Sunday, September 20, 2015


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As I See It . . .
An uncooperative Park Board, uncalled for emotional outbursts from an elected official, veiled threats implying a lack of cooperation from an appointed department head, and foot dragging by some members of the Board on business that should already be finished . . . put them all together and you have a fine mess.

But it is a mess that can be resolved.

First you have to understand the issue. It is very simple. In 2010 the City of Raytown asked the voters to approve a 1/8 cent sales tax. In the language on the ballot it was clearly stated the sales tax would be used “FOR THE PURPOSE OF FUNDING LOCAL PARKS / STORM WATER CONTROL.”

How the split was to be divided was not determined, but it was very clear the sales tax dollars would be used for the stated purposes. A couple of months ago Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black brought it to the Board’s attention that the mandate, created by the Board in 2010 was not being followed.

Nearly eight hours of meetings and discussion has since ensued. They are still on square one. It is quite clear a majority of the Board wants to resolve the issue and move forward. It is equally clear they are allowing a small minority to stand in their way.

On that point, the majority of the Board is dropping the ball. Make a motion, cast your votes. It is not only your right, it is your responsibility to do so.

The following arguments were heard at the last meeting.

PARK BOARD: Members of the Board of Aldermen have asked the Park Board to suggest a number they can live with on the split of funds from the 1/8 cent sales tax. Park Board President George Mitchell repeatedly said he wants to cooperate with the Board of Aldermen. He has also refused to provide a suggestion on how to split the income between Parks and Storm Sewer Projects. For those on the BOA who do not understand what is really being said, here is a translation. They want to keep all of the money, just as they have for the past five years.

BOARD OF ALDERMEN: The reality is the Park Board is not going to cooperate. They are going to stall and hope the problem will go away. The Board should accept this reality and set the numbers as they see fit. It is their responsibility to keep the intent, clearly stated in the ballot language, to split the money raised from the 1/8 cent sales tax.

PARK BOARD (2):  Mark Loughry, Raytown’s Finance Director, said the Park Board is using the balance on their bank statement to determine their financial condition. The Park Board’s methodology is not accurate. Here is how they should read their financial statement:
The Park Board knows approximately how much money they will receive from sales tax revenue. When the Board of Aldermen approve an expenditure on behalf of the Park Board, a requisition order is issued. That amount is deducted from the Park Board fund balance and the money is put on reserve.  The checking account balance is meaningless. It may take several months for the checks to be written after the Board of Aldermen gives approval.

Apparently some members of the Park Board are not aware of the information provided by the city’s Finance Director. They do, however, have a Park Board Director who is well paid to help guide them in management of the Park Department. One of his duties should be to keep the Park Board appraised of their financial condition. Someone is dropping the ball.
It is an internal matter for the Park Board to resolve.

ALDERMAN AZIERE: Alderman Jim Aziere had a meltdown of sorts at the last meeting in which he slandered his fellow Aldermen by saying they did not have the experience to handle Park Board finances.

Like it or not, Mr. Aziere should accept that the Board of Aldermen, through a Memorandum of Understanding, pushed through by then Mayor David Bower in 2013, pretty much gave the authority to the Board of Aldermen to oversee the Park Board budget. By the way, the Board of Aldermen approved that Memorandum of Understanding, including Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere who voted "yes" in a unanimous approval of the Memorandum of Understanding.
Aziere’s comments only served to isolate himself from the rest of the Board.

His words were uncalled for and out of order.

ALDERMEN AZIERE , VanBUSKIRK and MOCK were all on the Board in 2010 when Aziere made a motion to include the Park Board / Storm Sewer designation on the ballot. All three of them voted YES in 2010. They should honor that promise to the voters in 2015.

CITY ADMINISTRATOR MAHESH SHARMA: At last Tuesday’s meeting City Administrator Mahesh Sharma said his budget for next year is completed and “it would be difficult at this point to make major changes.”

