Sunday, August 28, 2016


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Good Intentions Fall Short

The Raytown School District has decided to enter students in raffle for a new Ford Focus at the end of the school year for high school students with 95% attendance or better.

The plan also calls for students who reach the 95% attendance or better threshold  to be entered in monthly drawing for a $50 gift certificate.

According to the Raytown School District website news story the purpose of the raffle is two fold. One is to encourage students to attend classes. Two is to help the School District receive more funds from the State based on number of students in their seats during the school year. School District funding is based on attendance rather than enrollment.

OUR VIEW . . .
Raytown is not the first School District to use this scheme. It has been widely used in New York State, California and Texas for a number of years. The stories we have researched on the system are all about how they are started. We have yet to find a story showing the results. And by results we mean improved grades and improved attendance.

A newspaper story out of Berkely, California pretty much shows the mindset behind the pay for attendance scheme. The following article shows the end-game goal:

“Some (school districts) have asked families with children who missed school for avoidable reasons such as family trips to reimburse schools the $30-$50 a day the absence cost in lost funding, or at least consider having a child with the sniffles or a stomach ache show up for the first part of the day so he or she can be counted before going home sick.”

Let’s be plain. The raffle is an attempt to bribe students to attend school. It sends the wrong message.  The reason someone should go to school is to learn to better one self. Not to enter a raffle.

It is very clear why the Raytown School District has hatched the program. They see a way to capture more funding from the state for the School District. In other words, they are gaming the system.

We applaud the School District’s attempt to address lowered attendance figures. But the solution they have come up with sends the wrong message to young, impressionable minds.

Local Developer Backing
Away from Zoning Agreement
Greg Stervinou Construction has submitted plans for a retail dollar store on 63rd Street just east of Blue Ridge Elementary Grade School. But he neglected to include the plans for the houses that are supposed to be built as well.

At the last Board of Aldermen meeting Greg Stervinou Construction submitted plans for a retail dollar store outlet 63rd Street.

Problem is, the plans did not include a previous agreement between Stervinou and the Board of Aldermen to build four residential homes on the property as well.

Alderman Eric Teeman said there were houses in the first plan and wanted to know why they aren’t in the second plan.  Mr. Ralph Monaco, speaking on behalf of Sterveninou said the project was behind schedule on the retail component.  They had been concentrating on getting the retail store open first, and then they will come back and put in the houses.

The Board’s agreement with Stervinou was explicit when it was originally passed. Mr. Monaco’s defense that they are “behind schedule” is not a reason to ignore the agreement.

The Board should also remember the neighborhoods surrounding the development voiced objections to the zoning change. If Stervinou is allowed to move forward, and ignore the original agreement, it would appear the surrounding neighbor’s objections were on target.

The Board should require Stervinou to live up to the agreement when the zoning plan was submitted. Anything less is a slap in the face of those who elected them to represent them on the City Council.

Board Considers a 25% Pay Increase for Themselves
The word out of Raytown City Hall is that the Board of Aldermen must “set” the salary for elected officials before the next election.


The salaries are already “set”.

This wringing of hands and (false) attempt to paint this political slight of hand as business as usual is so much nonsense. If they want to raise the salaries, they can do it. If they do not, they simply do nothing.

Here is the official line from Raytown City Hall.

The Elected Officials Compensation Committee was established by the Board of Aldermen to review the salary for elected officials and make recommendations for adjustment. An elected official's compensation must be set prior to a person taking office and may not be changed during the term of office, with the exception that the salary may be automatically adjusted during the term of office if the amount of the automatic adjustment is set prior to the start of the term of office. Accordingly, any adjustment the Board of Aldermen deems appropriate to make to the current salary of the Board of Aldermen (5 members), Police Chief or Municipal Judge must be made prior to the April 4, 2017 Election. The Elected Officials Compensation Committee met on August 11, 2016 to consider the salaries of the election positions of Alderman, Police Chief and Municipal Judge. The recommendations of the Committee are as follows:

Board of Alderman Increase Yearly Current-Yearly ($400.00 + $50.00 car allowance monthly) April 2017-Recommended ($500.00 + $50.00 car allowance monthly).


