As we drive past these properties we see that they are some of the major eyesores within our community. At Woodson Village the light post are slowly rusting away while pieces of ceiling fail upon heads of customers as they walk along the sidewalks that join the business. Many of the storefronts set vacant, but this is just one of many vacant promises from this company. The East Side of Raytown Road at 350 Highway is a ghost town of properties managed by this same company that are slowly decaying and transforming into the new icon of Raytown’s blighted future. Our mayor and aldermen believed that somehow this company would be the saving grace to the Wal-Mart give away. Yet this past week even the "Sunshine Happiness" normally report in the "Raytown Post" clearly pointed to the disaster in our future. Thanks to our elected officials buying the words of this developer a new shortfall awaits us. One would have thought we would have learned our lesson after Red Development left us in the "Red" with our downtown project. First Impressions… By Richard Tush CBS Advertising was very eager earlier this year to obtain approval to replace a billboard on 350 highway with an even larger one. Yet, while I was out this week I noticed many of the billboards operated by CBS in Raytown face maintenance neglect. The poles and / or sign frames are rusting and yet this company wanted to add an additonal one of their eyesores to the city. It seems that the business going before the Board of Alderman would cleanup their act and make their properties as presentable as they do the individuals they send to city hall to make presentations on their behalf. An Editorial Reply to a False Accusation… By Greg Walters An anonymous writer wrote the following false statement in a recent blog. Greg may have voted no, what was his real reason? Was he just wanting to cover himself if something went wrong? Since I was there and the anonymous writer was not I thought it would be best to set the record straight on my "NO vote" regarding Wal-Mart. The Board of Aldermen held many meetings before it went public that Wal-Mart was being courted to come to Raytown. I never was wild about the plan. In the first place, Wal-Mart has a reputation for destroying local economies. I am also not wild about TIF’s and tax abatements. In fact, it was a rare event that I would cast a vote in favor of one. But that was not my main reason for opposing the deal. To make a long story short, the Wal-Mart proposal was a no-win situation from the beginning. The city literally gave everything allowed by law to entice Wal-Mart to open a new center on 350 Highway. Part of the TIF deal was to obligate any sales tax generated by the new Wal-Mart to pay for the TIF bonds. That meant breaking a promise the Board made to the voters when approval was given for a half-cent transportation sales tax. The promise broken was that money raised from the half cent tax would be used exclusively for transportation purposes in Raytown -- street repair, street overlay, bus service and so forth. That promise was quickly forgotten when the Wal-Mart TIF was approved. I told Board members that I would be voting against the Wal-Mart deal because it was not a good deal for Raytown. My fear was that if fuel prices were to spike (they did, to about $4.00 a gallon) or if the economy were to go south (the mortgage/housing crisis followed by the current recession) Raytown would have a Wal-Mart Store, a tremendous amount of debt and a lot of vacant land. Economically speaking, a perfect storm. Even worse, part of the deal guaranteed payment of the TIF bonds by the city’s general fund if Wal-Mart did not produce the money through sales tax revenue. Most readers may not be aware of this simple truth. It is not a common practice for governing bodies to guarantee TiF bonds. The reason is simple. If it is such a good deal – a slam dunk, a sure thing, whatever – why does it need to have a guarantee? The burden of risk in venture capitalism should rest with the investor. In the Raytown Wal-Mart case, there is no risk. We have promised to pay whatever the Wal-Mart Store does not produce in sales tax. That is why the City is in the situation it is facing today. The written contract in the TIF agreement clearly states that the city will make the bond payments if the sales tax from the new Wal-Mart Store does not meet expectations. The store is not completed and obviously behind schedule. The TIF Bond payments must be made. That is why the city will be making $800,000 in TIF payments in December. An additional million dollars will be due in the summer of 2010. That loud sucking sound you hear is the sound of your tax dollars paying for Wal-Mart. I did not just stand back after the deal. I spoke against the proposal in public meetings before and after the vote. In fact, in a guest editorial published in the Raytown Post, I went into minute detail explaining how the TIF financing worked and why it was a bad plan for Raytown. This impressed some of my fellow Board members so much that they wanted to impeach me for practicing my constitutional right of free speech. So, my anonymous friend, go tell your tales to someone else. Don’t try to hang the foolhardy decisions of the Board of Aldermen around my neck. The rope does not fit. What Our Readers Thought… Last week we asked if non-residents should pay higher fees to use park services. The results were 74% of our readers believe that fees for usage of park services should be tied to residence. We hope that with the park board considering requesting renewal of the sales tax to fund services that they first look at taking some of the burden off the residence and increase fees for non-residences. By the way the parks department estimates that around 90% of those currently paying fees to use our services are non-residents. Fix This Eyesore… DAY 64 – 84th Street Sanitary Sewer Project: The mess left behind by the city after sanitary sewer improvements remain.Day 57 - Time to Get Serious About Cleaning up Raytown: The proliferation of large trucks using our city as a parking lot. It is especially noticeable along 350 Highway. Day 57 – Stop the Mosquitoes: The breeding ground for mosquitoes appears to have been fixed after checking for standing water following Tuesday's rain. Day 57 – Green Space: The grass areas that were damaged by the chamber event still remain unrepaired. At a BOA meeting prior to the SummerFest event Alderman Charlotte Melson said the Chamber would repair damage to the grass. Day 43 – Minor Smith Park: The mess left behind by the city after sanitary sewer improvements remain. Day 26 – Crescent Creek: Wires still dangle from the pole. Day 29 – Former Religious Store: Allowed to decay. Day 8 – The burned home at 8510 Stark: Remains a nuisance to the neighborhood
NOTE: Click on any of the picture to enlarge it.
Local Meetings and Events: Aug 4th – Board of Alderman meeting 7:00 PM at city hall. Aug 6th – Planning & Zoning Commission meeting 7:00 PM at city hall Note: call the day of the meeting to make sure it has not be canceled due to no items being brought before the commission. Aug 8th –Raytown Fire Department vs. Raytown Police softball game at Coleman Park Aug 10th – Board of Education meeting 6:30 PM at school district office Aug 11th – Finance Committee meeting 7:00 PM at city hall Aug 13th – Board of Zoning Adjustments meeting 7:00 PM at city hall July 20th – Park Board meeting 7:00 PM at park administrative office Aug 17th – First Day of School Aug 17th – Park Board meeting 7:00 PM at park administrative office Aug 18th – Early Childhood Preschool Begins Aug 18th – Board of Alderman meeting 7:00 PM at city hall Aug 20th – Human Relations Commission meeting 6:00 PM at city hall Aug 24th – Board of Education Tax Rate Hearing Meeting 5:30 PM at school district office Aug 25th – Municipal Committee meeting 6:00 PM at city hall