Sunday, October 21, 2007

Been There, Done That

For more information on this topic please view the October 18th posting. From reading comments on last week’s post on the Raytown Report it is clear that there are two schools of thought on HyVee receiving a 50% tax abatement on the told Schnucks property. From discussion offered at the City Council meeting it is also clear that the Board will grant the abatement. But there are still some items the Board should consider before placing their stamp of approval on the scheme. As a long time member of the Board I can remember these same discussions when Shnucks asked for the original tax abatement on the property located at 350 Highway and Gregory Boulevard. The Board of Aldermen signed off on the deal. Three years later, Shnucks pulled the plug on the store. The city was left with a tax abatement that is still in place. All those years, the building in question was used as a warehouse. Not a very good return on the tax abatement. Especially when you consider that the main argument for such an abatement is that it encourages an increase in sales tax dollars. There is a simple solution to ensuring that the same scenario does not happen again. “Claw Backs” is a term given to conditions written into the tax abatement agreement that require occupancy of the tenant for a stated purpose. In this case, HyVee plans to open a new state of the art grocery store. That is all well and good. However, any tax abatement given to encourage that action should contain a clause requiring that the store remain operational. In other words, if the store closes down for any reason, the tax abatement would end. It is a common sense provision the Board of Aldermen should take a hard look at in its negotiations with HyVee. OBSERVATIONS: A Little Honesty Please! At the last Tuesday’s meeting of the Board a number of private citizens gave testimony in the HyVee Public Hearing. Part of the drill any speaker goes through to speak before the Board is to give their home address. Two of the five speakers at that meeting gave addresses that were not their home. One gave a business address -- the other a Post Office box number. Such actions make a farce of a simple rule to bring accountability and honest information before the Board for consideration. The Administration at City Hall should step up and insist that speakers before the elected body give accurate information when making their presentations. Light up the Night: In a conversation with Raytown’s City Marshall, Jim Lynch, I learned that a good number of the city’s street lights are not functioning or, at best, functioning poorly. The electric companies do not meter streetlights. A flat rate is charged per light. That means the city is paying for lights that do not “light up” at night. Mr. Lynch told me he has had his officers identify the burned out and non-functioning lights by pole number. The list was turned over to the Public Works Department so that they can monitor repairs by the utility companies. Good job, Jim! Censorship? . . . Never! A recurring theme from a small number of bloggers has been that certain topics be forbidden for discussion on these pages. Usually these have to do with personal opinions written about individuals. To my knowledge, these pages, and the comments written on them by many contributors, have been free of anything nearing libel or defaming. The closest it has come to profanity is when one contributor referred to this writer as a “jackass”. Given those facts, I see no reason to censor or delete any contributor’s comments. As Harry Truman plainly put it, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think we need to bring the kids from the TV show Kid Nation here to run the city. They could do a better job than what we have now. I have seen some pretty stupid Board of Alderman but this one takes the cake. Why don't we just give the city away???

Andy Whiteman said...

STREET LIGHTS
There is one street light near me that does not operate more often than is normal when compared to others. Each time is is out, I call Aquila. The last time it took 2 calls. I think it is to their advantage not to repair them!

ABATEMENT for Hy-Vee

I agree with Greg that the abatement should end when and if the business(es) are no longer being operated.

BLIGHTED AREAS
Schnucks is a blighted area which Hy-Vee is trying to rectify. When is the City going to take care of its blighted, code violation namely, the Olde Baptist Church? Why is the city exempt from its own codes but harrasses citizens about aledged code violations?

ADDRESSES
I heard 2 and possibly 3 business addresses stated at the hearing.

I do not give my physical address for security reasons. My drivers' license, car license, and personal property taxes all bear a PO Box for security reasons. The address where I live is not my address since mail of any importance must be addressed to a PO Box. My PO Box is my address. If someone wants the address where I live, it requires some intelligence and some effort.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

They want addresses of the residents that question authority at BOA meetings so that they can send a friendly Neighborhood Services officer to properly initiate you to 'Welcome to Raytown's World', in other words, voice out against the establishment at city hall, get citations for alleged property violations to hopefully shut you up and keep you busy correcting alleged violations. That is how they let you know that you are not a welcome part of the 'Good Ol Boy's Club'.

Anonymous said...

Andy...no one cares what you think.

Anonymous said...

Andy...no one cares what you think.

Pat Casady said...

Tax abatements are a way for a city to entice new businesses.
As I understand it Hy-Vee has had the Schnucks building in their
possession since they left town.

They have had over ten years to make any and all improvements needed but,
I guess it's a done deal. So here's the question:
Are the geniuses at City Hall going to give all grocery stores in Raytown the same advantage? After all Hy-Vee isn't an incoming "NEW" business
they are just moving to a building they already have.

