Sunday, June 8, 2008

Transportation Sales Tax and Broken Promises

Voters approved a one-half cent Transportation Sales Tax in 2003. They also approved a General Obligation Bond earmarked for transportation at the same election. Both taxes had a five-year sunset provision. The voters extended the Transportation Sales Tax in 2007. The General Obligation Bonds were allowed to expire and not replaced with a new tax. When the 2007 – 2008 budget was written, then City Finance Director Dan Estes did not include the final payment for the bonds in the budget until after all other budgetary matters were considered. When it became clear that the funds had not been set aside for repayment of the bonds, tax dollars from the 2007-2008 Transportation Sales Tax were tapped to retire the debt. Since the money had already been spent, street overlay and maintenance was severely cutback. Some at City Hall are saying that this scenario shows that sales tax dollars were properly spent on transportation. The spin on that statement is so radical that it makes you dizzy. Sure, a good chunk of the Transportation Tax was used to pay off the debt of bonds used to improve streets. But that was not the promise made to the voters when they approved the one-half cent sales tax for transportation. The official explanation given by City Hall on why streets are not being repaired is less than honest. The simple truth is that the ball was dropped when the 2007 – 2008 budget was written. Sales tax dollars earmarked for street maintenance was spent to retire bond indebtedness – period. The bottom line is the voters were promised their tax dollars would go to pay a guaranteed annual outlay of money for street improvements. That promise was broken when the Board of Aldermen voted to use Sales Tax Transportation dollars to pay off general obligation bonds. The bureaucratic machinery at City Hall needs to stop with this smoke and mirrors type of justification for its actions. It fools no one. This type of short-sighted thinking hurts our city’s image and rips away the trust the voters have in their elected officials. It also questions the ability of City Hall to manage the most basic purpose of any city -- maintaining our city’s infrastructure. The Administration erred when it tapped the Transportation Sales Tax to pay off bond debt. A mistake was made. It must not be repeated. City Hall should learn a lesson and keep a better handle on tax expenditures, particularly those that are tied to promises made to voters. The Board of Aldermen should learn from this mistake and take steps to make certain it does not happen again. The Walmart Test . . . Soon the Board will have a chance to put that lesson to the test. A new Walmart is planned for construction on 350 Highway. Part of the money that funds the TIF for the center comes from the one-half cent Transportation Sales Tax. To keep faith with the voters in Raytown, the Board of Aldermen should make certain that sales tax dollars derived from the Transportation Sales Tax are replaced by other city revenue. If they do not, look for a decrease of up 18% of money spent on street improvements for the next 23 years. Speaking of Walmart . . . Does anyone know when the groundbreaking is supposed to take place? I am on the Board of Aldermen and have not been able to find out! So, let’s have a contest. Send in your predictions of the date and time the ground-breaking for the new Walmart Center. The winner of the contest will receive recognition for his or her precognitive ability on this blog and a ten dollar gift certificate from the new Walmart Store when it opens.

41 comments:

Andy Whiteman said...

Could the Transportation Tax issue be the reason that Dan Estes left?

I wonder if there is legal recourse against the city for these mismanaged funds and broken promises? Like maybe class action suit? I hope all board members have errors and ommissions insurance. At least the city should. If not, they should check into it for future snafus.

Ground breaking day for Walmart: When they get around to it. Most likely NEVER the way things are progressing. They already have another store so close on 40 HWY that they would be competing against themselves. (By the way, I used to predict AT&T operator services office closings long before they were announced.)

Andy Whiteman

PS. I assume anyone who signs as anonymous will have no way of collecting his/her prize. I also assume if my prediction of NEVER is correct, I have no way of collecting my gift certificate.

Greg Walters said...

Andy,

You are right on both counts. An anonymous blogger would have trouble convincing anyone who he or she is . . . And the Walmart Gift Certficate will have to be purchased at the new Raytown location.

sparky said...