Balderdash! The fiscal year does not end until October 31, 2015. That means he has six weeks to make any changes to the city budget. The City Administrator should step down off of his high horse and do as he is directed by the elected city officials. Anything less could be considered insubordinate and a dereliction of duty.

The Board of Aldermen is scheduled to meet again on September 22nd and again on October 6th and October 20th.  There is more than enough time for them to resolve this issue.

It makes me angry enough to spit!
Elected official make a promise. They even put in writing on the ballot. Then, once they pass the tax, they start explaining what they really meant!

Case in point  . . .  the dust-up over the 1/8 cents sales tax at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Not all, but enough of our Aldermen are trying to crawdad away from a promise they made us in 2010 to use some of the eighth cent sales tax on storm sewer problems to cause concern.

These so-called representatives of the people do not believe their constituents when they are asked to help with storm water drainage problems that flood basements, erode property and cause unnecessary hardships on the people they represent.

Read my report this week. I think you will agree some have lost the vision of why they ran for office.

Want to sound off about this? Visit the blog portion of the Raytown Report. Or, contact your Alderman. Use the following link for their telephone numbers and email addresses.

Or, better yet, attend one of the upcoming meetings of the Board of Aldermen. Meetings are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. at Raytown City Hall.

TUESDAY:    September 22, 2015
TUESDAY:    October 6, 2015
TUESDAY:    October 20, 2015

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – Sept. 15, 2015 

Mayor McDonough said motor vehicle crashes are a major cause of death and disabling injury for America’s children.  It’s hard to overstate the toll of these injuries and deaths have on families.  Protecting them is the responsibility of all community members but we can help put an end to this tragedy. 

Today, all Fifty States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories require the use of car seats for children traveling in motor vehicles. These laws were enacted because they save lives and prevent injuries. Research shows car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by seventy-one percent for children younger than the age of one and by fifty-four percent for children ages one to four years. We know that car seats help save lives and reduce injuries. We also know they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Continuing forward, we must work together to prevent these deaths and injuries. 

The City of Raytown, through our Emergency Medical Services Department, is committed to working closely with our partners and safety advocates to help guide our community to make the kind of choices that will keep our children alive and safe. Our goal is to educate parents and caregivers about best practices when traveling with children from birth through age twelve. During Child Passenger Safety Week, car seat safety events will be held across the country. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to take advantage of these services to make sure that their children are in the right car seat for their age and size and the seats are installed properly.  He proclaimed, September 13 – 19, 2015 as Child Passenger Safety Week.  He encouraged everyone to help reduce injuries and tragic loss of life by buckling up themselves and their children – every trip, every time. Spread the word to family and friends, so together, we can keep our children safe. 

Mayor McDonough said the Raytown Fire Department was part of the “Stair Climb” to commemorate 9/11.  Chief Matt Mace, Conner Wales, Darren Summers, Nathan Davis, and Doug Funk climbed 110 stories. 

The Board passed a resolution approving the appointment of Assistant Public Works Director Kati Horner Gonzalez as a City Representative on the Ditzler Community Improvement District Board of Directors. 

The Board passed a resolution approving the expenditure of funds to The Wilson Group related to renovations at the Public Works Building located at 10014 E. 65th Street in an amount not to exceed $42,237.01  The Public Works Department is seeking approval for remodel of the Charlie Brown Building Repair Project contracts are for painting ($4,687.06), window replacement ($29,665.93), and restroom remodel ($7,884.02). The Charlie Brown Building is the name of a Public Works building located at 10014 E. 65th Street. 

The Board passed a resolution approving the expenditure of additional funds through change order no. 1 with the Wilson group, Inc. as related to the lower level city hall renovations in an amount not to exceed $32,319.53 for a total amount not to exceed $430,485.77.

