Friday, July 22, 2016


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Same Old
Song and Dance 
It was as if the Administration at City Hall had taken a page from the David Bower play book on how to hide items from the public.

Every five years the City of Raytown is supposed to hold a public hearing on the fiscal condition of the what is commonly known as 350 Live (Walmart) TIF. The public hearing is supposed to be a review of ALL aspects of the TIF. How it is performing? It is covering the anticipated costs of the TIF? Is it bringing revenue to the City as anticipated?

Last Tuesday night Mayor Michael McDonough convened such a hearing. Very few people were in attendance. There is a very good reason the public did not show up with questions. They were not properly informed of the meeting.

Chapter 90 of Missouri Revised Statutes clearly states:


Such notice was not given the people or Raytown.

No ads in the Raytown Times.

No ads in the Raytown Brooking Eagle.

Not even a press release to the two blogs serving Raytown.

Instead the McDonough Administration advertised in the Daily Record. The Daily Record is a publication that exists mainly for public notice as accepted by the State of Missouri.

It would probably be fair to say very few people know of its existence. Even fewer read it on a regular basis.

According to the Missouri Attorney General’s office, the notice given in the Daily Record was not proper notification. They suspect that whoever made the decision at City Hall to place the ad confused Missouri State Statute Chapter 137 with Chapter 90.

Chapter 137 has to do with notification of property tax increases. Chapter 90 refers to public notification for TIF Hearings.

Whoever made the mistake, be it the City Attorney, Mayor or interim City Administrator . . .  they owe the people of Raytown an apology.

But was it really a mistake? We don't think so.

The public notice was supposed to last four weeks. It was not properly advertised. Not a word was spoken of it at any of the Board of Aldermen meetings for a four week period. Not even a press release.

The so-called “hearing” was not without its moments Some members of the Board of Aldermen came loaded for bear and they did not disappoint.

The hearing took place at the beginning of the meeting. It is well worth watching. Use the following link watch the action of last Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

To view the meeting in its entirety use this link  TIF HEARING

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – July 19, 2016

After the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor McDonough asked for a moment of silence for Steve Mock.

Mayor McDonough said Israel Hanke and Romeo Bagunu, debaters at Raytown High School finished second in the United States bracket and third in the International bracket of the Public Forum Debate at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Hanke and Bagunu were undefeated in the preliminary rounds and were victorious in two out of three elimination rounds in the United State bracket before suffering defeat in the third and final elimination rounds.  They defeated teams from California, Texas, Japan, China, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  The lessons learned and skills required in preparation for event’s and the national tournament assist promising young men like Hanke and Bagunu to develop into leaders who will benefit our community and world for years to come.  The Mayor urged all citizens to join the Board of Aldermen in recognizing the hard work and commitment of these two young men and congratulate them both on their achievement.

Richard Tush thanked the Board and Mayor for all the hard work they put in on behalf of the citizens of Raytown.  It’s more than just two meetings a month.  He suggested they invite the Attorney General to give the Mayor and Board information about the Sunshine Law.

Harvey Bruce said the last time he was at the Board of Aldermen meeting, they talked about Super Splash.  Why are they dumping so much money into Super Splash?  He thinks the Board is spending money in the wrong places.  There are storm water problems at 75th and Maywood.  Why is the city spending money on the pillars and Raytown and Gregory and at 63rd and Blue Ridge?  The bushes that were put in have now all died.  The taxpayers paid for those.  Who pays for the water for the plants in the median?  The taxpayers do.  You say you can’t fix the storm sewers, but you can spend money on all the wrong things.

Josh Greene stepped down from the dais to say he will deeply miss Steve Mock and his commitment to Raytown.  He urged all residents to follow Alderman Mock’s example of service to the community.  There are several committees that are short staffed.  Citizens need to go online or come into City Hall and fill out an application.

The new owner of the Newz Room Café told the Board when he purchased the Newz Room Café, the owner had a liquor license, even though they were right across the street from Raytown High School.  Because the business changed owners, the state revoked the liquor license.  He has the letter issued by Brenda Gustafson to the previous owner.  He tried to get the same letter, only to find out the City codes require the distance from a school to be 300 feet, even though the state only requires 100 feet.  He asked the Board to change the codes so he can get the liquor license.  That is the only way the restaurant will turn a profit.

Blossom Davis Robinson said she is against having the 3 Diamond project behind her home.  She is concerned with declining property values.

