Sunday, May 10, 2015


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Donation boosts reward in
slain jogger case to $25,000 BY KAREN YANCEY OF KMBC.COM
KANSAS CITY, Mo.  —  A donation has boosted the total reward to $25,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case of a slain jogger three years ago. Harry Stone, 67, was shot May 13, 2012, while jogging at about 7:20 a.m. at 67th and Blue Ridge Boulevard in Raytown. He died later at a hospital. Surveillance video showed a dark-colored car driving north on Blue Ridge Boulevard that passed Stone as he was jogging and someone opened fire on him. Police believe there were two men in the car, a driver and the shooter.

New Board 
Flexes Its Muscle
If anyone wondered what differance there would be between the old Board of Aldermen and the new Board of Aldermen should read the Paul Livius Report or use our link to the YouTube video of last Tuesday’s meeting. It will not take long to see the difference. Five new faces can be seen on the dais. Last Tuesday, they showed they mean business.

It is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Bureaucrats often bring fee increases to the Board very early in the term when a new Board is elected. This Board has shown it is quick to learn. The topic was the city’s  health insurance package for employees. City staff had confused the issue by mislabeling the two insurance packages before them. Veteran Alderman Bill VanBuskirk saw through smoke and mirrors and made a motion to approve the package that cost taxpayers less.


At Tuesday night’s meeting the Board was confronted with a 7 page list of fee and tax increases the city staff wanted to place on small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups in Raytown. The Board rejected the recommendation. Ward 5 Alderman Eric Teeman, pointedly asked how the tax figures were arrived at. The city's Publi9c Information Officer, Brenda Gustafson, told the Board she called around to other cities and asked what they charged.

During the discussion members of City Staff contradicted themselves over how non-payment of taxes would be enforced. At one point City Administrator Mahesh Sharma said they would shut down the operation only to say a few minutes later a business would not be shut down.

Among other questions, Teeman asked why a business holding a $75 license to sell a product in the City would be required to obtain a $90 license to give a product away – such as at a wine tasting in an established business. 

He also questioned why a food truck license/permit would cost more than a catering license/permit. Which caused me to wonder if a restaurant has a license to sell food, must it obtain another license/permit to offer a catering service of the same food?


During former Mayor Bower’s last year in office the city agreed to split the cost of improvements to Super Splash USA Water Park with the Park Board. Unknown to City Hall, the contracts had already been agreed upon and the work finished during Bower’s term. The new Board was confronted with $80,000 worth of contracts to honor at the last meeting. Apparently the contracts were fulfilled without city participation in the process. If so, no one on City Staff owned up to being aware of the contracts.

City Staff recommended the $80,000 be paid out of the city’s street light fund. This brought a rejoinder from newly elected Alderman Steve Meyers, who said, “Come on people, Super Splash does not trump street lights in Raytown!”

The Board turned down staff’s recommendation and directed them to take the money from the General Fund.


But the most interesting conversation was over a request for an additional $10,500 to pay for repairs to a water slide at Super Splash. The additional money was required because the Park Department copied the incorrect specifications for the slide from bid document two years old. The bid document released was 55 feet too short.

Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black asked the obvious question . . . who measured the slide?

The contractor admitted he did not verify the length and questioned the professionalism of a anyone who would put out specifications that were incorrect. 

After lengthy discussion by led by Aldermen Mark Moore and Steve Meyers, the Board rejected the request.


Toward the close of business Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene asked that city staff to provide statistical information on the amount of tax dollars collected by various TIF projects in Raytown. He pointed out that the fee schedule for the payment of bonds created for Walmart on 350 Highway is scheduled to increase soon and wanted to know the city’s liability as a result.


Baseball Wisdom
City Administrator Mahesh Sharma told the Board of Aldermen they had the most professional staff in the area serving them. The events exposed at last week’s meeting make me wonder.  A word of advice to our City Administrator . . . if someone is good at something it is self-evident.

For instance, if I say the Kansas City Royals are the best baseball team in the American League Central Division, few would disagree. That is because the Royals are in sole possession of First Place and have one of the best won/loss records in baseball this year.

The Royals do not need me to say they are the best. Their actions speak for themselves.

It is not necessary for me to ballyhoo their achievements and accomplishments. It is self-evident.

Do we have the most professional staff in city staffdom? When the measurement of a large water slide is not checked out, someone took a shortcut instead of doing the real work of creating bid specifications. When fee increases are blindly set by doing what “other cities” are doing, the person doing it is not studying the situation in Raytown. When contracts are awarded that cost $80,000 and the Board of Aldermen are unaware the contracts have been awarded, then someone is not following up.