 Jim Melvin said initial plans for remodel of the lower level of City Hall did not indicate any areas with wallpaper to be painted. Once the Police Department personnel and equipment were removed from the remodel area it became apparent that nearly every wall that was to be painted had existing wallpaper. In addition, staff had evaluated the need for LED lights at some point. The overall budget had four alternates. Each alternate was to replace one unit of the HVAC system. The designer did not feel that prices would allow the LED lights and the alternates. Actual pricing for the HVAC units did not allow any alternates, but would allow sufficient funds for the LED and some contingency. Since there is wallpaper on all of the walls, it must be either wallpapered again, or prepared and painted. If LED lights are not installed now, the City will pay for installing T8 fixtures now and will request conversion to LED fixtures within the next five years. The LED fixtures will pay for the added installation costs in approximately five years. The LED fixtures will last ten years.

The 2014-2015 Capital Sales Tax fund has $800,000.00 included for remodel of the Lower Level of City Hall. The initial contract was for $398,000.00 and the proposal from The Wilson Group, Inc. for the wall prep and painting, plus the LED fixture upgrade is $32,310.53. Lease costs were approved by the Board for $21,000.00 and moving costs were estimated at $5,689.00 for each leg of the move $11,378.  Some additional change orders may occur, as the plumbing has not all be located as yet.

The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 44, Utilities; section 44-154, service charges, of the Code of Ordinances.  Mark Loughry told the Board the City contracted with Carl Brown Consulting to perform a sewer rate analysis study to ensure the rates we are charging our customers is fair and sufficient. That study demonstrated a need for an annual increase in rates of 4% per year. Over the past four years the City has been able to avoid this increase via cost saving measures implemented by staff.  Due to rising costs in treatment, maintenance, and operations, staff is recommending the base rate increase from $12.28 to 12.78 per month.
The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance granting a Conditional use permit subject to certain conditions to allow a salt storage facility on property located at 6206 Raytown Road.  Ms. Patricia Moore is seeking approval of a Conditional Use Permit application to allow the outside storage of salt on property located at 6206 Raytown Road, which is located on the northwest corner of Raytown Road and 62nd Street in the Raytown Central Business District. 

Alderman Janet Emerson said something needs to be done.  Children who come with their parents to the Farmers’ Market play on the concrete blocks.  She said someone’s going to get hurt.  Ms. Moore was unable to attend the last Planning and Zoning meeting due to a family emergency, so the Planning & Zoning Commission by a vote of 6 in favor and 0 against recommends denial of the Conditional Use Permit application.

Alderman Bill Van Buskirk said Ms. Moore was unable to attend the Planning and Zoning meeting due to a family emergency.  He believes if she went back to them, she could answer their questions.     After some discussion, Alderman Van Buskirk moved to refer the item back to the Planning and Zoning Board for further review on October 1.The subject property is zoned Neighborhood Commercial. The applicant leases the property from Harry & Dorothy Harding.  The storage of the salt would be located on the west side of the property, which is to the rear of the building on the property. The applicant installed the salt storage area at the end of last winter without realizing that it is not a permitted use in the Neighborhood Commercial District. Staff notified the applicant that the storage of salt is not a permitted use and that it must be either removed or a Conditional Use Permit obtained. Because it was near the end of the winter and the applicant indicated that the salt would be removed, staff granted the applicant an extension. The applicant has now submitted a Conditional Use Permit application seeking to continue the storage of salt at this location.

Mayor McDonough opened the floor for a discussion on the 1/8 cent sales tax for Park Board/Storm Water. 

Alderman Karen Black said at the September 10 Park Board meeting, they were asked to decide how much the Park Board could afford to give up to the Storm Water projects.  George Mitchell, Park Board President, said they are waiting for the Board of Aldermen to decide. 

Alderman Josh Greene said there is too much confusion surrounding the amount of tax dollars the Park Board has to spend.  The amount presented to the Board of Aldermen from the Park Board and the amounts presented from last year’s budget are two completely different numbers.  The fact the Board of Aldermen doesn’t know the exact amount is scary.  It’s difficult to know the negative ramifications of pulling tax dollars from the Park Board budget.  He suggested the Mayor form a committee to decide the ramifications of taking money from both the Park Board and the Sewer Storm Water.

