Sunday, August 23, 2015


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Broken Promise
In 2010 Raytown approved a 1/8 Cent Sales Tax. The Board of Aldermen included in the ballot language a promise to voters that the sales tax would be used specifically for funding the Raytown Parks and Recreation and funding of storm sewer projects.

At a work session of the Board of Aldermen Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black told Board members she has discovered that 100% of the tax dollars has gone to Park Funding. Zero percent has gone to fund storm water projects.

City Administrator Mahesh Sharma has since confirmed Ms. Black’s contention that City Hall has not followed through on the promise made to the voters five years ago.

The 1/8 cent sales tax is reported to generate approximately $325,000 in tax revenue annually.*
 *As reported by Chris Collins of the Raytown Brooking Eagle.

Alderman Black, along with Alderman Mark Moore and Alderman Steve Meyers, have since gone on record in support of a 60/40 split formula of the tax funds for the 2015/2016 budget. Other members of the Board, most notably Jason Greene, Eric Teeman and Janet Emerson have indicated they would be supportive of the compromise as well.

The rest of the Board seems to be more interested in wringing their hands, wondering out loud about the park department’s needs and making vague accusations toward those Board Members who support splitting the tax revenue. Some claimed the city never made any such promise.

A check of the record shows the Board of Aldermen did include the language for a split use of the sale tax revenue. The following language was on the ballot in 2010 when voters approved the sales tax increase.

From the May 4, 2010 Board of Aldermen meeting authorizing the issue to be put on the ballot:


Alderman Aziere, seconded by Alderman Melson made a motion to amend by substitution which would change the term of the sunset from 7 years to 10 years.  The motion was approved by a vote of 10-0-0.

Ayes:  Aldermen Aziere, Melson, Lightfoot, Mock, Par-Due, Van Buskirk, Creamer, Ertz, Hamilton, White

It is interesting to note that Aldermen Jim Aziere, Steve Mock and VanBuskirk were on the Board of Aldermen when the language was put into place. Each of them voted for the split use of the sales tax.

The compromise offered by White, Moore and Meyers is generous. An honest solution would be to dedicate the remaining five years of the sales tax dollars specifically to storm drainage projects. After all, the first five years of tax revenue did go 100% to parks.

Those members of the Board of Aldermen who have spoken in favor of the 60/40 split have got it right. The issue is not complicated. The City made a pact with the voters in 2010. Pass this tax and we will dedicate it towards fixing storm sewer problems.

Giving 100% of the funding to the Park Board made farce of the promise the Board felt so strongly about that they imbedded it into the ballot language.

Simply stated  . . .  keep your promise.


When I am bored and want to amuse myself I can always count on Randy Battagler of the Raytown Times to stir things up with a comment that is so off-base it is laughable.

Last week he did it again when he wrote “The simple fact is that for years we elected aldermen who promised not to raise taxes. They kept their promise, and because of that we fell behind cities like Lee’s Summit.”

Wrong . . . very, very wrong!

The simple fact is we elected aldermen who mortgaged the future of Raytown by giving large TIF’s, CID’s, and tax abatements to corporate America giants like Walmart, HyVee, Aldi’s, House of Pancakes and Sutherland Lumber. Not to mention other tax abatements awarded to small business owners like Sue Frank's State Farm Insurance, Gary Knabe's Hometown Realty, Clark's Appliances, Bennetti's Coffee and  many more (I could continue but my fingers are getting tired from all the typing required to make the list!).

No, Randy, the city is not behind other cities in tax rates. Go shop at any one of the stores mentioned above (HyVee, Walmart, Sutherland, Aldi’s, House of Pancakes, etc.) and you will find our tax rates are right up there with the big boys.

Our problem in Raytown is that the benefit of those increased taxes do not go to pay for the needs of the city. The tax increases go to line the pockets of corporate America.
You are right about one thing. We are definitely paying the piper for the poor judgment of the last administration. The current administration has been slow to start correcting the problems it has inherited. But lately they have been picking up steam.

The misappropriation of sales tax dollars as uncovered by Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black is a good example.

They are working hard to fix the problems. Give them a chance and you may be able to write more upbeat editorials in the future.