Has anyone seen the ridiculous piece of PR work that was in the KC Red Star today titled 'RAYTOWN {A RENEWED ENERGY}'?

It is sort of like putting the cart before the horse. The downtown area that they discuss in the paper doesent even exsist as of yet. The archetectural drawings show all new buildings in the downtown area, a community center, ampitheater, and new offices/shops.

The big reason there are a lot of younger people coming to Raytown is not just about the high gas prices, it is because a lot of properties are either being rented because they cannot be sold for what the owners have in them, or they managed to get the properties super cheap like in a forclosure sale.

In order to shop, you still have to go to other outlying cities to get everything that you need, and you are limited here as to resturaunts also, so you have to travel outside the city limits again if you want something different that the few that are located here.

Looks like city hall, the chamber of commerce, and the school district had better get on the ball and get something done before Raytown goes down anymore than it already is today. Better start with getting rid of Truesdale, revamping the codes department, make changes with the chamber of commerce, the BOA, and the School Board, plus fix the crumbling streets and sidewalks also so that it does not look like a run down slum.

Wait till the new Wal Mart goes in on 350. Anyone that lives around there had better try to sell out now while they still can! Things will only get worse.

sparky said...

I cannot predict an exact date, but I would say that as soon as the new building for the vo tech school is complete, and any remodeling at the Aquila building is complete, and the district moves their IT servers and hardware from the old Herndon west campus, and furniture from the west campus as well, then I would say that there may be a ground breaking ceremony, unless they must demolish the old west campus beforehand, then it will be longer.

Sound logical?

Anonymous said...

How about this for Raytown School District smarts: They are moving the Raytown School district warehouse (located at the Herndon West campus where the new Walmart is going to go) to the "caves" on N-435 and 210 hwy. Talk about spending ALOT on gas to transport the supplies needed to run the district! Here we go again, give them a levy increase and they go wild with the extra money they are getting from the tax payers. You can't tell me that they couldn't find a building closer to store their supplies. Waste, waste, waste!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow.... now that is a really stupid thing to do. Couldnt they find an old building here locally for that?

Andy Whiteman said...

How can these wastefull idiots even hope to educate children? Maybe they can teach them proper wasteful spending. Remember the goal is to spend more than is collected in taxes so they can raise taxes. (Actually the stradegy in government is to spend the entire budget to justify an increase the next year--otherwise if there is a surplus, the budget will be cut. So it hurts to have a surplus.)

Does this mean that the NON-QUALITY school district will make a run to the caves everytime they need a ream of paper or a pen with gas at $4 per gallon?

I saw the Raytown flier in the KC Red Star but didn't look at it in detail to see the ampitheater. I thought that hadn't been decided on. Boy will there be noise issues and crowd control! Hopefully it gets nixed.

I couldn't believe a photo of the Olde Baptist Church looking like the beautiful building it once was leaving people to wonder why it will be demolished.

One thing that I wonder about is when someone comes to Raytown to look at a house to buy, what do they think when they see the condition of the roads and maybe hit a few potholes?

I had a showing of my house one night a few years ago when it was on the market. The lady commented as they were leaving, "This street is sure dark. It really isn't safe." The only lighting was my pole lamp and a pole lamp in the yard about 100 yards away followed by a street light another 1/2 block away. I pointed out there was a street light across from my house but a tree blocked the light.

Not only that, there are areas without storm sewers and runoff is via a ditch along the side of the road which is both a pedestrian and traffic hazard. I fell into one shortly after moving here.

Given the above circumstances, who would buy or even rent in Raytown?

By the way, I hope I am the winner (or loser) of the Walmart ground breaking date. We don't need them here to drive up OUR taxes for the next 23 years.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

July 13, 2010 at 1:30 pm. But if I win spend the $10 with Smith Bros Hardward or some other local business rather than giving me a Wal-Mart gift certificate...cuz' you don't want to know what I'd use that for! Lee Gray
PS. The Mayans predict the end of the world Dec. 21, 2012 so the loss of sales taxes to the city shouldn't be a long-term problem.