Alderman Mark Moore said Super Splash eats up most, if not all, of the 1/8 cent sales tax amount.  Super Splash has lost approximately $1,600,000 on pool operations since 2007.  Super Splash needs to closed and that money should be spent on Storm Water Sewe problems.

 Alderman Eric Teeman said it’s hard to make decisions when they don’t have all the necessary information.  The aquatic study isn’t in yet and it’s long overdue.  The Board of Aldermen and the Park Board don’t have consistent numbers.  He asked how the Board is expected to make a decision without knowing how much they have to spend.  The Park Board has not given the Board of Aldermen a list of upcoming projects. 

Alderman Jim Aziere said one and a half years ago, the Park Board hired, fired and took care of the budget.  Super Splash attendance was 26,000 in 2015.  He said no one asked how much was being spent at the BMX track.  He said the Board needs to take the time to figure out what they’re doing before they start cutting the budget or closing Super Splash.  If the Board of Aldermen wants to run the Park Board, they need to know and understand each individual park, and the total budget, especially if they want to take a significant chunk of money from the budget.  The Board of Alderman is not qualified to run the Park Board.

Alderman Steve Mock said there have been some Sewer Storm Water projects.  He pointed to the repairs made at Ong Lake. 

Alderman Steve Meyers said the fact still remains the residents of Raytown voted to renew the 1/8 cent sales tax for both the Parks and Sewer Storm Water.  He said Kevin Boji never said to close any parks, just forego curbs and medians.  The Board of Aldermen has asked the Park Board several times for suggestions of projects in the Park Board budget to forego.  So far, that list has not been provided.  He said he is committed to putting money to Storm Sewer maintenance.  Since the Park Board won’t cooperate, he made a motion to take $100,000 out of the Park Board budget, and put it to Sewer Storm Water.  The motion was seconded by Alderman Emerson.

Alderman Van Buskirk said they couldn’t make a motion because it was a discussion session only.

Mayor McDonough ruled they needed to wait until the end of the discussion session.

Alderman Mark Moore asked why the discussion had been going on for so long.  He said not once did the Park Board bring anything to the table to help the Board of Aldermen make decisions.  The Board of Alderman asked the Park Board what they need and the answer is always, “I don’t know.” 

Alderman Bill VanBuskirk said the Board needed to look at the history of the Park tax.  Prior to 2003, the city gave the Park Board $250,000 a year to pay for the parks.  In 2003, the voters passed the 1/8 cent sales tax.  In 2010, the wording was changed on the ballot and the park tax was renewed.  He said everyone in Raytown – the voters, the Board of Aldermen and the Park Board all understood this was strictly a Park Board renewal.  The wording was such that the Board of Aldermen could use the money for Storm Sewer maintenance if they choose, but it wasn’t mandatory.  It was supposed to be a Board of Aldermen decision only.  A lot of people who said when they voted for the Park Board/Storm Sewer tax in 2010 and thought some of the money was going to Sewer Storm Water, in actuality never voted at all.  They’re just saying that now in hindsight.  He said until the Super Splash study is completed, the Board won’t know what decision to make.  Besides, that is a decision for the Park Board, not the Board of Aldermen. 

Alderman Jim Aziere asked Mahesh Sharma how much money had been spent on Storm Sewer maintenance in the past eight years.  Mr. Sharma said it was $610,000.  Alderman Aziere said this isn’t about spending money on Sewer Storm Water.  It’s about spending Park Board money on Sewer Storm Water.  Many on the Board of Alderman want to close Super Splash and spend that money on Storm Water runoff maintenance. 

Alderman Jason Greene said he thinks there is a list, but it is not prioritized.  He said the Board should direct the staff to prioritize the list and submit it to the Board of Alderman. 

Alderman Jim Aziere said Sewer Storm Water is important, everyone agrees on that.  There are alternatives other than taking Park Board money.  He said if he were to walk down the street and ask the voters they would say they care about sidewalks, street lights, and street overlay.  He said he doesn’t think very many people care about Storm Water maintenance. 