Our city officials should not give a competitive edge to any store.
What are they going to do for Consentino's, all four of them, John's Apple
Market, The Store and Coddington's?

This is not fair! In fact it is a slap in the face of every other business in town.
This town seems to bend over backwards for big companies and do as little as possible for small businesses. Other than give them as much trouble as they can, and in some cases try to run them out of town.

If someone can explain how this city thinks, could they please explain it to me? I have never understood these people.
They treat the Wal-Marts and now Hy-Vee's like kings and most of the rest of the businesses like bathroom paper.

Oh, and Andy don't listen to the
anonymous 10:57.......10:57.

mr. whig said...

Andy, I care what you think. Keep talking, keep thinking.

Anonymous said...

Pat,
I think the easiest explanation is that they are doing the same thing every other city in the area is doing. You have to give these incentives, or they will leave town, leaving empty buildings. Like it or not, that is the world we live in. And if you look at the even bigger picture, when those stores leave, then people HAVE to leave town to shop, and then they don't will get gas out of town, and eat out of town, so all of there money is spent out of town. If they stay in town to grocery shop, they spend there incidental money here as well.

Pat Casady said...

Anonymous 9:26,
I understand what you are saying but,
Giving one grocery store an advantage through a tax break over all the other grocery stores is still wrong. If that unfair advantage puts all the other
stores out of business, how many empty buildings will there be then.

The cities "economic director" should go around to every other grocery store and ask if they need a tax break as well. This way it wouldn't be such a lop-sided
advantage for one store.
Fair play is all any respectful business can ask of the city.

Why can't the city, before they pass such an unfair deal, ask
themselves "Will this hurt any other such businesses?"
"Is this fair to any and all other businesses?"

Hy-Vee is here and has been for a long time.
They have owned the other building for almost as many years and kept
it vacant or at least not making any tax dollars, so what makes them so deserving of a tax break?

Andy Whiteman said...

As far as I am concerned Anonymous 1057....1057 speaks for himself/herself.

Pat is making some good points about favoritism, but why don't the other businesses present a similar plan for consideration? They all have the same right to present a plan.

I was at the P&Z hearing when Hy-Vee was seeking aproval there for rearranging the lots. The conversation went clear down to how the front of the building would be constructed so the entire building would look the same. I couldn't believe that Raytown Plaza had to present the color for approval to the BOA. Color should be a personal choice.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 9:26 a.m. People are already shopping out of town now because their are so few things that you can buy in Raytown. Once you get past groceries, gas, auto parts, and an occasional meal (mostly fast food) you can't buy it in Raytown. We buy most everything except what I mentioned in either Independence or Lee's Summit. That's why I believe that Truesdale is totaly at fault. He should be out recruiting small businesses to compliment the ones we already have. But no, he can't seem to do anything except run small business out, while giving away the farm to the Walmarts and Hy-Vees of the world. THIS GUY NEEDS TO GO.

Pat Casady said...

Hey guys,
I'm not blaming Hy-Vee.
They asked for something and they received something.
My question is why?
Was it because the city demanded they change the building?
That I can believe. But if that is the case then every other business
that tried to come to town should have been given the same chance.
(tax breaks)
Again, fair treatment and consistency with both tax giveaways and codes.
That's not asking too much is it?
But if and when the city does giveaway tax revenue, in some cases for over twenty years, for these bigger companies. I hope they don't try the same old tricks like asking the police and city services to cut back or
take pay cuts when the bank account starts going away.
Last time I heard the city had financial problems and still owed for the church, until this city is out of debt, I just can't see why they are in a hurry to giveaway revenue.
I'm not talking about sales tax either.

Anonymous said...

Hy Vee has tied up the old Schnucks store ever since they left town, thus preventing any other business from using the store. In my opinion they are no better than Wal Mart!!!! I will go to Lee's Summit Price Chopper to buy my groceries from now on. We are creating another store that will be empty. So here we go again chasing our tails. I agree the church is ugly but let's face it the city won't do anything about it until they are good and ready and who knows when that will be.

Pat Casady said...

For those of you out there that have wanted an audit, it appears
you wishes have come true.
It seems after the city wanted the police department to cut back,
a local police organization fronted the money for an audit.
I don't have any details on this other than they say it will happen.
I also don't know how deep the audit will go.

Anonymous said...

Just in case you haven't heard the Mayor is holding a Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, October 30 at City Hall. There will be 2 sessions one at 3PM and again at 7PM. As I understand it it is regarding the downtown business district.

I sure hope this is good news and something we can count on. I plan to be there hope to see you too.

sparky said...

Pat, is this an audit by the State Auditor's Office or by an Independent auditing firm? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Pat - The crime rate in Raytown is twice the US average. Don't you think Police organization should focus on that rather than playing politics. Go to US census and find out.