Barbara Lakeler said she is opposed to the Three Diamond project.  She doesn’t think 55th Street is equipped to handle the increased traffic.  Raytown has limited green space and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  She asked the Board to consider the safety of the residents in the area.  They will need sidewalks and crossing guards for the school children.

Saphira Rain said we have enough senior housing.  This is one of the few undeveloped properties in Raytown.  Children fly their kites and sled in the snow on this property.  The Board needs to educate themselves more on the environment than city codes.  It is imperative we keep this property wild.

Greg Phillips told the Board he is the land owner of the property in question.  This property is zoned R3.  It was that way when he purchased it.  He said this will not be low income housing.  It will be affordable housing for senior citizens.  There will be certain requirements because it is senior housing.  He also said he wasn’t aware children were trespassing on the property and is now considering putting up a fence to prevent any liability issues in the future.  Mr. Phillips said he has paid a company to cut the grass on the property every three weeks.

Edwin Douglas said Mr. Phillips didn’t have the property maintained and the grass cut until about two weeks ago.  He said he himself has been cutting the grass.  Mr. Douglas told the Board is Mr. Phillips would lie about the grass; please consider what else he would lie about.

During committee reports, Steve Meyers said Mark Loughry’s communication skills are long overdue.  He has started opening communications with other entities in the city, such as the Fire District.  Mr. Loughry has started putting new policies and procedures in place for the new City Administrator to follow and will benefit Raytown for years to come.  Eric Teeman reported the Movies in the Park have had good turnouts.  The newsletter will be going out soon.  The Park Board has completed the Park Master Plan and will present it to the BOA on August 9.

The Board passed a resolution approving the appointment of James Bradshaw to the Elected Officials Compensation Review Board.

The Board passed a resolution approving the appointment of Charles D. Wilson, Jr. to the Elected Officials Compensation Review Board.

Rubin Tate, with Block and Company, went before the Board to explain parts of the TIF projects.  He said Project #1 was Walmart and was completed in 2009.  Project #2 was IHOP, the removal of the car wash, car dealership and the service station.  That was complete in 2011.  Project #3 was supposed to be on West 350 Highway, south of the YMCA.  That project has not been activated.  He said part of Project #2 was building Freddie’s.  Block received word one week ago that Freddie’s had delayed their acceptance.  The owner of Freddie’s said they had only one issue with Raytown.  If that had been resolved, they would have gone forward with the project.  As it is, they found another location in Raytown for their restaurant. 

Alderman Jason Greene said the property next to the YMCA was valued at $390,000 in 2012.  Now it is only valued at $9,700.  He wanted to know what happened to devalue the property so drastically.  Mr. Tate said he didn’t know.  He had nothing to do with property values.  Mr. Tate said the problem Freddie’s had with the city was that the driveway was required to connect to Bank of America, so eventually everything could filter into Walmart.  Freddie’s didn’t want to pay the extra money to connect their parking lot to Walmart.

Alderman Jim Aziere asked what the exact route the driveway would take between Freddie’s and Walmart.  Mr. Tate said the last set of plans the city sent back shows the driveway coming in front of the trash dumpsters and goes through to Walmart.  Alderman Aziere said he understands why Freddie’s is upset.  He wouldn’t want to build the driveway either and he thinks this is just a whim of the city.

Alderman Steve Meyers said he sat on the Planning and Zoning Board and reviewed Freddie’s site plans in detail.  He asked Mr. Tate if he was trying to say that the parking lot requirements were not there originally.  Mr. Tate said the requirements were always there, but Freddie’s had asked to have that requirement removed.

Alderman Mark Moore asked how a company can drop a contract in the 11th hour like Freddie’s did.  Mark Loughry said the city had been working with Freddie’s and thought they could resolve any problems.  Now it’s too late because Freddie’s moved.

Alderman Eric Teeman said the property where Freddie’s was had been vacant for 10 years.  He wanted to know how much that was costing Block.  Mr. Tate said Block had been paying the mortgage payments every month for the past 10 years.  Alderman Teeman asked if Block had made any money on the deal.  Mr. Tate said no, Block had lost money.  Alderman Teeman commented that was a good thing because it was nice to know the citizens of Raytown weren’t the only ones losing money on this.  It has caused property values to decline, meaning less money for our schools. The alderman said there are a lot of citizens very angry over the Walmart deal.