Anonymous said...

finally back on here. i'll try again as was ready to an hour and half ago when wahhhhhllllllllllaaah the Comcast cable and tv went off. that's seven times in eight days that service has been interupted and about ten percent of the time. greg i hope you see that we get a ten percent discount on our bills for june. call me ms. comcastic ain't so fantastic

Pat Casady said...

Andy, I think you are under the wrong assumptions.
The school board cares little about the students. They are into spending and
and pushing for more tax increases so they can spend more.
Just as the City Council (BOA) is into shortsighted business deals
and giveaways.
The only difference is the students have the teachers to make sure they are taught right from wrong along with lessons. Unlike the existing businesses and the citizens of Raytown, we have nobody, or very few,
that will watch out for us along with how we are treated and where and how our tax dollars are spent.
The only recourse we have is to vote out and support new people to run this town. As I have said before, it's a shame elected officials lose their
minds and common sense when they are sworn in. They seem to forget
the reason they were elected, and promises made.

The police have a saying "To serve and Protect."
City Hall's it would seem, is to screw and ignore.

Pat Casady said...

Greg, one more thing.
Could you, on this post list the
Email addresses for all the BOA?
Maybe if they heard from the people
via Email they might undrestand how some of us feel.

sparky said...

The email thing is a good idea, however, be careful. They have spam filters enabled that sometimes keeps them from getting your email, thus you never get a reply back until someone checks the bulk or spam mail box.

Keep in mind that just like with other elected officials on the state and federal levels, you can tell them what your viewpoint is and they will still vote for what they feel is right, not what the majority of who they represent views as right, which is how it should be.

Andy Whiteman said...

Yes, Pat, I know the Non-Quality School District cares little about students. But the public is SUPPOSED to think that they do. After all some people believe the lies and vote for a tax increase!

As for email addresses. Go to:

www.raytown.mo.us

You will find email addresses and phone numbers of the Mayor, BOA, department heads and other employees. Generally an employee's email address is in the format first initial last name@raytown.mo.us or
last name first initial@raytown.mo.us

and I will tell you that they do hear from me both good and bad. If someone does a good job, a CC also goes to their supervisor as well as Mayor Bower. I send my requests for service this way (unless emergency) so that there is documentation.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I ran into a bus mechanic for the so called Raytown Quality Schools, and he was telling me that he was glad that the district was getting some new busses. He also stated that the Raytown district had 3 busses that were really beyond repairing. A group of mechanics told the director (no longer there) that it would be too expensive to repair and to a tune of $10,000.00 per bus. The director said "fix them". Then a short time later the 3 busses were traded off for $800.00 per bus is all the district got! Common sense deserves an "F" for the Raytown School district!!

Anonymous said...

The piece in the Kansas City Star this weekend about Raytown was a joke. Can you believe that these jokers at city hall want you to believe that their downtown plan is ever going to be a reality. Give me a break. What LIARS.

Andy Whiteman said...

They may not be liars but are real dreamers.

It is about time for laughingalltheway to make a comment because that supplement is laughable. Almost borders on false advertising except the BBQ is true.

Andy Whiteman

Salamander said...

Greetings from the Salamander

Could someone please tell me what is going on in Raytown Development, Renewal, etc.

TEAR IT DOWN? Is the abandoned Baptist Church building ever going to come down? If we wait much longer the structure might just collapse; solving our problem.

The “smoke and Mirrors” excuse by the City for not getting this eyesore removed is ridiculous. The former Church is a health hazard. The Mayor has a duty to assert his position and power to have it removed immediately.

There is something disgusting about the city being the biggest slum lord in the area. It took less time to remove debris from the New York Twin Towers than it is taking to tear down one building in Raytown.

WALMART, MY WALMART, Ground-breaking day came and went. Did I some how miss the ceremonies? Talk on the street is that the entire project is stalled. What’s next?