Pat Casady said...

Sparky,
As I said, I don't know much about this audit but I believe is has been paid for by the police union.

Anonymous 7:37,
This is not the police officers doing this audit it is their union and since you asked what I think I will tell you.
Our police officers work hard for us in Raytown and though Raytown may not have the crime L.A. or Philadelphia do, the police are still dealing with the undesirables, and punks that can put their lives in danger with every confrontation.
What thanks did they get? After someone at City Hall made a financial mistake
they were faced with possible layoffs. So I think their union did the right and only
thing they could, try and find out what went wrong.

As many have said on this site. Taxpayer dollars have been flying out of here and in many cases without questioning why, how or where.
I must admit I haven't been to a B.O.A. meeting since the last election was held
but when I was going to them it seemed that the City Council answered to no body. You couldn't get a straight answer from any of them with the exception of one or two aldermen.
According to old minutes of past meetings and what has been printed in papers there has been enough grant money to almost payoff the old church and tear it down. Where did all that money go?

I haven't, that I recall, ever pushed for an audit. But still it doesn't seem to be
a bad idea. If it makes the taxpayers feel better about where their dollars are going it would be money well spent. Taxing people and the people not seeing much in return other than pay raises, for city management, in some cases, unjustified. Developers being paid for doing nothing.
Then hearing that there isn't enough money to do what they were told would be fixed, repaired, resurfaced and then being told that the police department needs to cut personnel along with city service personnel makes
a person wonder what the heck is going on?

Everybody in Raytown that pays taxes has the right to ask where the money is going. They also have the right to answers.

Anonymous said...

I would hope the audit would cover at least the last eight years and even futher back than that and that every department is audited. The results should be made public now there is news that Mr. Miller could put in the community newspaper!!!!

Anonymous said...

Might want to hurry with the Audit.

Received this bit of news from a relative stationed in the Air Force in Alaska.

It is from the Ketchikan City newspaper - http://www.ketchikandailynews.com/
It reads:
"Another manager application received
9/4/2007
Michael D. Miller, city administrator of Raytown, Mo., is the sixth candidate to have turned in an application to be the next borough manager. Borough Manager Roy Eckert has resigned effective Oct. 31".

It appears that our new City Administrator is actively job hunting to leave Raytown and the troubles he has caused.

What credibility he had remaining is now gone.

The Mayor and BOA should take immediate actions to protect the interest of the City and begin looking for a new City Administrator who has the best interest of Raytown at heart, unlike Miller.

I guess it's true what is said, when the ship starts to sink, the rats are the first to jump off.

Anonymous said...

Ketchikan Daily News
9/29/07
The committee picked Dan Bockhorst of Anchorage, a local government specialist for the state; Stephen Giesbrecht, city administrator of Electra, Texas; and Michael D. Miller, city administrator for Raytown, Mo., to come for interviews with the Assembly scheduled for Oct. 13.

Anonymous said...

Kethcikan Daily News
10/15/2007
By ANDREW DAMSTEDT Daily News Staff Writer After three hour-long interviews Saturday morning, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly hired Dan Bockhorst as the new borough manager. He will start Nov. 1.

Anonymous said...

Too funny! You all do a better job of investigative reporting than any of the "so-called" newspapers!

Anonymous said...

Our city adminstrator has just been hear bearly 1 year and he is already looking for another job. This can't look good for the developements if we can even keep a new CA. What are the developers going to think about both our finance director and the new CA bailing out on us. Mr. Miller is not the man he claimed to be. Also what happened to his wanting to be hear until his sons graduated fron college hear. They have not done that yet.

Everybody needs to ask our new mayor at the town hall meeting on Tuesday what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Pat
Good job explaining your point of view. I will support the audit, if it make sense.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the question should be raised in TOWN HALL meeting.

Anonymous said...

It is time for him to go.

S. Wells said...

I plan on being at the 7:00pm town hall meeting on the 30th. Hope to see many of you there. Any that want to identify theirselves - I will probably have on a black "City Grounds" T-Shirt since I will be coming straight from the shop - hope you will introduce yourselves!

Andy Whiteman said...

IF Mr. Miller leaves, I suggest that the position not be filled. We don't need high paid, tie wearing, seat warmers. I really believe that the Mayor should serve as City Manager and Mayor should be a full time office compensated as such.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Andy, That is a great idea, about having the mayor actually do something more than just run a couple of meetings a month. We need to start cutting cost and this would be a great time to do it.

Andy Whiteman said...

The City needs to be run as a business. Mayor Bower is a businessman. The problem is that it will take a massive reorganization of the way things are done. It would be nice if the Alderpeople would take on the big issues in a reasonable, business-like manner and not argue over the trivial (street lights, etc.) I am not saying street lights and paving are trivial, but they are a small part of the important big picture.

