He said the city codes department won’t help fix the problem.  He has contacted the codes department repeatedly.  His neighbor has been fined and yet the problem continues.  There are mosquitos, flies, possums, and mice in the weeds.  He keeps calling, but nothing is done.  He has been submitting photos to the city since 2007 and wants to know when this is going to be permanently resolved.

Al Maddox told the Board the Katy Trail will run through Raytown.  Raytown will be the only city on the Santa Fe Trail that is part of the Katy trail.  He said the Cave Springs has become a National Historical site.

Chris Meyers told the Board September 5 is the Festival of the Lost Township.  It will be co-hosted with the Three Trails Kiwanis’s Club.  There will be a Beer Fest with brewers from St. Louis, Illinois, and California.

Pat Jackson, Pastor of the Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, said George Goode with the Louisville Cardinals will be holding a free basketball Clinic on Sunday, August 23.  He invited the mayor to come and shoot some hoops.

The Board passed a resolution approving the reappointment of Mike Apprill to the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

The Board passed a resolution approving the reappointment of Dwight Robinson to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Board passed a resolution approving the reappointment of Kevin Wilson to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Board then moved to the discussion of current 1/8 cent Local Parks and Storm water Tax.

Alderman Black said the voters approved a Parks/Storm Water tax.  She proposed Storm Water Control receive 60% of the tax revenue and the Parks Board receive 40%.  She said the Parks Board has been receiving all the money and for the next fiscal year, at least, the Storm Water issues should be addressed.

Alderman Jason Green said the voter initiative should be honored.

Alderman Josh Green said he believes the Board should sit with the Parks Board to discuss the budgeting process and any impact the reduction in tax dollars would create before the Board takes away money.  He also believes there should not be any specific allocation of tax dollars in the new budget.  If there are more storm water issues, he wants the Board to spend the money there.  Conversely, he wants to be able to spend the money on Parks if that is where the most need is.

Alderman Van Buskirk said everyone on the Board understood at the time the renewal was for the parks.  Nothing on the ballot specified at percentage to any department.  If the tax renewal was for storm water control, he would not have supported it at the time.  The Board needs to know how this will impact the Parks Department before making any decision.

Alderman Aziere said one option is to do away with the Parks department maintaining the medians at the gateways.  The Parks department has been maintaining these areas even though they are not park of the park system.

Alderman Teeman said in 2003 the voters passed the Parks tax.  In 2010, when the tax came up for renewal, Alderman Aziere added storm water control to the renewal.  He said he doesn’t want to cut the Parks budget, but it’s obvious the Board at the time intended the money to go to storm water control.

Alderman Meyers said when the city modified the tax renewal to say storm water control, the voters assumed the money would be spent for storm water control.  That’s what the city needs to do.  He will support the 60/40 split.

Alderman Emerson said if the voters approve something, that’s the way it should be.  She pointed out the Park Board spent $50,000 on a study conducted by a group out of Minnesota or Wisconsin.  There are companies right here in the area that can do the study.  Here’s no reason to go out of town to have it done.

Alderman Jason Greene said he agreed with Aldermen Teeman and Black.  It’s not right to tell voters the city will spend money one way and not do it.  It’s unethical.  The city needs to do what it says it will do.

Alderman Van Buskirk said he is upset by the suggestion that the city government is unethical and trying to deceive people.  That’s just plain wrong.

Alderman Josh Greene said the Board should have Kevin Boji give an impact statement on the Park budget.


BY KAREN
Healthy Lunch Ideas 
for Every Appetite 
Do you work in a sea of office building with not a lunch counter in sight? Or maybe you’re just trying to save a buck. No matter, at FBE we know what a challenge it is to brown bag it, but taking your lunch to work is one of the best ways to take charge of your health. (Plus, you know we love a challenge!) From slap it together and go to just a bit of prep, we’ve got some healthy lunch ideas to keep you looking forward to that noon meal. READ MORE
 
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