You most certainly will not find out reading anything reading our local papers. Both are spaced out on “pablum” reporting. Small wonder their circulation is miniscule.

IT’S TIME! What ever happened to the watch tower Raytown’s non resident, Alle Maddox, was crusading for. Has time run out? (What a terrible pun.)

We should do something to enhance that spit of land called a downtown park. It would dress up the area and the unused park bench located thereen.

Look for legislation to add another ½ cent sales tax for police protection; another ½ cent for light rail and believe it or not, there is talk about another school property tax increase.

Andy Whiteman said...

Salamander, you missed it. The school property tax increase was passed in the last election. Sad but true!

As for the Olde Baptist Church, I have pointed this out at BOA meetings in kinder language not once, but numerous times. At the last meeting I said that the City had an attractive nuisance.

Someone dug up and old, attractive, photo of said church and published it in the Raytown supplement of the KC Red Star with the caption, "To be demolished." Anyone with common sense would wonder why such an attractive building was to be demolished.

Andy Whiteman

Pat Casady said...

I can't even express my feelings about what City Hall has done to this
town most of us care deeply for.
It would be no surprise that more tax increases were on the way.
City Hall has given away most of it's income and I'm sure the School Board
is not finished spending all it can.
Even the people that think the city and the school can do no wrong
will have to look hard before passing another tax increase, with the high
price of living, it's hard to survive. With the high price of gasoline and groceries
nobody can afford much more wasteful spending.

I guess it's easy for these elected officials to sit there, spend and giveaway
taxpayer dollars without so much as a single question.
City Hall needs to tighten up it's spending belt, quit giving away tax income and
expecting the taxpayer to make up for their stupid mistakes.
Raytown needs a change and it needs to start with City Hall.
Raytown needs elected officials that care more for the people of Raytown
than they do for big businesses. Elected officials that will keep their heads
out of the dark places. Taxpayers, contrary to the beliefs of City Hall, are NOT
made of money.

It's easy for these people to ask for a 1/2 cent here and there but you see what
adding a few cents to the gallon of has done for us. Once it starts it's hard
for them to quit. Especially when getting a tax increase is loaded with promises
of good streets and so on. The voters have fallen for empty promises far too
long.

Not that it matters what I think but, I'm extremely disappointed with the elected
officials that impressed me early on. I truly thought they would do better.

Andy Whiteman said...

I think the voters will continue to approve Non-Quality School Tax Increases. They don't care that they don't have enough money to live on. The magic words are, "IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN!" These idiot voters don't question if it will really imporove education, is wasted, or even how it will affect the voter's nudget. The average voter is a complete idiot.

Andy Whiteman

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

Takes one to know one, doesn't it Andy?

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen had their annual junket last night. They disguise this as a retreat. Always held out of town with a catered dinner and such. Thought Bower would put a stop to this foolishness, but guess I was wrong. More waste of our tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

Did you really think Bower was going to be a different hog at the through? Come on! Let's be realistic here!
And to the person who addressed Andy above, right on. We've read here before that he doesn't believe in public education because he doesn't have children despite the fact he benefited well, maybe, from taxpayers without children paying taxes so he could an elementary education. He's also the one I recall saying we should not be name calling.

Anonymous said...

Now, children behave or I might have to put you in time out!

Pat Casady said...

On a more serious matter,
It's a matter of fact that Raytown will lose 18 to 20% of it's income, probably more, when the new Wal-Mart opens on 350hwy.
Does anybody know if the city has a plan to make it up?
Raytown will most certainly lose more businesses when this superstore opens and the property values will go down around that area too.
Meaning less real estate and sales taxes (from closing businesses)
collected.
We have already seen that the developer can't sell anything south of the proposed Wal-Mart site. Remember that was supposed to have already had a ground breaking.
Apparently the Raytown Plaza is dead, the construction company hasn't been paid for their work so they've stopped.
This is a scary deal and I haven't heard of, nor seen any movement in a positive direction.