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting August 18, 2015

Kristina Peters, Executive Director of the Shepherd Center, went before the Board for a work session to discuss a project for the Green Space. They said they want to develop the land to construct approximately 100 units of affordable senior housing. The development will occur in two phases and will use Low Income Housing Tax Credits and financing from the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

The first phase of the development will have approximately 48 one-bedroom units in a three story building.  The goal of the development is to create an environment that allows elderly tenants to age in place.  The development will also have 6,000 square feet to provide Shepherd’s Center with needed office space.  There will also be a community room for large meetings that will be available for public or neighborhood use.

The second phase of the development will be a three story building with 60 units of affordable housing.  It will also reserve space for future amenities for the tenants at the southern portion of the site.

The development team proposes approximately 1.3 acres of land on the north portion of the site for a future city park.  The park can provide amphitheater space for future events including programming space for the public library.

Alderman Emerson said she was not in favor of just giving away the land at no cost.  She said she wasn’t sure if this was something she wants to see in the green space.

Alderman Van Buskirk said a few years the city was offered $650,000 for the green space.  Now, the Shepherd Center wants the city to give them the property.  There are many places in Raytown where low income housing would be more appropriate.  The residents keep asking for more restaurants in the area.  The restaurant managements are saying the median income in Raytown isn’t high enough to support starting new businesses here.  Low income housing in the downtown area won’t help that situation and at this time, he can’t support this project.

Alderman Aziere said if the city is going to give away the property, it’s only right to make that public knowledge so groups can submit their plans and the Board can choose the best design.  He said he would also want input from the Main Street Association before any decisions are made.

After the work session, Chief Lynch introduced Officer Adam Koepke.  City Clerk, Teresa Henry, administered the oath.

John Stickner came before the board to say his neighbor has trashy property with unlicensed vehicles and high weeds. He said the city codes department won’t help fix the problem.  He has contacted the codes department repeatedly.  His neighbor has been fined and yet the problem continues.  There are mosquitos, flies, possums, and mice in the weeds.  He keeps calling, but nothing is done.  He has been submitting photos to the city since 2007 and wants to know when this is going to be permanently resolved.

Al Maddox told the Board the Katy Trail will run through Raytown.  Raytown will be the only city on the Santa Fe Trail that is part of the Katy trail.  He said the Cave Springs has become a National Historical site.

Chris Meyers told the Board September 5 is the Festival of the Lost Township.  It will be co-hosted with the Three Trails Kiwanis’s Club.  There will be a Beer Fest with brewers from St. Louis, Illinois, and California.

Pat Jackson, Pastor of the Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, said George Goode with the Louisville Cardinals will be holding a free basketball Clinic on Sunday, August 23.  He invited the mayor to come and shoot some hoops.

The Board passed a resolution approving the reappointment of Mike Apprill to the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

The Board passed a resolution approving the reappointment of Dwight Robinson to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Board passed a resolution approving the reappointment of Kevin Wilson to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Board then moved to the discussion of current 1/8 cent Local Parks and Storm water Tax.

Alderman Black said the voters approved a Parks/Storm Water tax.  She proposed Storm Water Control receive 60% of the tax revenue and the Parks Board receive 40%.  She said the Parks Board has been receiving all the money and for the next fiscal year, at least, the Storm Water issues should be addressed.

Alderman Jason Green said the voter initiative should be honored.

Alderman Josh Green said he believes the Board should sit with the Parks Board to discuss the budgeting process and any impact the reduction in tax dollars would create before the Board takes away money.  He also believes there should not be any specific allocation of tax dollars in the new budget.  If there are more storm water issues, he wants the Board to spend the money there.  Conversely, he wants to be able to spend the money on Parks if that is where the most need is.

Alderman Van Buskirk said everyone on the Board understood at the time the renewal was for the parks.  Nothing on the ballot specified at percentage to any department.  If the tax renewal was for storm water control, he would not have supported it at the time.  The Board needs to know how this will impact the Parks Department before making any decision.

Alderman Aziere said one option is to do away with the Parks department maintaining the medians at the gateways.  The Parks department has been maintaining these areas even though they are not park of the park system.

Alderman Teeman said in 2003 the voters passed the Parks tax.  In 2010, when the tax came up for renewal, Alderman Aziere added storm water control to the renewal.  He said he doesn’t want to cut the Parks budget, but it’s obvious the Board at the time intended the money to go to storm water control.

Alderman Meyers said when the city modified the tax renewal to say storm water control, the voters assumed the money would be spent for storm water control.  That’s what the city needs to do.  He will support the 60/40 split.