We need to focus on the most important issues (saving this city) first and then deal with the small, but still important items. It seems everyone is sidetracked by bickering over the small items. This is ridiculous!

Andy Whiteman

Itellitlikeitis said...

Andy, you are beginning to sound like you actually care about the community you live in. Could it be that you are starting to like Raytown? Hope I'm right. I may not always agree with your comments, but at least you are trying to be an active participant in our government process, wish more people really cared about the direction we are going as a city.

Andy Whiteman said...

Itellitlikeitis,
You are both right and wrong. Yes, I actually care about the community I live in. That doesn't mean that I am beginning to like Raytown at all but I figure that as long as I am forced to be here, I might as well try to work to change it for the better.

It irks me to see City government missmanaged with highly paid administrators and management that aren't necessary along with tax dollars being wasted. I think if it wasn't for the Olde Baptist Church, other money wasted on downtown redevelopment (with no redevelopment taking place) and overpaid management we would have had money for street lights, paving, and much more! I would like to see management pay reduced as these job holders are replaced or eliminated through attrition or contract expiration. Also, I feel the workers should receive a liveable wage and not the pittance they receive.

I also object to the Code Nazis enforcing arbitrary ordinances with their own interpretation of what they think it means while the city is in violation of its own ordinances by owning a blighted area. Actually the average person thinks the Olde Baptist Church is private property. Perhaps a large sign shoud be posted, "BLIGHTED AREA PROPERTY OF THE CITY OF RAYTOWN."

These issues can be changed, but there is no way to change what bothers me the most: the horrible climate. The climate is the main reason I want to move, not the city. Besides not being able to afford to heat or cool my house, the humidity and heat cause me to have painful fungus infections. I am still house hunting so I can eventually get to a decent climate.

If anyone ever thought that I would move because of the City, they were wrong. Moving is too time consuming and expensive because of a mismanaged city.

If you don't like everything I say, that is OK. We are entitled to our own opinions. If someone will logically state an opposing opinion, I will read and consider it, but I don't pay attention to those who attack personalities. Sometimes what others say will change my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I've been browsing the blog and am impressed by all the people who are visiting and joining in the give and take.

I'm a "newby" here, but I saw one comment by Andy that bothered me. He called street lights a trivial matter.

He probably has street lights in his neighborhood. Where I live it is pitch black outside at night.

Try going without your street lights for a couple of nights and you will see why those without want them so badly.

Anonymous said...

I hope that you all are going to the Mayor's meeting on Tuesday. He needs to be asked about some of the stuff I've read about here.

Especially the comments about the city administrator leaving. This makes the second city official to leave city hall in a month.

Andy Whiteman said...

Anonymous 8:36 AM,
Welcome to the city and to the blog. I live in a dark area with very few street lights and would like to have a few more. About the only lighting we have is if someone turns on a yard light or if there is a full moon.

Yes, I did call street lights a trivial matter but went on to say they were important but a small part of the over all big picture. The main issue, as I see it, is: 1)wasteful spending (high paid tie wearing, seat warmers who take out of town trips or vacations at taxpayers expense),
2) spending excessive money on downtown redevelopment with no progress,
3)harrassing citizens and new businesses with aledged code violations while the city owns a blighted area that is one big code violation.
4) areas of mismanagement such as spending $20,000 so 2 groups can be doing the same job at the same time! It is not the $20K I take issue with, it is the fact it is more wastefull to gave 2 groups doing the same job when one really has no expertise or training in that field.
5) Attracting new business to Raytown.

The above are not necessarily in the order of importance but all are important.

Have you been to any Board of Alderpeople meetings? I was at one meeting where there was a big arguement if $10K could be allowed in the budget for street lights now or if streetlights would be a big project in the future? The next arguement was where the street lights go? One alderwoman said, "We need to have a study." I question, do we pay several thousand dollars for a study on where to spend $10K?

Following that many bloggers were sidetracked to $10K forstreetlights which is trivial to the overall picture. It seems to me that the BOA is constantly sidetracking us away from the big issue and drawing focus to street lights, paving, and $20K for laptops.

I maintain that we need to FOCUS on the real issues and not be sidetracked by the smaller (or I call trivial) issues.

I had one couple look at my house and their comment was, "This street is too dark." Perhaps you should gave looked at your house at night and ruled that house out." I am looking for a house and I walk the neighbor hood of the perspective house during various times including late night.

I hope you, I, and the rest of the city get street lights; however, my focus is on the big picture. One of the cities in the metro is at the point of unincorperating so the county will maintain the streets. It is my opinion that there is a possibility if Raytown can't take control of spending it may eventually unincorporate or be annexed by another city.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Andy is right again, how much longer can Raytown really afford to be a city? If we were a corporation we would definately be looking at a take over.