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

What scares me about the current housing market is if people aren't making their house payments, obviously they aren't paying their taxes. The lender will have to take care of it to keep the property, but foreclosures generally force property values down. With property values down, what will be the source of revenue for the city an the Non-Quality School District?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

This board of aldermen sure seems to have their priorities screwed up. Example: Big Barb Schlapia and her cronies couldn't wait to pass legislation protecting hogs in our homes. But to protect our children from second hand smoke, her and her friends are going to do everything in their power to kill Mr. Azier's progressive legislation. What's wrong with this picture? Animals before our children? Ole "backward Raytown" is in the news again. Where is Mayor Bower's leadership? We will remember how you voted.

Anonymous said...

Jim Aziere and progressive in the same sentence? There's an oxymoron!

Anonymous said...

Hey, 12:52 PM maybe it's just half the word: A moron.

Anonymous said...

Andy; by law property values are determined by the county assessors every two years. Those values always seem to increase; their assessment is never based on real value of the property. That is why our taxes have increased tremendously over the years, with the school district, city, and county enjoying the windfall of new tax money coming in without have to make any effort to get it. Of course in addition to this they keep asking for additional tax increases, which are usually granted by the “fools” who buy into their lies about why they need them!

Anonymous said...

To; Anonymous June 12, 2008 12:33 PM………..unless you ban smoking in private residences, your “progressive” smoking ban would be useless as far as “second hand” smoke relative to children.

Most of the few eating establishments we still have in Raytown don’t allow smoking now. I believe the bars allow smoking. I don’t think the kids are frequenting the bars as of yet, although if they did YOU would probably consider that “progressive”, you just wouldn’t want to allow smoking!

Anonymous said...

Used to be that people wouldn't even think about taking their children to bars, or bar and grills, because it was not considered 'proper' and usually was not a good example to the children.

Nowdays just about anything goes, I have seen parents getting flat sauced while their kids run amuck and tick off the other patrons. When we see that, generally we classify that as 'white trash'. Seems like it is a everyday occurance anymore.

Common sense left town a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Let's count up how many "sit down" eating establishments we have in Raytown. No fast food joints with drive thrus included.
Las Chili's, Ginger's, Jerry's Steakhouse, Denny's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Mama China - all allow smoking. Buffalo Wild Wings banned smoking a couple of years ago and that only lasted a couple of weeks until they reinstated it. Applebee's - don't know about smoking.
5K Cafe, Bread Crumb and Sante Fe Inn all closed within the last year.
Can anyone think of others?

Anonymous said...

Nope!

Anonymous said...

You're giving Raytown too much credit for sit down restaurants. Santa Fe and Jerry's Steakhouse are really in KC.

Andy Whiteman said...

Raytown needs quality sit down restaurants. There is one place I like which I class as 5 star (not in Raytown) that draws many customers from Kansas. The owner said he ran ads in the Red Star to draw these customers. I asked why he didn't advertise in Raytown? The response, "People in Raytown don't spend money." That may explain why Raytown doesn't have restaurants or good stores. By the way, I did see an ad from this restaurant in my copy of the Red Star so maybe this owner decided to advertise in Raytown.
I don't know if smoking is allowed because I don't care either way.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

You go to a restaurant to eat a meal, not smoke a carton of cigarettes. Take it outside! Maybe some of us don't want to smell like your ashtray!

Anonymous said...

Don't count on having quality teachers in our district either, thanks to the school board and administration. From what I understand through my high schooler, there's been a mass exodus of the really good teachers at Ray South and South Middle this year. Let's just say, the trickle down effect of tax increases never seem to find its way into their pockets.

Anonymous said...

Word has it that there were a lot more teachers that left from Raytown High School at the end of the year than from South High. Someone needs to put some pressure on the school board to get some answers. The info that I have is that there are problems with people within administration for instance Principals getting attitudes and control issues with teachers, and turning some teaching jobs in the district to traveling jobs between buildings. Pony up some more pay for these teachers! This district is more of a revolving door every day!