The last paragraph does not speak of professionalism. It speaks of shortcuts, lack of responsibility, transparency and a nonchalant attitude of “budget, what budget?”

To view meeting use this link: May 5th City Council Meeting

The Paul Livius Report 
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – May 5, 2015
Terry Copeland went before the Board to say he was concerned about the codes enforcement.  He asked why an antique vehicle in pristine condition has to be tagged.  He said the state of Missouri doesn’t require vehicles not being used on city streets be tagged.  He could understand the city being upset if it was a vehicle on cider blocks or in poor condition.  He also asked why homeowners are required to keep the grass cut and yards trash free but rental properties seem to have different rules.  He asked if vacant properties are not eligible to receive code violations.  He said not having a 24 hour animal control department is a problem.  People let their animals run loose in the evenings when animal control is closed.

The Board approved the appointment of Michael Lightfoot to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

A resolution was presented to the Board to amend the schedule of fees.  Alderman Teeman said it was a lot of new fees.  He asked why the city was making it so complex.  Brenda Gustafson said the city is trying to bring Raytown’s fee schedule in line with the state of Missouri.  For example, the city doesn’t have a license for catering.  The city is coming into compliance with the State for the alcohol tasting license.  Alderman Teeman said if a business is serving food and alcohol, what does it matter if it is catered or served off the back of a truck.  Ms. Gustafson said there are different inspection and standards required by Jackson County.  Alderman Teeman said the schedule was too complicated.  Alderman Jason Greene asked why the credit card processing fee was 2.5% in person but 3% for online purchases.  Ms. Gustafson said the city passes on the fees charged by the credit card processing company.  Alderman Greene asked what happens if a vendor doesn’t know about the new license requirements and sets up shop without one.

Ms. Gustafson said the Code Enforcers drive around the city and when thy find someone who is not in compliance, the vendor is told he has a certain numbers of days to get the license.

Alderman Van Buskirk said he was not in favor of waiving the fees for the Farmers’ Market.  He said the city doesn’t waive the fees for other small businesses and shouldn’t for one particular group.  The Board failed to approve the amended schedule of fees and charges for the city.

The attached Schedule of Fees would have established the fees associated with various permits, licenses, and applications that are to be collected by the City.  The fees collected would help to cover all or a portion of the cost incurred by the City with the applicable licenses, permits, and applications.  The Staff was proposing that the Schedule of Fees be amended by adding the following:

Business Licenses:

• Waive business license fees for Farmers Market vendor, which based upon anticipated gross receipts would typically be $25.00.  It is in the interest of the City to encourage the development of a Farmers Market for the City.  This will encourage participation in the market as it grows.  We will still ask that a license application be filled out in order to track who is doing business.

• Create a Catering License fee of $10.00. The City currently does not have a license fee for those wanting to cater in the City limits. The annual license would allow for them to cater within the City for a full year.

• Create a Fireworks License Fee of $75.00. This replaces the use of gross receipts which is typically a full year of sales and puts a onetime only fee on the license.

• Create a Festival/Food Truck License Fee of $10.00.  Currently, the City does not have a fee for Vendors who want to sell at festival and events including food trucks. This would fill that void.

Liquor Licenses:

• Create a Tasting License fee of $90.00 for the consumption of intoxicating liquor by the drink for sampling on City premises. This license binds the licensee to the same rules applicable to holders of other liquor licenses within the City of Raytown and to the liquor laws of the State of Missouri. A special event permit would be required as well.

• Create a Food Truck Temporary Liquor License of $50.00 for liquor sold out of a food truck.  This license binds the licensee to the same rules applicable to holders of other liquor licenses within the City and to the liquor laws of the State of Missouri. A special event permit would be required as well.

• Create a Microbrewery Fee of $5 per 100 barrels up to a maximum of $250 per year.  This establishes a fee that aligns with the State of Missouri’s fee for microbreweries.

Credit Card Payment Fees:

• Credit Card Surcharge Fee: 2.5% of transaction amount.  This fee will be charged to persons using a credit card to make a payment in person at City Hall or over the phone. The percent charged will cover the costs charged to the City by the credit card intermediary that processes the credit card payment.

• On-Line Credit Card Convenience Fee: $3.00.  This is a fee charged to a customer for a credit card payment taken through the City’s website.  The ability for customers to make an on-line payment on the City’s web site is a new feature being provided by the City as part of the City’s new web site. The fee amount charged will help cover costs charged to the City by the credit card intermediary that processes the credit card payment.


