Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why I Voted "NO" on the 350 Highway Walmart Project

Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting was a milestone of sorts for Raytown. The Board, by a vote of 9 to 1, to go deep into debt for 23 years to the tune of $31,980,293.00 (yes, 31 MILLION dollars) to guarantee a Walmart would locate a new super center on 350 Highway. – I was the lone “no” vote on the package. There are very good reasons why. First, let me say for the record that I am not a Walmart hater. I don’t hold them in the highest esteem either. But I do believe in capitalism. And, that in a free capitalistic system the rules are such that prosperity and growth are not signs of evil. If people do not agree with how someone conducts their business, they can vote with their feet and refuse to shop at Walmart. Some do just that. But the simple fact is that most do not. Nope, my reason for voting against the 350 Walmart Development is two-fold. Most people are not aware that once the project is up and running that it is predicted to fall far short of returning anything on the money invested – period. Not in one year, not in 23 years. TIF packages come with a tax increase. At the end of the day the tax increase for this particular Raytown TIF is nearly 1%. Typically, one-half of the tax increase goes to development – the parking lot, the building, the sewers, etc., etc., etc. The other half, often referred to as the “bottom end”, of the tax increase goes to the City. In the case of the Raytown Walmart TIF – ALL of the bottom end goes to the Walmart development. The reason for disparity is the Raytown School District. They are in the catbird seat. They own the land needed for the development. This drove the cost of the project from something feasible to something that resembles more of an economic black hole. The city’s only hope of a gain is in some nebulous plans of future development. A theory that is long on Pollyannaish talk of this developer moving in here and that one over there. But the reality is that no such plans exist except in “blue sky” talk. But that is not the main reason for my “no” votes on the seven pieces of legislation this evening. The city, in an effort to make the “deal” work has made a conscious decision to indemnify the bond holders investments for the full 23 year term of the bonds offered to finance the project. In short, the taxpayer is guaranteeing that the bondholders will be paid in full – no matter what. That means that if Walmart does not meet the expected sales targets for the new store, the money needed to pay the bonds from the tax revenue will come directly from the city’s coffers. In other words, the Board of Aldermen have put at risk tax dollars you and I pay to maintain our streets, sewers, policemen, ambulance service, etc., etc., etc. If the economy takes a nose-dive into a recession, if gasoline prices spike and cause an economic upheaval – our tax dollars are guaranteed to make certain that the shortfall at the local Walmart will be made up from the general revenue of the city. That is a line I refused to cross tonight. It is why I voted “no” this evening on the 350 Highway Walmart.

17 comments:

Spyder said...

Thanks for trying to look out for us. I appreciate your dedication to what is right.

Andy Pickard said...

Tonight was indeed a watershed moment for Raytown. The Wal-Mart folks got everything they wanted. They get any profit while the city takes all the risk. Greg Walters was the only one who thought to look down the road with an eye toward reality. The dream of ancilliary developers swooping in just because the Bentonville mafia is in town may prove to be a repeat of the several downtown development fiascos. But no, dreams trump reason and due diligence at Raytown City Hall.

Andy Whiteman said...

I have noticed at Board of Alderman meetings that Greg asks pointed, detailed questions, as a businessman should.

Greg and I disagree on many issues, but this is one we can agree on.

I have never seen two 24 hour Walmarts so close together. In fact, the proposed Walmart on 350 HWY will be competition with its other store on I-70. I predict one of the stores will close. Walmart has a way of obtaining TIF's. Perhaps that is how they make their profit. I wish the other aldermen would have taken a better look at this "deal".

Andy Whiteman

Mr. Whig said...

Well, when you can move into an area and not pay any taxes, why not do business that way? The Stuporcenter up at 40/70/Blue Ridge does a land-office business and so will this one, probably - as an aside I am glad to see the little Apple Market on Blue Ridge still thriving in the shadow of the Bentonville Mafia (I love that phrase).

I am not a big Wal-Mart fan. In a small town, like where my mother lives, they are the center of the community, and it's a mixed blessing.

This is another case of "progress isn't always good," and it's a shame you were so loudly outvoted.

Say, how can you tell when the Bentonville Mafia is in town? There's a punchline there somewhere.

Pat Casady said...