Municipal Judge Current Yearly $28,190.99 April 2017-Recommended $35,238.74


City Marshal/Chief of Police Current Yearly $96,742.00 April 2017-Recommended 7.5% increase $103,997.65

What is NOT stated in the Police Chief salary increase proposal is that he is also provided the full time use of an automobile . . . and, fuel, maintenance, and insurance for the automobile. He is also fully vested in the police department pension which pays 50% of his salary in retirement benefits.

Raytown is a city of approximately 30,000 people. It is only ten square miles in area.

It cannot afford to pay the scale of increases before the Board of Aldermen for the City Council, Municipal Judge and Police Chief.

The Board would do well to compare their salary, the Judge’s salary and the Police Chief’s salary to city’s of the same size.

We do not think they will do it. So, next week we will have the figures for you.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016


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Park Board Votes 
to Close Super Splash
. . . . well, sort of!
The Raytown Park Board has voted to close Super Splash, Raytown’s public swimming pool, at the end of the 2016 season. The plan is to then go to the voters and ask for a new sales tax increase. Sources at Raytown City Hall and at the Raytown Parks Department place the new sales tax at a quarter cent.
The increased sales tax would be charged on all sales in Raytown, including grocery and pharmaceutical items.

To move forward with their plan to place a sales tax increase before the voters the Park Board must win approval of a majority of the Board of Aldermen (BOA). Some BOA members have been critical of the management practices of the Park Board as it relates to Super Splash.
Under Missouri State Statutes the Board of Aldermen is the authority to place items on the ballot for Raytown voters. The Park Board may want to ask the voters to approve a sales tax increase. But only the Board of Aldermen can place the item on the ballot.

Ward 1 Alderman Josh Greene said the ballot issue has opened the door for one of his fellow Aldermen to spread untrue rumors about who closed Super Splash.

Alderman Josh Greene shared the following comment on Facebook: Many of these claims are being put out by one person who serves on the BOA who is attempting to use this to his political advantage as he is part of the old establishment and seven board members have been elected in the last three years as much of the old guard was voted out.”
Greene identifies other misinformation in his post as well:
"A Developer wants to purchase the property and we are going to sell it" - This is untrue to all of my knowledge, plus it would cost much more to develop this area than several other areas in Raytown due to the preexisting park and having to fill in all the pools. And trust me, with the lack of visibility from the main road, it is not a good place to start a business that needs traffic.”
Greene continued with the following observation:
The Park Board has reported that "Super Splash made money this year" - If you look at the finances before we have pay any maintenance costs or fix the one ride that was out of commission for the last couple weeks of the season then sure, it had a cost recovery of 101%, but after maintenance and fixing items, it will fall closer to 60 to 70 percent cost recovery, which is what it has been at for several years.”
Greene denies conspiracy theories that are making the rounds:
“People have accused me of being a ringleader in closing Super Splash. Not true! The Park Board voted to close Super Splash at its August 15th meeting. The BOA does not have the authority to close Super Splash. In fact, I voted in the past to provide general monies to keep it open after the Park Board voted to close it 2 years ago.”
Alderman Bill VanBuskirk spoke out on the issue as well:
At  the August 9 BOA meeting:Vanbuskirk said, "We will drive away consumers and businesses if we increase taxes.  We have one of the highest tax rates in the KC area.  He went on the say he believes it’s the Park Board’s responsibility to manage the parks, but they need to do it within their means."

