Sunday, August 31, 2014

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

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BY GREG WALTERS
Charter Commission Takes Strong Stand on Residency
The Raytown Charter Commission endorsed a residency rule for the position City Administrator at last Tuesday night’s meeting. Ten of the thirteen commissioners voted to make residency a requirement for the position of City Administrator.

Raytown has had four City Administrators. Three of them met the requirement they live within city limits. None of those Administrators were paid for their moving expenses. Two of the previous City Administrators relocated to the City of Raytown from out of state. One City Administrator, Curt Wenson, moved from the City of Lee’s Summit to Raytown when he took the position.

Raytown’s current City Administrator, Mahesh Sharma has not moved to Raytown since he was appointed to the position. Before taking the position of City Administrator, Sharma held the position of Raytown’s Public Works Director.

Upon his appointment to the position of City Administrator, Sharma asked the city ordinance requiring the City Administrator live within the city limits be waived until his daughter graduated from high school. At the time, all but one Alderman (Greg Walters) supported the waiver of the requirement for a three year period.

At the expiration of the waiver, Sharma asked that the requirement be waived again because the housing market had collapsed and he would not have been able to recoup his investment on his home located in the Raymore/Peculiar area.

The majority of the Raytown Board of Aldermen voted to approve the waiver for another three years.

At the expiration of the (second) three year term, Sharma requested the waiver be extended indefinitely. On a split vote, the majority of the Board of Aldermen voted to approve the extension of the waiver . . . and, increase the City Administrator’s salary by $30,000.00

The controversial decision and pay increase came at a time when the Board had frozen all salary increases for city employees.

Commissioner Greg Walters reminded fellow Commissioners of the importance of having the top man or woman in place in times of emergency. He recalled a devastating ice storm that had cut power to most of Raytown for nearly a week and the pivotal role then City Administrator Curt Wenson had in bringing order to the recovery operation led by City. (Wenson had recently moved from Lee’s Summit to Raytown, when he accepted the job as City Administrator)

Commissioner Jason Greene told members he had conducted a study of Charter cities in Missouri and found all of them contain a residency requirement for the position of City Administrator. He also shared with members that voters personally told him they wanted the residency requirement for the City Administrator written into the Charter.

Commissioner Mark Moore told members that, in his opinion, the Raytown City Administrator, who is paid $140,000 annually, can well afford to live within the city limits. Another Commissioner reminded his seatmates that the Raytown Fire District requires the Fire Chief to live within city limits.

If the voters approve the Charter as written by the Commission, the person holding the position of City Administrator will be required to move to Raytown within six months. The City Council will not be able to waive the rules – the only way the requirement could be changed would be through an election decided by a public vote.

HOW THEY VOTED:
ISSUE:    Require the City Administrator to live within city limits

VOTING YES: Jason Greene, Sandy Hartwell, Steve Guenther, Mark Moore, Lisa Emerson, Janet Emerson, Mike McDonough, Susan Dolan, Ted Bowman, Greg Walters

VOTING NO: Mary Jane VanBuskirk, Jim Aziere

ABSENT: Charlotte Melson

 
Paul's Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS
Bob Phillips, an out of town writer for a competing newspaper recently weighed in on development of the Green Space. The city has been trying to find an investor to come in and develop the large open space in Downtown Raytown for some time. 

The last offer was way out of the city’s price range. Phillips’ lament is that the city should look to a local developer to take on the project.

Which makes sense, but then the column leaves reality behind. 

Phillips believes we should give the land to a local developer!

To which I say balderdash! In case you are wondering “balderdash” is defined as “senseless or pointless talk or writing”.

But maybe ol’ Bob has something there. Bob moved away from Raytown a long time ago. He lives somewhere down toward the Ozarks, about a three and half hour drive from Raytown.

Bob is what you might call a “gentleman farmer”. That means he owns some acreage, but he does not really farm it. He just owns it. Part of it, like Raytown’s Green Space is fallow – not used for anything but left wild.

I have a friend who has always wanted to move to the country and farm. But he does not have the money to do so. Perhaps Bob will give him some of his unused acreage so my friend can realize his dream.

Wouldn’t that be grand! Bob can see his farm prosper, my friend can be a farmer.

What say you, Bob?

You are fond of quoting old sayings. Perhaps you will recognize this one – I believe it fits in this case.

“What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander”.

The Revolving Door
Continues to Turn at City Hall
Andy Noll, Raytown’s Public Works Director announced his resignation last week. Mr. Noll’s resignation is the second senior Department Head to leave the city this summer. The city’s former Finance Director left early last summer to enter into private business. 

Their leaving is not the end of the world, but it does point to problem at Raytown City Hall. For any organization to thrive, continuity in leadership is important. In the past twenty years Raytown has seen a high turnover of employees at the department head level.