Alderman Karen Black said she had hoped the Park Board would have come to the Board of Aldermen with suggestions, but they have chosen not to do that. 

Alderman Steve Meyers withdrew his motion. He said the Board of Aldermen must now give direction to the Park Board and the city staff.  They will continue the discussion next week at the budget meeting.

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Anonymous said...

I am a Buyer for Facilities Maint and I just purchased $60,000.00 worth of LED light bulbs for our 15 story building. They now make LED "drop in" bulbs for T-8 fixtures. You don't have to change the ballasts or re-wire the fixture. Also KCPL will give a nice rebate on installing LED bulbs if you submit the style of LED you are going to use and it has to match KCPL criteria on there list to qualify. We will get a rebate around $25,000.00. Raytown could also up grade most of all their street lights with the LED bulbs and get a rebate also and save electricity. We also did that to our large parking light poles and flag poles.

Robbie Tubbs said...

Mr. Van Buskirk,

You are wrong when you said everyone, the Board of Aldermen, the Park Board, and especially the voters all thought the money was going exclusively to the Park Board. When I voted for the Park Fund/Sewer Maintenance tax renewal in 2010, I believed the ballot. I thought I was voting for both. If I had known the Board of Aldermen were planning a bait and switch, I would have voted no. I would have worked very hard to let my neighbors know of the Board's intended deceit. You are free to check my record because I DID vote in that election.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the Parks Board has already had more than their
fair share of our tax dollars. It’s payback time for the taxpayers.
If the board can’t play nice then get rid of the board, at least those
who choose not to do right by the taxpayers.
Jim Aziere showed his true colors. Why do people trust this man?
He is why the saying “Give then an inch and they want a yard” came

Anonymous said...

This is not the first time Jim Aziere has said something dumb, a racial slur, or told voters or aldermen they where dumb, or out right lied. Yet he KEEPS GETTING BACK IN OFFICE. He is and has been for years an embarrassment to the resident's of Raytown!

Anonymous said...

I question why there wasn't 2 ballot issues of 1/16¢ for parks and 1/16¢ for storm sewers? I believe is the KISS system. If everything had been kept separate, this issue would NEVER have happened wasting everyone's time!

Andy Whiteman

Rhonda said...

According to the City's website, the Park Board hasn't had a meeting since June 15. The agenda says there was supposed to be a meeting on July 15. It's not posted on any website. Is this what they mean by "the new open government"?

Anonymous said...

This issue was on the ballot, it would only be honest to provide some money from that tax to storm water. Alderman Aziere is a complete embarrassment and has been for sometime. Why is the Mayor not keeping order when that clown goes off on his remarks?

Anonymous said...

12:53 PM, Why don't you ask the Mayor? It may be a free speech issue. When I voted of the Parks/Storm water issue, it was a difficult decision because it was a combined issue. Normally I vote NO on any tax increase. This was one that I vote YES on because there was a storm water drain problem in one area at the time. Five years later, I found that everyone was cheated. I want a refund!

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

You are so right Robbie. When they put the language on the ballot that said there was a split on the tax I thought "finally, the BOA has figured out a way to makes sure their intentions are followed. Little did I know they were so insincere that some of them are now saying they really did not mean it. Mr. Aziere, I will NEVER vote for you again (yes, I live in your ward). Mr. Van Buskirk, i don't live in your ward but I know people who do. You can bet your bottom dollar I will be talking to them the next time you run.

Anonymous said...

Why is Bob Phillips still writing about Raytown issues he knows nothing about?

Anonymous said...

So the BOA had an extra meeting in September.

It was a Tentative Budget Hearing. I have not fully read the document on the web link - but I did notice they are wanting $20k for a digital sign in front of city hall. and $40k to purchase copiers/printers. I hope the BOA READS this document completely before they vote on it. I can see waste of tax payer money.


Anonymous said...

September 29 - BOA meeting

Continuation of September 22, 2015 Budget Hearing
regarding Transportation Sales Tax Projects –
Jim Melvin, Interim Public Works Director

Everyone should review the projects that will be altered by this process.