Alderman Emerson said if the voters approve something, that’s the way it should be.  She pointed out the Park Board spent $50,000 on a study conducted by a group out of Minnesota or Wisconsin.  There are companies right here in the area that can do the study.  Here’s no reason to go out of town to have it done.

Alderman Jason Greene said he agreed with Aldermen Teeman and Black.  It’s not right to tell voters the city will spend money one way and not do it.  It’s unethical.  The city needs to do what it says it will do.

Alderman Van Buskirk said he is upset by the suggestion that the city government is unethical and trying to deceive people.  That’s just plain wrong.

Alderman Josh Greene said the Board should have Kevin Boji give an impact statement on the Park budget.

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Anonymous said...

I really like the new board, it seems you have a couple up there though that still don't get it.

Anonymous said...

"The simple fact is that for years we elected governors who promised an end to the slave trade. They kept their promise, and because of that we fell behind colonies like Virginia." - Derp Battagler

Andy Whiteman said...

The taxpayers were ripped off again! There should be a claw back from the Parks Dept. but they probably have already spent their ill gotten gains! This should become a personnel matter and discipline the staff employee who misdirected the funds!

This tax should have been 2 ballot issues with 1/16 Cent directed to parks and 1/16 Cent directed to storm sewer projects. That would give the people a choice to vote for or against parks as well as for or against storm sewer funding. I would have voted for storm sewers and against parks. As it was written, I voted NO on the entire ballot issue. That way the funds would be properly directed. ALL FUTURE ballot issues should be written separately and not comingled. In other words, keep it simple!

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I suggest the new board authorize a state audit of the city finances. New government should start with a clean slate and at least know where else Raytown funds have been misappropriated. and if all applicable fees have been collected. Example utilities companies and Google fiber tearing up the streets. A repair fee is assessed each time they cut open the street. Was it always collected??? I bet not.

BOA needs to assign task to city staff to market the green space. Change the zoning back to mix used. (YES the zoning was changed in favor of the Walmart development and currently sits on the books as a large box store development). So even if the latest development proposal was accepted the zoning for this area would have to be changed.

BOA please correct the major mistake of the previous BOA. and put a
zoning back to mix used and place a for sale sign on the property.
Some thing to show marketing of the area.


Anonymous said...

Alderman Van Buskirk just doesn't get it. The board has changed for the better and he's still stuck with the" old David Bower way of thinking". Maybe the voters will retire the old holdovers on the board next April and replace them with new, fresh face as they did this last April.

Barbara said...

A couple of years ago, Elisa Breitenbach circulated a petition requesting the State conduct an audit of Raytown. Mahesh Sharma addressed the Board of Aldermen and assured them Raytown's financials were right and proper. Each year, an accounting firm reviews Raytown's record keeping and claims it is all correct.

In light of Karen Black's revelation, we now know Mehesh Sharma and the accountants are WRONG. Ms. Breitenbach was obviously correct. If the storm water/parks department tax dollars are not being spent correctly, what else is not being spent correctly?

Perhaps now is the time for Greg Walters and Elisa Breitenbach to join forces and get Nicole Galloway in here to find out. Maybe a couple of the new aldermen can help.

Janet said...

All Van Buskirk care about is making other people as righteous as he thinks he is.

Anonymous said...

Van Buskirk lives in his own world, or should I say
the world of Bower cloneship.
We the taxpayers remember the so called “Safety Tax” and
the “Street Overlay tax” that we were deceived by the last
We were promised the “Safety Tax” would go
to employ more police and equipment, and none would
go into the general fund. Well Mr. VanBuskirk we were
deceived! How’s that “Street Overlay tax” doing?
Another deception from the last administration that
Aziere and VanBuskirk were part of.
Sorry, but I don’t believe a word that Aziere or VanBuskirk

Andy Whiteman said...

When the City pays a CPA firm to conduct an audit, does anyone expect a proper, unbiased audit? I sat at meetings watching close to an hour of slide shows and dialog which really made no sense. I am somewhat educated and the whole thing seemed like a cover-up so it could stated that there was a "yearly audit!" In my mind I questioned the validity of said "audit."

Andy Whiteman

Joel said...