Coincidentally, the start of this turnover began when the City quit the practice of requiring senior level department positions to live within the city limits.

When someone takes a position that, in part, requires them to become a member of the community, they are more likely to stay in that position because where they are becomes part of them. It becomes home. When it is home, they have a vested interest. They want to see it prosper and grow. 

Of course this does not guarantee that someone working and living in Raytown will not decide to move on. But the lack of that requirement is manifesting itself in what appears to be a revolving door at the management level at Raytown City Hall.

The Mayor and Raytown Board of Aldermen have an opportunity every time a department head position becomes vacant. They should, at the very least, inquire as to the willingness for new applicants to make Raytown their home. Particularly for those individuals who are relocating to the Kansas City area.

With each new appointment the Mayor and Board of Aldermen have an opportunity to correct the situation. So far they have not.

New Finance Director Named
Ms. Martha Munt has been hired to take the helm of the City’s Finance Department. Ms. Mundt comes to Raytown from Greene County (Springfield area). According to a press release from City Administrator Mahesh Sharma Ms. Munt, “brings a wealth of finance experience to the position”. 


BY KAREN
FIT BOTTOMED EATS
All We Are Saying, Is 
Give Fish A Chance (on the Grill)
It’s time to close out the last unofficial weekend of summer with a cookout. There is nothing wrong with a good burger, but if you’ve grilled enough of America’s favorite food this summer to become an honorary member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, perhaps it time to try something different.Due to its delicate nature, fish — especially the boneless fillet — can be a might tricky for the grilling novice, but it’s entirely doable. A fish basket or grate is an inexpensive way to guarantee success, but it can be done without any special equipment. READ MORE

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

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. . . BREAKING NEWS . . . 

RAYTOWN, MO (KCTV) Homicide probe underway after person found dead in Raytown. A man has died in a Raytown neighborhood in what police are calling a homicide. Police responded about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to the 6900 block of Hunter Avenue a reported man unconscious in the street.

When officers arrived it was determined the man, in his 30s was dead and the cause was suspicious.  Investigators are still working to gather information and do not have any suspects at this time.

If you have any information, please call 816-747-TIPS.

For more information use this link:KCTV LINK


--------------------------------------------

Sources at Raytown City Hall say that Raytown’s Public Works Director, Andy Noll, has tendered his resignation from the City of Raytown. Details of the announcement are few. Only that Mr. Noll met with City Administrator Mahesh Sharma, who, in turn, shared the information with the Raytown Board of Aldermen.




The Paul Livius Report
Paul Livius is away on personal business this week so he asked me to step up and give the report on last Tuesday’s Raytown City Council meeting.

So, without any further ado, here is what took place last Tuesday night at Raytown City Hall:

Item 1: The city has a new Finance Director. Her name is Martha Mundt. Ms. Mundt will be relocating to the Raytown area from Springfield, Missouri to take on the duties as the leader of the Raytown City Hall’s Finance Department. Since she is new to the area, we hope she decides to make Raytown her home, not only as a professional businesswoman but also as a resident.

ITEM 2: A resolution asking Governor Jay Nixon to veto a bill passed by the Missouri House and Senate which exempted certain items from sales tax. There was ample debate on this resolution. After all the noise and smoke had subsided the Board voted by a 6-3-1 margin to approve the resolution.

Voting Yes (in favor of the Resolution): Melson, Josh Greene, Lightfoot, Aziere, Mock, Ertz
Voting No (in opposition to the resolution): Jason Greene, VanBuskirk, Creamer
Absent: Emerson

ITEM 3: A resolution authorizing the sale of surplus city equipment by auction. The resolution passed unanimously.

ITEM 4: A resolution approving the contract for one year with Infinity Building Services, LLC for the cutting of noxious and overgrown weeds and lawns in the City of Raytown. This is the final year of a three year contract. The resolution passed unanimously.

ITEM 5: A resolution approving the contract for one year with Raytown Animal Hospital, Inc. for veterinary services associated with animal control. Mayor Bower expressed concerns with this final year of a three year contract with Raytown Animal Hospital. However, he did not elaborate what those concerns were. The resolution was approved unanimously.

ITEM 6 and 6A: This Public Hearing for the consideration of the mechanics of how nuisance ordinances are enforced made some minor changes in the time line for repeat offenders of the city’s nuisance ordinance as regards overgrown laws and weeds. In effect, it shortens the time period for approximately one day given for property owners to cut noxious weeds and overgrown lawns in compliance with city code. The ordinance passed unanimously.