Alderman Bill Van Buskirk said IHOP is closed for remodeling.  He stopped and spoke with one of the workers out front.  Alderman Van Buskirk said the worker didn’t speak much English, so the Alderman isn’t sure when IHOP will reopen.  Alderman Van Buskirk asked Mr. Tate why there had been no activity at the Freddie’s construction site.  Mr. Tate said there had been a grading problem on the curbs that had to be resolved.  They tore out a section of the curb and re-poured, so they are ready to move forward.

Alderman Steve Meyers said he knew why the property next to the YMCA had dropped from $390,000 to $9,700.  It was because Block & Company had the land reassessed to “commercial agricultural.”  There has been legal action taken to change this.  He considers this to be a slap in the face of every Raytown citizen.

The discussion was not without drama. At one point Alderman Aziere questioned why the Board was asking Mr. Tate questions instead of the owner of Block and Company. Alderman Jason Greene responded by asking Mr. Tate if he was the representative for Mr. Block. Mr. Tate said he was. Greene addressed his remark to Aziere, saying, “then we are talking to the right guy.”

The Board passed a resolution supporting an application submitted to the Missouri Housing and Development Corporation by 3 Diamond Development for a proposed development of Diamond Senior Apartments near the intersection of 55th Street and Blue Ridge Cutoff.  The proposal is for a 60 unit senior community.  This will be 10 single story six-plex buildings, with a community center, gazebo, nature area, and walking trail.  There will be two bedroom units, approximately 800 sq. ft. each. 

Ray Haydaripoor said he has spoken with 3 Diamond development and they will comply will all codes and storm water requirements.  He said he had been with the city 6 years and there have not been any complaints from Jessica Estates. 

Mayor McDonough said he wanted everyone to understand the property is zoned R3 for the housing, so if the Board says no, it only affects how 3 Diamond will apply for money.  It won’t keep 3 Diamond from building. 

Alderman Van Buskirk says there are three housing complexes in his district.  Everyone he has talked with loves being there.  He believes senior housing is needed in our community.

Alderman Jason Greene reminded the Board 3 Diamond can build with or without the Board’s blessing.  They did the Board the courtesy of asking for approval.

Alderman Janet Emerson said she is concerned about the traffic.  This will be close to the school and the children walk in the street.

Alderman Josh Greene said our population is aging and we need more senior housing.  We also want to attract younger families

Alderman Jim Aziere told the Board this is a very hilly part of the city and will cause problems with water.  When you substitute grass with concrete and asphalt, you have a problem with run-off.

