Sunday, December 16, 2007
Many Changes at City Hall
Raytown City Hall has seen its share of change this past year. A large amount of that change has been in employee turnover. Personnel changes are not peculiar to government when administrations change. David Bower’s fledgling first term as Mayor is not an exception. The past year has seen an unusual amount of turnover in key positions at City Hall. Part of the turmoil can be attributed to unfinished business left over from Mayor Sue Frank eight years as Mayor. In the waning years of her administration, Frank saw the replacement of a City Administrator, two Directors of Public Works, and a revolving door in the Office of the City Attorney. Mayor Bower inherited that reality. It was added to when the City’s Finance Director of ten years announced -- this past summer -- that he was moving on. Shortly afterward, the interim Finance Director -- who had worked under him-- announced she had found employment elsewhere. The city is currently looking for a new Human Resources Director and a number of long time employees have either left or announced their intention to retire. Revelations that the City Administrator has been shopping for a new job in Alaska also surfaced this summer. Like a screen door blowing in the wind – the movement of employees in key management positions at city hall has been, to say the least, fierce these past few years. Bower is well past six months in office – a time period that is generally accepted as long enough for any CEO to get his feet wet. Time will tell how his new appointments and changes to how business is conducted at city hall will shake out. STREET LIGHTS and OTHER GOOD NEWS . . . At the same time there has been progress by the City Council on some fronts. The Board of Aldermen has broken the back of former Mayor Sue Frank’s moratorium on new street lights. First, by having new lights installed at Colman Park on 59th Street earlier this summer and then by adding $10,000 for new lights in this year’s budget. The city is continuing with some programs that are citizen friendly. A circuit breaker program to help those who cannot afford the ever-escalating cost of sanitary sewer bills is still in place. As is a 2% reduction in cost for those who wish to pay their sewer bills on an annual basis. Snow and ice removal on Raytown streets remain at its superior level of service. And the police and court systems appear to be handling business in their usual competent manner. New businesses are starting to relocate in Downtown Raytown – though it would be accurate to describe it as a trickle instead of a flood. The vest pocket park created in Downtown Raytown, lit up in Christmas lights, is a small step in the right direction. At least it shows concrete proof of effort and result by City Hall. Replacement of the old 63rd Street Bridge at Raytown Road and 63rd Street should help spur that trickle into something more substantial. WEIRD NEWS . . . While reviewing my correspondence from City Hall this week I came across the city’s list of priorities for the state legislature to consider this year. It was an interesting list that speaks volumes of how government works these days. One of the items calls for ANOTHER half-cent sales tax. This one would be earmarked for public safety. How about this idea. Make it and other special earmarked taxes exempt from being pirated away by TIF agreements. The TIF agreement for the Walmart on 350 Highway captures 100% of the sales tax (generated in the TIF District) originally voted by the voters for transportation purposes. That “transportation tax” was a good chunk of the tax dollars used to overlay and pave our streets. But my favorite on the list was the request that Raytown have one zip code. Time for a reality check. Zip codes are established by the United States Postal Service. Though technically a separate entity of even the federal government, the Postal Service derives its monopoly from the federal government. That monopoly was not created by the state government, but by the feds. Beside the fact that the zip code will not be changed, the wrong branch of the government is being asked to change it! The big question is – are there more important topics to discuss with our State Senators and State Representatives than one zip code for Raytown?