Yeah, but Andy, you see a conspiracy around every corner. The audit presentation was not all that difficult to understand. It was, after all, in plain English.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story guys. It is refreshing to have someone tell ALL of a story. Your report on the broken promise says it loud and clear!

Anonymous said...

Sad day for Raytown Tom Cole is leaving. He will be a hard guy to replace. He has done a lot for this city. Thank You Tom

Anonymous said...

That is a very good comment about the audit. I am sure it was English. The BIG difference is the people who are supposed to reading the audit. The old BOA just sat there and did nothing. This new crew is making noise right now. But I get the feeling they will follow it up with action. If they do not give very clear and concise directions to city staff then we will have the same situation as with the old BOA.

I am betting they will be proactive and lead.

Anonymous said...

Wish I knew where Mr Stickner's nieghborhood is but could not find it in the county records. If you had complained since 2007 about weeds mice and such that would be sad

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:53 I think you are right. Some of the old board used to ask questions, but if they asked too many, Bully Bower would shut them down. They were told how to vote before the meeting and they were expected to tow the line. Remember the time one of the aldermen did something Bower didn't like. He got mad and tried to embarrass them. If that didn't work, he just shut them down and went on to the next subject. Remember when Janet Emerson wanted to start the Farmers' Market? When Bower wouldn't let her report on it during the committee reports, she tried to make her report as a private citizen with the public comments. Bower wouldn't let her talk. Said people can only talk about things the Board wants to control and that isn't one of them.

This Board won't be silenced. Look at Karen Black. She kept at it until she uncovered the truth. Can you see Van Buskirk doing that? I didn't think so. He's floundering right now., There's no one to tell him what to do.

This Board is getting stronger every day. Before long, they will start to govern the city the way they were meant to. I have faith in them.

Anonymous said...

What was really sad about the Bower days and situations like you described about Alderman Emerson not being allowed to talk by the Mayor was the silent approval by the others on the BOA. I bet that if a couple of Aldermen would have said, now wait a minute Mr. Mayor. We are aall elected officails and we all have the right to speak, he would have have changed his mind. Had he chosen to argue with the Board members about it the fallout to him socially and personally would have been more than he could bare.

As it was, the Board sat quietly and watched a bully at work.

I think those are the two major differences between this adminstration and the previous one. This administration has new Board members who will be heard. They are not the type who sit back and let an injustice go unanswered.

The other difference is Mayor McDonough. He is showing that he will let everyone have their say. He does not try to influence or control the debate. But does a good job of letting everyone throw in their two cents worth.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:24

Yes - they were a spineless group. I think that's why the ones up for re-election were either defeated, or decided they had had enough of the nonsense and didn't run again. So - good bye and good riddance. The rest can go in two years.

Anonymous said...

It looks like new rules have been set for how long you can talk during public comment. Coach Maddox got to speak for nine minutes.

Anonymous said...

I visited my mother in law last weekend at Hidden Lakes Retirement here in Raytown and noticed large open areas around the fitness center and below the pond. Perhaps Hidden Lakes could work with the Shepard Center to develop senior housing in that area.

Peggy Sue said...

I noticed that. I also noticed the Mayor and the Board interacted with some of the people who spoke to the Board. It is refreshing to see the residents treated with respect again.

Anonymous said...

I believe Hidden Lakes is just like Elliot's place an enity of its own and more upper scale pricing. I know one has assisted care units and one does not. Not sure if Shepard center is planning on assisted living or low income effience apartments. Surely Raytown is aging. We also have Bickford place. I know it does help if the elderly can stay in the same town they have raised a family in and supported the community for what seems forever. One plus is Raytown has many ranch style homes

Anonymous said...

A well respected civic leader and he spoke for about 5 minutes
The rest was good natured banter between he and some Aldermen
Get a life !!

Anonymous said...

Alle Maddox does not even live in Raytown! I cannot think of anything more painful that having to listen to his banter for five minutes.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how many Kansas City addresses are in the Raytown School district. And how those Taxes are all broke up. With me it's simple; I live in Raytown, own property in Raytown and work in Raytown.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Alle (sic) Maddox does not even live in Raytown! I cannot think of anything more painful that having to listen to his banter for five minutes.

I know what's more painful - seeing Bob Phillip's blatherings in the paper!

Peter said...

What a great time for the Raytown community than at the Arts and Music Fest !! What a great group of people . Raytowners near and far come home to enjoy the eveing.