Sunday, September 28, 2008
Let's Fix Raytown
O.k. . . . Some pretty smart people have been writing about what is wrong with Raytown on this blog. Most of the complaints are legitimate. Let's face it, there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed . At least we have taken the first step towards a solution to some of those problems. By “we”, I mean those who participate on this blog. By the “first step” I mean that we recognize the problem. It is truly the “first step” for any cure. So here is what I am going to do. For the next two weeks I will leave this page open (as always) but not publish the following Sunday in hopes of keeping the string of comments intact. The ones who really need to read this page are those who are in seats of power – that is the Board of Aldermen and Mayor. And I believe they read what is written on this blog. Like a good friend of mine once told me, “Greg, your page is like Pitch Magazine. Nobody reads it. But they all know what was in it. ” I will start things off by making some observations. Jump in any time you want. TAX ABATEMENTS: Raytown is literally bleeding tax dollars from tax abatements that have been handed out like candy to children on Halloween. By the city’s own figures, Walmart will gobble up from 12% to 16% of the sales tax revenue for the next 23 years. Instead of going to city services, those tax dollars will pay the debt incurred to make the new Walmart Store possible. We cannot undo the deal that was made. But we can make some changes in the future. In a perfect world, we would not have any more tiff or property tax abatements. But in case we do, the city should at least create claw-back provisions that would nullify the abatements, etc., if the opplicant were to shut down their operation before the abatement period ends. Raytown’s current abatement programs lack such provisions. OPEN UP THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS: The current administration has been adept at keeping legislation of the agenda that, for one reason or another, it does not want on the agenda. Jim Aziere’s smoking ban, Pat Ertz’ fireworks legislation and legislation to start a two year notification period for curbside recycling have been kept off the agenda for up to a year and a half. The bottom line is this. There is more to running a city than economic development. If you want a true sense of community, stop the stonewalling and let those issues move forward. There are good people who really care about them in our city. They have a right to be heard. SECRECY/AUDIT: Remove the veil of secrecy at City Hall. It has been a long time since the city had an audit that explored more than an annual rendering of the books. Stories of irregularities in the former city administrator’s budget should be exposed – if in fact they existed. The best way to silence your critics is to expose all you have to the light of day. If problems are exposed – what better way is there to address them? There you have it. Three areas I believe should be addressed. Remember to include a solution to your thoughts. Who knows, maybe someone at City Hall will listen and run with your idea.