ITEM 7 and 8: These two ordinances granted acceptance of a Family Dollar Store to be built in Downtown Raytown on 63rd Street. Residents to the south of the proposed development had expressed concerns about the impact on their neighborhoods due to traffic and possible security of their homes so close to a major retail outlet. One local resident, Julie Wishy, told the Board that while not all of the concerns had not been met, that she felt comfortable with changes to the plan which protected the privacy of their neighborhood. The developer promised to include a PVC privacy fence between homeowners and the Family Dollar Store. The bill passed unanimously.

ITEM 9: An ordinance establishing a procedure for disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and substantial interests for certain municipal officials. This ordinance was written to bring the city into compliance with state law. The bill passed unanimously.

ITEM 10: This bill, which was approved as an emergency ordinance, granted at conditional use permit subject to certain conditions to operate a car dealership at 11900 East Highway 350. The application had been held up by the Planning and Zoning Commission because they were unable to field a quorum to consider the application.



Greg’s Rant
Typing Paul’s report for him has been a humbling experience for me. It takes a lot of patience to weed through what was said at a City Council Meeting. Paul is the pro when it comes to that – I hope my message in his place is enough to keep the reader up to speed on what is happening at City Hall.

That being said, there are some things in the report that deserve a good “rant”. So sit back and consider the following:

I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Mayor speak in favor of placing a privacy fence between the new Dollar General and the neighborhood just south of the development. A 12,000 sq. ft. footprint of a store with adjoining parking lot creates problems for neighbors that are unique to the operation of a large retail outlet.

One is obvious, trash and debris. Sad to say, some people think that parking lot is where they dump the junk and trash out of their cars. A privacy fence will keep it on retailer’s side so it can easily be picked up. The other is something that the Mayor did not say, but should have, about why you need a fixed wall or fence between large retail and residential areas.

It has to do with crime. Any large retailer is going to have shoplifters. It comes with the territory. When they bolt out of the store, it is highly unlikely the will run across 63rd Street. No, the fastest get away is to cut through neighboring yards – that was a major problem at the old Walmart Store on 67th Street years ago – unfortunately it will probably be a problem on 63rd Street as well. 

The privacy fence creates an impregnable barrier for such escape routes – making the policeman’s job a little easier, but more importantly, maintaining the security of home surrounding the development. The reverse is true as well. A good barrier,  be it a concrete wall or a PVC fence (as required by the city in this case) also keeps burglars from plying their trade and blending in to the parking lot of a large retail establishment.

Here is what bothers me about all of the above. The Mayor asked for a fence. The representative of the Dollar General said it would be done -- not the developer. There was not a formal motion by any Board member requiring the barrier in the agreement. 

The fence or wall will probably be built. After all, the representative from Dollar General publicly agreed to the stipulation. Still, it would probably set better with homeowners if the Board had formally included the fence as a requirement for approval of the developer's plans.

BAD IDEA JOE . . . The meeting ended with a discussion item offered by Ward 1 Alderman Joe Creamer. Creamer introduced Lisa Saparno (if the spelling is wrong, our apologies, none was given at the meeting) and Anthony Carpino. Both of who say they grew up in Raytown. Lisa, who deals in real estate, now lives in Lee’s Summit and Anthony, who deals in home loans, lives in Kansas City. 

Lisa and Anthony want to offer and educational program to potential Raytwon area  homebuyers of the opportunities for first time and second time buyers of homes in the Raytown area. Alderman Joe Creamer wants the city to “partner” with Lisa and Anthony to make this happen.

Creamer told the Board, Raytown  . . .  “has not done a very good job of marketing our community”.

He believes that Anthony and Lisa can help in that regard. All he wants is for the city to allow them to use City Hall for meetings and to have city staff help in promoting the program.

As it turns out, the program already exists, and is free for use by the public . . . as was pointed out by Ward 5 Alderman Michael Lightfoot.  Lightfoot explained that he used the program when he purchased his first home in Raytown.

Ward 4 Alderman Bill VanBuskirk was skeptical of the program as well, he told the Board “that putting people in houses they cannot afford” is not really a good idea.

Ward 5 Alderman Steve Mock also had comments. Mock, who is in the business of building new homes, said that it is really not proper for the City to endorse one realtor or loan company over another. He wondered out loud if the City would officially endorse him as a builder if he put together and educational program. His conclusion was that they probably would not.

Mayor Bower, ever the diplomat, said he was all for the plan if it was feasible. He suggested that Creamer put together a committee to study the question. From the sounds of the comments of his seatmates on the Board . . . he may have trouble finding those willing to serve.


FIT BOTTOMED EATS
Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Cups
Today, for Guest Bloggers’ Week, reader Kristi — a weight-loss blogger in the Boston area who is a newly licensed Zumba instructor, current Weight Watchers member, taco lover and Jillian Michaels superfan — is sharing a delicious sweet treat with us! They’re creamy, delicious and can be served chilled or frozen, with fruit or graham cracker crumbs. We’re already sold!  READ MORE

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