• Add per year for the license fee. This will enable the City to offer a two-year license.

Because the resolution for the fee schedules failed, the Board tabled a resolution approving an agreement with ETS Corporation for credit card processing services.  The City’s financial management software, Incode Vx, installed in 2013-14 has the capability of accepting online payments for City transactions.

In order to be able to have these payments load directly into the customer’s account it will be necessary to work with a vendor that partner’s with Incode.  There are two vendors considered preferred partners with Incode but only one vendor, ETS Corporation that has the ability to interface directly into their software.  Staff would like to enter into an agreement with ETS Corporation to handle all City credit card transactions.  Currently, card transactions processed in person create a daily batch that must be reconciled both on the bank statement and individually to each drawer.
By selecting ETS Merchant Services for card processing, all daily transactions both in person and online will load directly into the City financial software.  This will allow balancing by drawer as part of the nightly closing and will create the necessary entry into the financial system to reconcile with the bank deposit.  This will save time and help reduce the potential for errors that have to be tracked down during account reconciliation.  In comparing the ETS Corporation agreement to the City’s current vendor, the primary difference is that the City will need to collect transaction fees directly.  The City’s current credit card processor does not charge the City any direct fees; instead they collect them as a separate transaction directly from the customer.  It is staff’s intention to add these fees and charges to each transaction so that there will not be a negative financial impact to the City.

The Board passed a resolution amending Budget related to Parks and Recreation capital improvements.  During the budget process, the Parks Department determined that it would not be possible to open Super Splash for the upcoming swim season without a significant investment into capital improvements.  It was determined that the Park Fund could not absorb these expenditures in their operating budget and would therefore be forced to close Super Splash.

The Board of Aldermen gave direction to staff to keep Super Splash open for the upcoming year by allocating up to $80,000.00 from the Park Fund unreserved fund balance and to re-appropriate up to $80,000.00 from previously allocated projects in the Capital Sales Tax Fund.  At the time of the Park Budget hearing, staff was not prepared to identify which projects from the Capital Sales Tax Fund would need to be placed on hold in order to accommodate the direction given.  Staff recommended to the Sales Tax Oversight Committee that the Street Light project in an amount of $50,000.00 be cut from this year’s budget and an additional $30,000.00 be allocated from non-appropriated cash balance to make up the $80,000.00 pledged from Capital Sales Tax.  However, the Sales Tax Oversight Committee was not comfortable approving this expenditure as meeting the intent of the Capital Sales Tax until the result of the recently commissioned park study is complete.  Therefore, the Sales Tax Oversight Committee tabled consideration of this item indefinitely with the intent of bringing it back up after the recommendation of the Park study is available.  Without approval of the Sales Tax Oversight Committee, it would not be the recommendation of staff to proceed with Capital Sales Tax funds as a source of funding for this project.  Two other options for funding these projects would be to amend the Park Fund or the General Fund to appropriate up to $80,000.00 of un-allocated cash balance.

The General Fund could transfer to the Park Fund up to $80,000.00 on an as needed basis to complete these projects.  There are sufficient funds available in the General Fund cash balance to complete this one-time request.  Or, the Park Fund budget could be amended to allocate $80,000.00 of unreserved fund balance and $80,000.00 of fund balance reserve for these projects.  The staff recommended the Park Budget be amended to allocate $80,000.00 from the general fund and $80,000.00 of fund balance reserve for Super Splash expenditures.

Alderman Meyers said the Sales Tax Oversight Committee did the Board a favor.  They turned down the funding of $50,000 from the street light project.  He said the direction given to the staff was “find the money, we don’t care where you get it.  That was poor direction."   He said, "Let’s face it, Super Splash doesn’t trump street lights."  Alderman Van Buskirk said the city never passed a resolution to fund Super Splash.  There was only the implication the city would fund it.  The city never allocated any money.  He made a motion the city move $80,000 from the general fund to pay for the repairs at Super Splash.  It is to be a one-time only occurrence.

The Board failed to pass a resolution approving change order no. 1 to the agreement with the City Splashtacular for the waterslide maintenance and repair project at Super Splash USA in the amount of $10,500.  The original bid was to repair the water slide for $99,200.  The Parks and Recreation Department was notified by the slide maintenance contractor of a slide length discrepancy for the Missouri Fury open flume slides.  The bid specifications list the Missouri Fury slide length at 130’ each.  The contractor found the slides are 185’ in length.