Ray Haydaripoor said there will be a traffic study and a drainage study before construction starts, so that might ease the concerns of the Board members and the residents.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing an agreement with Lawn Logic, LLC for mowing and nuisance abatement services.   This spring city staff released a request for a competitive bid for a contractor to provide the services needed by the Neighborhood Services Division of the Development and Public Affairs Department for the abatement of nuisances on properties found to be in violation of the Code of Ordinances. However, the City did not receive any bids; therefore, by authorization and under the directions of the Purchasing Manual of the City of Raytown, this summer staff contracted with three companies which would combine to provide the services needed of the City, at no more than $3,000 paid to each contractor. The services provided through these agreements include mowing of grass and weeds that are in violation of City code (e.g. in excess of eight inches in height); removal of junk, trash and debris from property, and boarding up of vacant and abandoned buildings. However, due to the heavy load of work orders required, staff is approaching the payable amount limit for all three contractors provided in the Purchasing Manual. Due to the continuing need of nuisance abatement services in the City, the staff needs to continue work beyond what is allowed under the Purchasing Manual. Lawn Logic, LLC is one of the contractors city staff is currently working with, and the company has stood out from the others with its dedication to professionalism, as well as timely and efficient service. Since it began performing nuisance abatement services for the City Lawn Logic has provided timely and organized invoice billing, with documentation and photos showing work completed at each address where a work order was issued. Furthermore, Lawn Logic, LLC is based and operated out of Raytown, providing the City an opportunity to support a local business. Staff is requesting that the Board of Aldermen approve the purchase of nuisance abatement services from Lawn Logic, LLC. The Purchasing Policy requires that staff receive approval from the Board of Alderman to purchase services in excess of $15,000. In addition, Lawn Logic’s price-per-hour of service is approximately $100 per hour. As such that is the highest price per-hour billed to the City among the three active nuisance abatement contractors. The Purchasing Policy also requires approval from the Board of Aldermen to purchase services from a contractor that is not the lowest bidder. It is the opinion of the staff that the quality of service and organized billing practices from Lawn Logic are significantly high enough compared to the other services used by the City to justify the higher cost for service.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing an agreement with Wiedenmann, Inc. for an emergency storm water repair project located at the intersection of Crescent and Elm in an amount not to exceed $41,581. In May a hole in the pavement at the intersection of Crescent & Elm was reported to Public Works staff. Upon investigation of the hole, it was found that the subgrade around the storm water corrugated metal pipe under Elm had eroded due to pipe failure. Further investigation found that the pipe under Crescent was also in need of immediate replacement and the storm water inlets into these pipes were of insufficient size to accommodate the new pipes. City staff contacted Wiedenmann Inc. to perform the repairs and the work was completed on May 27, 2016.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the city administrator to enter into an agreement with Vance Brothers, Inc. for the 2016 lightweight aggregate seal project in a total amount not to exceed $352,000.00.  The Public Works Department received 2 sealed bids that were opened on Friday, May 20, 2016. Vance Brothers Inc. is the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder with a base bid of $406,903.57 and is being recommended for approval. Line items #1 and #2 are Public Works Department line items to perform granite chip seal on the City streets. The total for these 2 line items is $362,843.00. The City has asked Vance Brothers to remove line item 1 from the project, and they have agreed to remove this line item and keep all other line items and costs as bid. This will bring the revised Public Works cost to $297,017.50. Line items #3 thru #6 are Parks Department line items, and will be approved to perform haydite chip seal on the walking trail at Colman Park, and to perform a parking lot crack fill and seal coating at Kenagy Park. The total for these 4 line items is $44,060.57. The revised contract total will be the Public Works $297,017.50 plus the Parks $44,060.57 = $341,078.07. As in 2011 through 2015, the City allows the contractor to close a section of road for up to 1 hour to place asphalt emulsion oil and to use less aggregate to decrease the amount of dust. The granite seal project will require the contractor to make a straight edge for the chip seal surface treatment when ending at another street. Additional purchasing authority is requested to accommodate possible change order overruns in this resurfacing project. This will make an approved amount to spend of $305,000.00 (streets) + $47,000.00 (parks) = $352,000.00 (total). The streets total exceeds the 2016 budgeted amount by $55,000.00; however, with the concrete project bids coming in $30,000.00 under budget and additional prioritization, budgeted funds are available to complete the streets portion of the project. The Parks portion of the project is within 2016 budgeted amounts. Alderman Jason Greene said Vance Brothers paved the walking trails at Kenagy Park.  One of his constituents, Robbie Tubbs, showed him a photo of the trail.  Vance Brothers laid the chip seal down right over the goose crap.  He would hope in the future Vance would do a better job.  There is no excuse for such poor workmanship.  Alderman Eric Teeman said he agreed and hope Public Works brings it to Vance Brothers’ attention.  In the future, they should pressure wash the trails.  He said there was also a huge problem of gravel on the roadway after the chip seal was finished.

The Board passed an ordinance establishing a procedure to disclose potential conflicts of interest and substantial interests for certain municipal officials in the city of Raytown.  In 1991, the Missouri General Assembly adopted an ethics and personal financial disclosure law, which applied to all municipalities with an annual operating budget in excess of $1 million.  Under the law, municipalities were allowed to adopt their own simplified personal financial disclosure requirements by ordinance (commonly known as “short form” reporting).  The financial disclosure reporting requirements apply to each elected official, the City Administrator (as the Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Purchasing Officer), the Director of Finance (as the Chief Financial Officer), the City Clerk, the full-time General Counsel, the Park Board, and the Parks and Recreation Director.  Each political subdivision desiring to use the “short form” is required to readopt the ordinance authorizing “short form” reporting every two years.  However, in order to avoid the significant consequences of the failure to readopt the ordinance the recommended best practice is to adopt the ordinance annually.  The ordinance must be adopted by September 15 and a copy must be provided to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016


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Bits and Pieces
Meetings of Note this week . . . 

The Raytown Park Department will be discussing the future of Super Splash USA at its Monday night meeting. The meeting will be held at 7:00 pm at the Raytown Parks and Recreation Headquarters located at 59th  and Lane Streets. The public is invited to attend and join in the discussion.

In the Better Late than Never Department . . .
The Raytown Board of Aldermen will be holding a public hearing on the 350 Live (Walmart) TIF District at their Tuesday meeting (July 19th). The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. The city is required to hold a public hearing on the progress of the TIF District every five years. The 350 Live TIF District was established seven years ago -- making this hearing a little over two years late. The City Council meeting agenda sets the hearing time at 7:00 p.m. As with all public hearings, people will be able to address the Board of Aldermen and join in discussion at the meeting.

