Sunday, April 12, 2009
The Future of the Raytown Report
The extremely high number of page loads, visitors and posters on this page has shown there is a real need for this blog in Raytown. With that in mind I am pleased to announce that I am taking in some partners to help cover the goings on at Raytown City Hall. Since I am no longer a member of that body my photograph will no longer be shown on the front page. Instead, the blog will continue as a group effort of three individuals who have chosen not to announce their identities at this time. Kansas City Star Ranks Raytown Second Highest in Sales Tax When voters in Raytown approved the half cent sales tax hike last Tuesday they raised Raytown’s status to a new level in the metropolitan area. According to the lead editorial in the Star, Raytown’s sales tax (effective, October 1) will be 8.1%. The rate is second only to Belton which posted a sales tax of 8.225%. In special taxing districts Raytown places first with the new Walmart under development on 350 Highway (for a sample of that tax rate. That tax rate will top out at 9.6% when the store opens. According to City Finance Director Jeremy Wilmoth, the tax could grow another one percent if the city approves a special Transportation Tax District to pay for improvements on 350 Highway and construction of an intermodal bus station for the Area Transportation Authority. If Mr. Wilmoth is correct, that could raise the rate well over the 10% benchmark. Which leaves the question, will people shop at a store knowing that every dollar they spend will cost an additional 10 cents? The downside is that since this is a special tax district, most of the sales tax collected does not go to the city’s coffers but to pay off the debt created to pay for the new store, parking lot, etc., etc. The payment of that debt is set to expire in 23 years. Changes . . . Former candidate for Ward 2 Alderman, Justin Tomac, made an interesting observation. He told of going door to door and repeatedly hearing how people wanted “change” in city government. Justin, who is real straight forward type of guy, asked the next sensible question. “What do you want change?” As a rule, his question was met with bewilderment and a loss of words. Before filing for Alderman this year I wondered the same thing myself. The country had just come off an historic election in which the central theme was “change”. The voters had pretty much bought the campaign sloganeering hook, line and sinker. I wondered how much of this would carry over to the municipal election. A new segment of the population, the younger voter, had been empowered. Anyone tapping their angst and frustration would find fertile ground for votes. I also knew that I could expect a dirty campaign from my opponents. This was nothing new. The opposition, if they mounted a serious campaign, always went below the belt. Another concern, the electorate had changed. I knew that after 27 years of service many of those who helped elect me in when I was 25 years old had either moved on or passed on. My political base was shrinking. Those that knew I was responsible for the sidewalks serving Blue Ridge Elementary, the sidewalks that stretch from the northern city limits to 350 Highway, literally hundreds of streetlights that make Ward 1 the best lit area in town, the countless storm sewer project that turned open storm drainage ditches into covered storm sewers, were all for a generation that was past. The new generation wanted change. Last Tuesday they showed up in superior numbers to enact that change. The victory is theirs. I am curious as to precinct results. I stood part of each day at three different polls. That section north of 63rd Street seemed to going my way -- as did the area south of 350 Highway. However, I was concerned for the middle section of the Ward. The turnout was definitely higher, and the impression I received was favorable at times but more often not so good. Precinct results are supposed to be released this coming Thursday from the Election Board. One of Par-Due’s campaigners, (he actually acted more like a “handler” – but that is another story) was outwardly bragging that the younger voters were going to turn out in large numbers to win the election. As it turned out, he was correct. So, as with all elections, the one with the most votes wins. I have had more than my share of victories (for those keeping count, 12 wins, 5 losses), so I have no complaint about losing. It happens. So all I can say is thank you to those who supported my campaign. Congratulations to my opponent. And hope for the best for Raytown. Some have asked if I have any plans for the future. I will not rule out running for public office again. But for the time being, the role of private citizen sounds very appealing to me and my family. After all, 27 years is a long time for anyone in public service.