Personally I think we should ask the state to investigate for misuse of taxpayer money.
Making the taxpayers invest in a Wal-Mart store, the richest retailer in the world, a company
That makes more $31,000,000.00 in less than ten minutes of business, is about the most asinine decision these people have made yet.

Not to mention you can kiss the downtown redevelopment good-by. What company in it's right mind would come to Raytown with a Wally World down the street, but I think that's been the plan all along. As long as this city can collect sales tax money and the more the better they can pay the high salaries, they have been talked in to.
Make all the downtown businesses go away and install residential and have more people to buy from Wal-mart, more sales and real estate tax dollars.

To take tax dollars and give them to Wal-Mart should be an impeachable violation. This money should go to the schools, not cost the schools. Wal-Mart should build the new school buildings not the taxpayers. What kind or official would make this kind or decision? Certainly not one that looks out for the taxpayer or their hard earned dollars.
Not to mention every piece of property in Raytown will go down in value.

Is it just that our elected officials are that bad or are they still buying from fast talking developers. Have they not learned anything from the past? It seems these people have no trouble spending what is not theirs.

Welcome to Wallytown. Instead of Ray the blacksmith as a logo they can have Wally the greeter.

Anonymous said...

Years ago there was a law that city councils/boards of aldermen could not obligate the city past the current term of office.

Too bad exceptions have been made to that.

How do you tell when the mafia is in town? There's no one with enough money to play the numbers because the mob already has it all!

The Salamander said...

Another try for a charter. Someone must be out of their mind. We've tried this concept of government four times and four times it has been rejected. Here's why. Look at those cities with chrters, especially Kansas City, Mo. This town is the oldest charter city in Missouri and it is so screwed up they're almost all walking backwards. If we get a charter Raytown will beno esception. For your information a large number of cities have rejected charter government and refused to operate onder this government-building, tax devouring system of government.

The day will not come when a charter will help solve problems in Raytown.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone seat that editorial in the Raytown Post by Burnt Brain Bob?

Now he's calling for certain people to be run out of town because he does not agree with what they wrote.

Burnt Out Bob should ease off his medications, take a nap, or do something to calm himself down.

Just because someone disagrees with him is not a reason to run them out of town.

Andy Whiteman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy Whiteman said...

WHY AREN'T THESE MEETINGS ANNOUNCED?
The May 22nd meeting was NOT a regular meeting, yet there was no public notice!
The outcome could have been different if this meeting was announced. I would have been there to express my opinion. From the posts here, I think several others would have been there! That may or may not have changed the vote.

The agenda of the May 15th regular meeting was not posted on the city's website in a timely manner. The amended animal ordinance was snuck in with no hand out of the ordinance so I had to make a Freedom of Information Act request which was lost. I don't recall a 1st "reading". Possibly it was at another unannounced meeting!

Posting in the City Hall is not notice: Who has time to go to city hall daily? The building is only open 8-5 M-F and not truely public unless posting is done outdoors.

My TV does NOT receive CH 7 so don't try to tell me that is public notice.

The Raytown Post id the ONLY LEGAL NEWSPAPER in town and that is where Legal Notice should be posted!

An opt-in email notification list is my suggestion, but it still doesn't meet the requirement of legal notice. At least it would call attention to those who want to know!

We can thank the Board for keeping this meeting SECRET in order to pass the Walmart TIF. When Raytown businesses start closing or moving, we can thank the remainder of the Board for helping Walmart to run the local businesses out of town.

I spoke with a friend who is stock broker and said that he won't recommend TIF bonds to his clients because they have no backing if they default. Hopefully the TIF bonds won't sell and put a stop to this project.

Andy Whiteman

PS. I am for bringing new businesses into Raytown, but not this way!

prefab said...

Ho hum. Let's see.

Raytown is in the tender grasp of a familiar iron fist. The fist wears a veil of propriety, controls legislation, passes its own laws, loots taxpayers, and focuses on staying in power. Forget TIF's, projects, progress, voters, due diligence, or the good of the people. The fist manipulates these to its own ends. All else is theater.

Meanwhile, the city is increasingly divided along ethnic lines. Yet the minority shows little interest in representation on the council. Business as usual.

Rotting and silent, the vacant church building downtown testifies to the true legacy of the past few Raytown city administrations.