The additional 55’ per slide is significant enough to require additional materials and labor.  Field measurements were verified by staff.  Slide maintenance work was completed Thursday, April 23.  The scope of work for the slide repair work includes a visual inspection report, slide joint leak repair, gel coat repair, removal, and replacement of damaged or rusted hardware, buffing and cleaning of slide riding surfaces, and recoating the slide’s exterior.  Alderman Black asked who measured the waterslides.  Kevin Boji said the slide lengths were pulled from bid specs from a couple of years ago.  Alderman Black asked if the contractor ever came out and measured for himself.  The contractor said he made a visual inspection last fall, but didn’t actually measure the slides.  He made his bid based on the specifications given by the city.  He had no reason to believe the city would issue incorrect bid specifications.  Alderman Emerson said the city should pay the extra amount because the bid lengths were specific, not estimates.  Alderman Meyers said the city should not have to pay the extra amount because the contractor did not do the necessary due diligence before placing the bid.

The Board passed a resolution amending the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget related to Capital expenditures in the amount of $33,822.00 from unbudgeted reserves for Capital improvements.  During the budget process, the Public Works Department planned to have carpet installed in the Courts area, the Department of Public Affairs area, and the Administration area in 2014.  During the transition between the past Director, Andy Noll, and the Interim Director, Jim Melvin, the expenditures were not made until after November 1, 2014 for the Courts and DPA areas, and the Administration area has not been done as yet.

The fiscal year 2013-2014 budget did contain the funds for the carpet for Courts and DPA, but the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget did not.  This budget amendment request is to adjust the budget to reflect the appropriate timing of the expenditures, and to allow for re-carpeting the Administration area.  Since the funds from fiscal year 2013-2014 were carried forward as unbudgeted reserves, the funds are available for the Courts and DPA carpeting, and the carpet for the Administration area is available from unbudgeted reserves. The budget simply needs to be amended to reflect the correct year for the Courts and DPA expenditures, and to add funds for the Administration area.

Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
I never really met a dessert I didn’t like, but bread pudding has a special place in my heart. My parents lived in New Orleans for a number of years and let me just say: You’ve never had bread pudding unless you’ve had it in N’awlins.

That said, bread pudding isn’t exactly the healthiest of desserts. With lots of sugar, cream and butter, it’s delicious, no doubt, but also not a dish you probably want to eat on the reg. Which is why this recipe for Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding from Silk caught our hungry eyeballs. Not only does it feature two of the best flavors to ever go together — chocolate and cherry, duh — but also it swaps the butter and cream out for nutmilk or soymilk. We’d been dying to try out Silk’s new Cashewmilk, and this was the perfect recipe to give it a go. (Spoiler: so creamy and delicious — and totally drinkable when you’re not baking with it!) READ MORE

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Anonymous said...

Hey! Thank you guys for telling it like it is at city hall. Your articles were balanced and fair. I wish the two newspapers would take writing lessons from you.

Anonymous said...

$30,000 for carpeting city hall? That's enough money to carpet my yard! Glad to see everyone is taking care of the importatn stuff in Raytown. What's next? Carports for the City administrator and his staff so their cars won't fade in the harsh Raytown sun?!?

Joel said...

I can't believe the parks employees are so lazy they had to pull previous paperwork out of the files instead of getting off their rears and looking at the project. I can't believe they hired a contractor so incompetent that he didn't even fully check out the job he bid. I can't believe the city administrator lets theses people continue to work here. The new Aldermen should go in and clean house. They've already proved they know how to see through the staff's smokes screens. Now is time to make some changes.

Anonymous said...

I hope they catch the people who killed Harry Stone.

Anonymous said...

Mr Walters,

I was wondering if you could provide an information about the indoor gun ranger that is being talked about opening in town.

Is this really in the works and where are they planing to opening?

Will this be one of those fancy ranges like the have in other cities with a bar.

Greg Walters said...

Sorry, but I cannot tell you about a shooting range opening up in Raytown -- because -- I honestly do not know. If anyone has any information about an indoor shooting range, please share it with the the other readers on this page.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Because the state charges a license fee the city feels it should as well?!?

Keep it up City Hall. I know of one business that quit selling on Sunday because of the "special license" required by the City of Raytown just to open up to conduct business on Sunday!

Apparently a business license is not enough.

Well, they got their way. Now they do not receive any sales tax dollars from the business because they determined it was not worth opening up on Sunday with the extra fee the city put on them.

Back home they have a name for bureaucrats that would pass taxes so vile they cause business to shut their doors.

We called them "hogs at the trough".