Sunday, December 13, 2009
In this week's Raytown Report . . .
Hurry Up and Wait That Loud Sucking Sound Smoke and Mirrors Silver Lining High School Sports Hurry Up and Wait! Downtown Raytown business owners are unhappy with the lack of construction activity on the 63rd Street Bridge. The bridge, which was closed to vehicular traffic on December 1st, has not seen any visible construction activity since that date. Some bloggers have suggested that work is being done on utility lines that run under the bridge. But such work has not been confirmed or denied by city hall. Business owners in Downtown Raytown say they have not been informed of any work schedule. “It’s not that we don’t want the bridge repaired, “ said one Downtown business owner (who asked not to be identified). “The lack of activity on the construction site is frustrating. Traffic is non-existent and it is hurting our Christmas business." That Loud Sucking Sound . . . That loud sucking sound you hear coming from Raytown City Hall is the noise made when taxpayer dollars are being foolishly thrown to the wind. I am writing about the December, 2009 payment to bond holders on the TIF Development District located on 350 Highway – popularly recognized as the new Walmart Store. For those unaware of the situation, here it is. The City of Raytown has backed the TIF agreement with the good faith of the city. If the tax revenue from Walmart does not meet the amount due to pay bondholders of the TIF the city must do so from its own resources. Walmart did not have its store completed on time to create the needed revenue to pay the bondholders. Therefore, the city is reaching into its funds to pay the debt. Let’s be perfectly clear. This debt payment by the City of Raytown was not intended to be paid off in this manner. It is not part of a plan. This topic has been covered before on this page when it was first mentioned last summer. At that time city officials, through Mayor Bower, assured everyone that they (city officials) were aware problem was coming and had planned for it. That, my friends, is a classic example of denial. Simply stated it is not business as usual and it is wrong for city officials to try to mask it as such. Where did the money come from? The lion’s share of the bond payment comes from a settlement of wireless phone tax revenues the city received earlier this year. Other dollars are from funds set aside by the city years ago to relocate Westlake Hardware and dollars left from the original TIF funding package. Put it all together and you end upe with a payment north of $800,000. Smoke and Mirrors . . . City officials are quick to point out that the money used was not from this year’s budget. The simple fact is that the tax dollars used to make this payout will not be recouped by the city. They are tax dollars that could have been used for the maintenance of our neighborhood streets and other infrastructure within the city. Anyone that tells you otherwise is being less than honest. So what is there to gain from all of this finger-pointing? Hopefully, our city leaders have learned from their mistakes and will not repeat them. Raytown has the second highest sales tax in the metropolitan area. For what we pay out in taxes in the small geographic called area called Raytown, our streets should be paved in gold. But when you give your tax revenue away, as is happening with this particular payment of the Walmart/TIF debt, you end up with a city that looks run down and in need of repair. Silver Lining As with all storm clouds there is a silver lining. Walmart officials are reported to have said that the new Walmart in Raytown is out-performing their expectations. This is good news when it comes to paying down the mountain of debt created to build the store, parking lot, 350 Highway improvements, etc. According to city hall sources the additional tax dollars collected by the Walmart Store go to pay off the debt. Early retirement of the bonds are still a long row to hoe. But it is the only sensible solution to an otherwise glum financial forecast. Official data on how much the store is out-performing forecasts will not be known until early next year when the state reports sales tax revenue/receipts. High School Sports Cardinal Wrestling Goes 1 and 1 to Start the Season By Chris Brush of Raytown South High School The Raytown South Cardinal wrestling team started off the season in a double dual against Winnetonka and Hickman Mills. The Cardinals first dual against the Griffins resulted in a 30-33 loss. Lenny Boose, Cory Northup, and Trace Hart posted pins, while Ace Downs, Dominique Garlington, Tylor Kraus, and Sean O'Rear won by decision. In the second dual against Hickman Mills the Cardinals won 63-12. The Cardinal wrestlers dominated the Cougars by winning twelve of the four. For more stories about Raytown South sports visit: Raytown South High School Athletics O'Hara Wrestlers at Grain Valley Tournament By Brother Richard Geimer At the December 5th Grain Valley Wrestling Invitational, Travis Peter won all five of his matches to take First Place in the 130 lb weight class. Teamwise, the O'Hara Celtics were 8th among the 14 participating schools. Jake Fortin won 3rd place in his weight class, Mile Womack was 4th, and Danijo Adams took 5th. Winning their first two matches of their careers, Jimmy Clark and Jeremy Ambrose each came in 6th.