District 28 House Race
As is evidenced by the number of yard signs cropping up around Raytown, there is an election coming up on August 2nd. Five candidates who filed as Democrats are vying for the opportunity to face Bill Van Buskirk. Van Buskirk is the only Republican filed and will move on to the November General Election to face the winner of the Democratic primary.

Speaking of Candidates . . . 
Jim Aziere has people scratching their heads on his decision so run as a Democrat in the 28th District seat election. Aziere has run in two previous elections for the same seat as a Republican. He is also a former Republican Committeeman.
Word has reached us from a number of individuals who have heard Aziere’s stump speech. Apparently he is telling voters the reason he is running as a Democrat is because he found out the Republican Party in Missouri supports Right to Work legislation.

Jim should be able to come up with a better story than that!
When he ran as a Republican in 2004 against Terry Young and again in 2012 against Tom McDonald, the Republican Party in Missouri supported in Right to Work then as well!

What happened? Did he have an epiphany* that brought about the political change?
*a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence.

How long does it take for the Raytown Parks and Recreation Department to change out a burned out light?

That’s what one of my neighbors wants to know.

A little over a month ago my neighbor informed the Parks Department the parking lot light down by the shelter houses was burned out. She expressed concern for the safety of those using the park at night.
My neighbor said she was told by park personnel that they were not sure if it was the Park Department’s responsibility or Kansas City Power and Light’s responsibility to fix the light.
Which really begs the question.
After all, the power company will not repair the light unless the Park Department tells them to.
You can see the light is burned out from the park headquarters front door.

As my neighbor told me at the end of her interview, “I really do not care who is responsible for the light,” she said, “I just want it fixed”.

Numbers paint gloomy picture of 350 Live (Walmart) TIF Debt
In this week’s agenda package from City Hall there is a surprisingly clear spread sheet showing the anticipated revenue/expenses and payback expected from the 350 Live TIF.
To view the spread sheet use this link . . . SPREAD SHEET

Go to page 8 of the document . . . or, read on and learn what the spreadsheet says.
I will skip all the numbers at the top of the page. Because that really count are at the bottom of the page.

I call this the “bottom line”.

In 2032 the city projects principal and interest over the life of the fund to be $75,127,128. Over the life of the bond, the city projects sales tax revenue of $67,109,148.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a short fall of $8,018,670.

Of course, the income revenue are only projections.

But it is important to note that the numbers are the city’s projections.

Board Makes the Right Move
on Three Diamonds Land Scheme
The Board of Aldermen has come under some criticism from the usual source, the Raytown Times, for going slow on a development named Three Diamond Development. Three Diamond Development wants to build a 60 unit retirement center at 55th Street and Blue Ridge Cutoff. They have asked the Board of Aldermen to endorse the development as a way to gain funding from the State of Missouri for the project.

A number of comments from the Board and members of the audience demonstrated reluctance to jump right to support the proposal without more information.

Jeanette Gentry asked the Board to not vote for the Three Diamond Project.  She said we don’t need $500 apartments.  Gentry said, “We need $1,100 and $1,200 apartments. We have Cerner coming in soon.  We need people with enough income who can bring a new vitality to our community.”

Alderman Steve Meyers said he wants to table the item until the Board can research the zoning issues and review the development plants.

Alderman Eric Teeman asked if this only supports the application for tax credits.  He wanted to know if the item will come back to the Board.

Alderman Van Buskirk said he thinks this would look good and be an improvement to the area.  He was in favor of moving forward with the project.

Alderman Karen Black said the Board needs to look into the zoning ordinances.  She asked if the staff had looked into it. She said she was in favor of tabling the project. .

Alderman Josh Greene said if something in the application changes, would this come back to the Board. He said he had the same reservations as Alderman Black and Alderman Meyers.

As you can see from the comments, there are way too many unanswered questions to move forward on the project.

Randy Battagler’s editorial criticism of the Board’s decision to table the item until answers could be given to the questions about the project is way off base.

Let’s suppose the Board endorses the project. But then learns there are some very good reasons not to move forward with the project and rejects it when it comes to the Board of approval of zoning and code changes.

It puts the Board in the unique position of saying “no” to a project they said they wanted the
State of Missouri to fund. The breakneck speed by which some would want to see the vote taken speaks of good old fashioned political steam roller tactics.

Thankfully, the Board of Aldermen showed they are tough enough to stand up and say “no”.

The Board is correct to ask their questions and demand answers before moving on any project.

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