Paul’s Rant . . .
My good friends, Randy Battagler and Bob Phillips are at it again. This time around the subject is Super Splash.
The Park Board has voted to shut down the operation. Apparently they hope to increase the sales tax by a quarter cent to purchase some 20 year bonds. There will be plenty of time to discuss the fallacy of paying bonds with sales taxes. Still, I will give this one point to ponder.
If you think paying close to 10% sales tax at Walmart is a good idea, and that Walmart has been a blessing for Raytown, then you will probably fall for the smoke and mirrors being suggested by the Park Board. The Park Board claims the sales tax will create $4.775 million in sales tax revenue.
What they neglect to tell you is how much you will end up paying for the $4.755 million.
I cannot say it any better than Ward 3 Alderman Mark Moore explained at a recent meeting of the Board of Aldermen.
Alderman Moore said, “ . . . the Park Board wants the Board of Aldermen to issue almost $5,000,000 in bonds over 20 years for improvements to Super Splash and other parks in Raytown.  The Board has been told they will have to raise the sales tax by ¼ cent to pay for the bonds.  The interest cost will be $7-9 million dollars alone.  The sales tax increase won’t be enough to pay off the principal in interest in 20 years.”
Actually, Moore’s numbers are probably low. I doubt he included the cost of Bond Counsel and other money men who will massage the numbers to create the increase in sales tax. You can believe me when I tell you those guys do not come cheap!
The lead counsel on the Walmart deal on 350 Highway earned over $1,000,000.00 (yes, one million dollars!) for his expertise in crafting the deal.
But, as Mark Twain once wrote, “I digress”.
This column is about Randy Battagler and Bob Phillips. So back to work I go!
Have you ever noticed the number of adjectives used whenever Randy or Bob write about money?
They refer to revenue at Super Splash as “gross” revenue. Anyone in business will tell you that “gross” does not really count. The more important term, and one you will never see Randy or Bob use in describing revenue at Super Splash, is “net revenue”.
“Net revenue” is what you actually have over once you pay all the bills. If you take that into account, Super Splash has been a money pit for well over ten years.
Randy cannot understand how you can charge more for non-residents using the facility.
Let’s help him out.
Randy, go to the Kansas City Zoo, where Kansas City residents are charged less than non-residents for visiting the zoo. Or, go to Lee’s Summit. They have a fine water park there. If you live in Lee’s Summit, you pay less than non-residents to go swimming. Or, buy a single game seat at a Kansas City Chiefs Football game. Be ready to prove you live in Jackson County to buy that ticket. Any one of those venues could explain to you (and the Park Board) how to unravel the mystery of charging different rates to different folks.
So you see Randy, as the Harry Potter folks were proud of saying, “problem solved, mischief managed!”
But all of this begs the question . . . who uses Super Splash? The last census puts the median age in Raytown at somewhere north of 51 years old. Our neighborhoods have some children, but certainly not as many as in the 1980’s when Super Splash was literally the only municipal water park in the area.
Do you think that might explain the reduction in numbers using the aging Water Park?
As one blogger posted on our blog page, it would be cheaper to have a limousine service pick up and drive Raytowners to a neighboring city than to throw more good tax dollars down the money pit named Super Splash.
Another issue is safety. Go check the Raytown Police Department statistics. The vandalism and break-ins at Super Splash are a favorite for miscreants and thieves.
Going swimming at Super Splash? Here’s a word of advice. Keep your valuables close and watch out for old men with cameras.
I could go on and on . . . but even the internet has limits to how much space can be used.
Those members of the Board of Aldermen who have questioned the wisdom of going down the path of more debt for very little return have this one right.
Here’s a thought, the Park Board paid about $90,000.00 for a survey. That survey listed the number one and number two priorities as more walking trails and bike trails. Take the savings from Super Splash and put it where the people have asked it to go.
You know, we have some pretty clever people who contribute to our blog. Last week one contributor sent the following. I think it is fitting to end this week’s rant with it.
What happens when you dump millions down a bottomless well?
It makes a Super Splash.