$35 million? Who cares? After all, the board's not footing the bill. We are. Annexation, anyone?

'Scuse me. Nap time.

The Salamander said...

Is there anyone out there who can tell me how to gain entrance into the former Baptist Church? I'd like to to in with a video camera. From the outside the place looks like its been used as a training ground for vandals!

I've been told the interior of the building is in shambles. Floors actually ripped open, walls with holes in them, three feet of water in the basement. The building was reportedly being used by of the city departments for playing paintball games.

If the stories of destruction of the Church is true, someone should have to pay for the damage. This building cost Raytown taxpayers over $600,000.00. From all apperances, we are going to be paying on it for years. Right now, the interest payments are $2,200 per month.

Anonymous said...

Why should the city be responsible for the construction of a Wally-World center? They have plenty of money, and should be able to afford the new building. If this goes through, it is Bye-Bye Raytown, and hello Peculiar.

I am ready to move from my neighborhood anyway. The cars whiz up and down Kentucky as though it were a race track, kids standing in line out in the middle of the street as if they are daring you to hit them. Oh, how I hate to see summer vacation.

Why doesn't the city pass a law to "Outlaw" the noise level for car radios. That would be something worthwhile. You do not need a machine that registers the noise level. When you are sitting in a car and your insides are viberating from the Hip-Hop trash, from the car next to you; that is much too loud.

Greg, thank you for voting "No" on this piece of Trash. Maybe that is how you obtained the name "Naysayer."

Andy Whiteman said...

The city has passed a law to outlaw the noise from car stereos. I have noticed the bass pounding noise decline a little (but not enough) since then. When I lived in San Diego County the law was if it could be heard over 25 feet away, it was too LOUD. Littleton, CO had a resedintial ordinance that if a noise could be heard at the property line, it is too loud.

We need ordinances like this that are easy to enforce and don't require expensive db meters.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

HAIL,HAIL TO YOU GREG WALTERS. IT`S A SHAME THAT YOUR THE ONLY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE RAYTOWN PEOPLE THAT LOOKED AT THE WAL-MART DEAL WITH THAT SCRUTINY. I`M SORRY TO SAY THAT I DECIDED TO MOVE OUT OF RAYTOWN BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT`S BEING RUN. I DON`T BELIEVE ANY CITY SHOULD PAY ANYTHING TO HAVE A WAL-MART BUILT IN THEIR CITY BECAUSE THEY ARE ONE OF THE BIGGEST COMPANIES IN THE USA AND YET THEY CAN`T EVEN TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES.A BIG PORTION OF THEIR EMPLOYEES RELY ON PUBLIC ASSITANCE FOR MEDICAL CARE. ANOTHER TAXPAYER EXPENSE, BUT I SUPPOSE THAT`S WHY THE CEO MAKES SO MUCH MONEY BECAUSE HE SAVES THEM SO MUCH BY NOT TAKING CARE OF THEIR EMPLOYEES.
I CAN`T UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE CAN`T SEE THE REAL SIDE TO WAL-MART. THEIR NOT EVEN CHEAPER THAN OTHER STORES ANYMORE.PEOPLE DON`T REALIZE IT.
WAL-MART WON`T BE HAPPY TILL ALL THE SMALL BUSINESS IN THE USA ARE GONE.THEY WANT A STORE EVERY COUPLE MILES.
I`M VERY IMPRESSED WITH YOUR MY WEBPAGE.
THANKS FOR ALLOWING ME TO AIR MY COMMENTS, JAMES LEMKEN[FORMALLY OF RAYTOWN]
P.S. I LIKE THE BENTONVILLE MAFIA THING!!!

Anonymous said...

Would you rather send your money to Bentonville or keep it local?

$.45 of every dollar spent locally stays in the local economy.

$.13 of every dollar spent at a box store stays in the local economy.

Instead of simply discouraging large chains taking over, why not encourage local businesses and at least make an attempt to buy things there? Farmers markets, bookstores, clothing stores, coffee shops, restaurants.. the possibilities are endless.

Vermont (where I moved after getting sick of McWalBucks-land) is a great example.. http://www.vermontagriculture.com/buylocal/buy/index.html

Cindy Morales said...

Way to go Greg, sure hope you will run for Alderman again !!!!