Raytown Arts/Music Festival
Saturday August 27th at Kenagy Park
(9608 E 79th ST, Raytown MO 64138) 
The Raytown Parks will host the 5th annual Arts and Music Festival! We will have four bands, a variety of KC metro artists, a free kids area, and several food trucks for you to enjoy.
This is a great free event for the whole family.
The bands that will perform are: Liverpool, Lying Eyes, Barbwire Revolt, and The Wildwood Boys. The festival will run 12:00 (noon) until 7:00 p.m.
This has been a tremendous event for the Raytown Parks, and spectators alike, with our main sponsors for the event being: Dick Smith Ford, Teetering Rocks Golf Course, Fun House Pizza, The Raytown Brooking Eagle, Saber Cycle, KCP&L, Raytown Lee’s Summit Credit Union, H&H Color Labs, and Sci-Tech Automotive.
The Raytown First Baptist Church will host the kids area with art projects and games for kids of all ages. We host many different artists who specialize in every discipline from paint, photography, glass, pottery, wood working and more. All artists will display their works for public viewing and for sale.
You won’t want to miss the Raytown Arts & Music Festival on August 27th, where there will be plenty of activity for all spectators. Fun House Pizza will be selling adult beverages and soft drinks out of the Tikki Station and VIP Tent. Delicious food and deserts will be available from the food vendors near the artists booths.

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting 
August 16, 2016

Mayor McDonough said Liz Kelley-Hansen, a resident of Raytown, has devoted her life to ballet, jazz, and modern dance.  She has performed with the Starlight Theatre, Gene Kelly, Dean Martin’s Goldiggers, and many other stars.  Liz taught at the Westport Ballet Company, American Dance Center and the Jewish community Center, after which she founded Dance Studio 1, where she has inspired countless young ones in the art of dance, providing them with a spirit of achievement and confidence.  On July 23 of this year, Liz received a long overdue award from the Vietnam Veterans of America at its National Leadership and Educational Conference in Arizona for entertaining our troops in Vietnam when she traveled with Bob Hope USO Christmas Show.  He recognized Liz Kelley-Hansen and offered his congratulations for a job well done and for making such a difference in other people’s lives.

The Board passed a resolution approving the reappointment of Danielle Miles to the Raytown Park Board.

The Board passed a resolution approving the appointment of David Thurman to the Raytown Park Board.

The Board passed a resolution approving the appointment of Robbie Tubbs to the Raytown Park Board.

Taylor Seedorf, President of IAFF Union 1730 talked to the Board about the possibility of merging the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) with the Raytown Fire Protection District.  He said it would benefit the EMS employees as well as the City of Raytown.

The Board voted to accept the August 2, 2016 Primary Election results as certified by the Jackson County Election Board to discontinue applying and collecting the local sales tax on the titling of motor vehicles, trailers, boats, and outboard motors that were purchased from a source other than a licensed Missouri dealer.  An approval of this measure would have resulted in a reduction of local revenue to provide for vital services for the City of Raytown, Missouri and it would have placed Missouri dealers of motor vehicles, outboard motors, boats, and trailers at a competitive disadvantage to non-Missouri dealers of motor vehicles, outboard motors, boats, and trailers.  The Jackson County Election Board certified the results of that election on August 10, 2016.  Approval and acceptance of their certification is a formality.

The Board heard the second reading, but failed to pass an ordinance to grant a conditional use permit at 6709 Raytown Road.  James Sullivan with Sullivan Palmer Architects on behalf of the property owner, Aim Investments, LLC, is seeking approval of a conditional use permit application that proposes to allow a vehicle fueling station at 6709 Raytown Road, which is on the northeast corner of Raytown Road and 67th Street.  The property is zoned Neighborhood Commercial (NC).  They are seeking the conditional use permit as they want to tear down the existing building at 6709 Raytown Road and install gas pumps and construct a canopy on the property.  The applicant also owns the adjoining property to the east.  The existing building on the abutting property to the east would be remodeled into the convenience store building.  This application previously went before the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of Aldermen in May and June of 2016.

The Planning & Zoning Commission, by a vote of 5 in favor and 1 against, is recommending approval of the application subject to the following conditions:
1. The trash enclosure shall be rotated so that the gates and opening face the parking lot and not the street in order to enable a trash truck more direct access to the trash container.
2. The exterior appearance of the trash enclosure shall match the exterior appearance of the building addition.
3. Landscaping consisting of shrubs need to be planted along the south and east sides of the trash enclosure to help screen it.  As a result, the curb line of the parking lot adjacent to the trash enclosure is to be changed so that the curb line on the east side of the parking lot aligns with the opening of the trash enclosure, rather than with the back of the trash enclosure.
4. The type and size of the shrubs at the time of planting need to be submitted for review and approval by staff to ensure compliance with the City’s adopted landscape standards.
5. The parking space located near the monument sign shall be removed.
6. Building elevation drawings for the existing building, the proposed building addition, and proposed canopy shall be submitted for staff review and approval.
7. The exterior material of the building addition shall be indicated and shall match the exterior material and color of the remainder of the building.
8. The driveway approach on Raytown Rd. will be clearly marked and identified as right-in, right-out only.
9. The applicant will construct an eight (8) foot sidewalk along the property abutting 67th Street.        
10. The applicant shall submit three copies of the revised site plan for staff review of changes approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

After two readings of the original ordinance the Board of Aldermen requested that the application go back before the Planning & Zoning Commission for approval upon receipt of a completed traffic impact analysis, which was absent from the first three public hearings.  After receiving the completed traffic impact analysis from the applicant, the Public Works department has determined that the traffic generated by the business will not add significant traffic congestion to the intersection at 67th St. and Raytown Rd.  However, due to the proximity of the drive along Raytown Rd. to the intersection, and in order to increase traffic safety for customers entering and exiting the property, Public Works recommends that the approach to the applicant property on Raytown Rd be labeled as right-in, right-out only.  This will prevent vehicles from turning left onto Raytown Rd. while exiting the property, and also will similarly prevent vehicles from using the left turn lane on southbound Raytown Rd. to enter the property.  No other recommendations have been added since this application appeared before the board previously.  The Applicant has updated their site plan to meet all of the previous recommendations made by staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission.  Al Herman, with SDC Engineering in Raytown, said he did a Phase I and Phase II traffic study on July 6, from 4-6pm.  He said the peak traffic times are from 4:30 to 5:30pm.  Alderman Aziere said school was not in session.  The study was only done for 2 hours.  He doesn’t consider this to be an accurate study and shouldn’t be used in the Board’s decision making process.  Alderman Emerson said the new permit conditions call for right turns in and right turns out of the property.  She wanted to know how that was going to be enforced.  Mr. Sullivan said there would be signs indication the restrictions and if necessary, curbing to restrict left turns.  Carol Hinsley said she agreed the corner of 67th and Raytown Road isn’t pretty.  It’s a great location for the right project.  She pointed out the Board requested a traffic study.  When she thinks of a traffic study, she thinks of strips across the road for several days counting the vehicles, not some guy sitting in his car for 2 hours.  This intersection lends itself to traffic accidents.  A gas station will only make it worse.  She looked up the traffic accidents at this intersection and found there have been 15 accidents in the past 20 month between 3:00 and 4:00 pm.  Alderman Van Buskirk pointed out there have been other businesses at this site and wondered why the concern about traffic now.  Alderman Meyers said commercial growth is difficult and it requires investors with revenue.  If the Board hangs this up on the traffic study, they will have traffic issues with the next applicant as well.  Alderman Aziere said he was insulted by the traffic study.  It didn’t include sidewalks, school busses, or children walking in the street.

The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance granting approval of the site plan for a retail store on land located at 9109 East 63rd Street.  Ralph Monaco, with the Greg Stervinou Construction who was working with Dollar General Corporation was requesting site plan approval for certain variances to the Planned Overlay Zoning District.  Alderman Teeman said there were houses in the first plan and wanted to know why they aren’t in the second plan.  Mr. Monaco said the project was behind schedule on the retail component.  They had been concentrating on get the retail store open first, and then they will come back and put in the houses.

The Board passed the first and second reading of an ordinance amending chapter 50, section 50-38 of the Raytown code of ordinances relating to the establishment and membership of the planning commission.  City Clerk, Teresa Henry, said this will simply bring the city into compliance with State statute.

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