Sunday, December 27, 2015


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NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: It may sound corny, but why not resolve to do something nice for someone every day?

Committee on Sales 
Tax Making Headway
The special committee on the Storm Water / Park Sales Tax held its third meeting last Tuesday. The meeting was held specifically to receive public feedback on the fate of the division of revenue from a sales tax approved by voters in 2010.

About 20 people were on hand to give and hear testimony at the meeting which lasted one and one-half hours.

Nearly all those who took the podium expressed a desire for the city to honor the ballot language of the tax which specifically called for a division of the revenue between storm water repair and park needs.

Another topic that frequently came up by those addressing the Committee had to do with the fate of city’s water park, Super Splash, USA.  Many speakers suggested the park department shut down the water park which has run a six-figure deficit in operating costs for many years.

Committee Chairman Ralph Monaco and a number of the committee members responded they appreciated the testimony on the water park, but their main focus was how to split the tax revenue between storm water and park needs.

Monaco closed the meeting by stating a compromise was needed to resolve the Committee’s work. He went on to say the Committee’s work will now be focused on the percentage of a split for the tax revenue.

The next meeting was set for January 12th at 6:30 p.m. at Raytown City Hall.

Paul’s Rant
Greg’s report on the Storm Water / Park Sales Tax Committee pretty much sums up the progress made in a relatively short time by the committee. It appears the committee may wind up its work at its next meeting.

I am pleased it is coming to a conclusion.  The final decision may not satisfy either side of the issue completely, but at least this will bring it to a close.

So far the sales tax has gone 100% towards park funds for the first five years of its existence. The Board of Aldermen has allowed the status quo of 100% of the revenue to flow to the park department in the 2016 budget year. So in reality, the park board had captured more than half of the funds the tax will create in its ten year life span. The tax has a sunset clause that ends its existence in 2020.

From my point of view it is time to reverse where the tax revenue flows in the future. As a recent study of storm sewer needs by the city has pointed out, there are plenty of areas where flooding in Raytown during heavy rains should be addressed.

The Committee should recommend the remaining years of the tax be devoted entirely towards storm sewer needs. In doing so, the City would be keeping its word with the voters of Raytown.

The Park Board has received six of the ten years worth of revenue. It is time the City kept the promise it made in the 2010 ballot language which led voters to believe storm water problems would be addressed if the tax passed.

It would also show the public that this Board of Aldermen is sincere in treating the public in a fair and honest manner.  The good will it would create is a plus the city could use after eight years of the previous administration’s mishandling of the city’s business.

Another Park Sales 
Tax on the Horizon? By Greg Walters and Paul Livius
ETC INSTITUTE/LEISURE VISION is a commercial firm that specializes in selling tax increases for local governments. As they state on their website “The firm has extensive experience conducting surveys as components of plans leading to successful voter elections.

ETC has been contracted by the Park Department to evaluate park programs and to make recommendations for the future of the park department.

So it comes as no surprise that their spin machine was working overtime last week when they rolled out the results of a survey mailed to select Raytowners.

ETC reported 486 “completed” surveys were returned. But the numbers do not support the claim.

One crucial question regarding Super Splash asked respondents to choose two options they would support regarding Super Splash.

If two answers were required, the total “completed” surveys should have had 972 responses. At least half of those filling out the survey failed to respond properly. The incomplete surveys make the results meaningless.  Of the 486 “completed” surveys, only 580 responses were recorded.

The two response requirement would also skew any statistical results away from a solution calling for the closure of the failing water park. Despite the that hurdle, nearly 25% of the respondents chose to mark “Close Super Splash” as one of their answer.

The Real Reason for the Survey
Anyone interested in the real reason for the survey should take a long hard look at the data provided on pages 370 through 471 of the report from ETC Institute/Leisure Vision. Those pages are a summary of voter indications of for all previous questions in the survey.

It may be why the Survey was constructed in such a way that if person mailed it in, the mailer was known to ETC Institute. As explained in the Executive Summary Report on page 2 . . .

The survey was mailed to a random sample of 3,250 households in the City of Raytown. An option to complete the survey online was also available to residents who had that preference. Once the surveys were mailed, resident households who received the survey were contacted by phone. Those who indicated that they had not returned the survey by mail were given the option of completing it by phone.

The information gathered in the survey can come in pretty handy when creating target lists of possible voters in a sales tax election for Parks and Recreation.

If you are wondering why $50,000 of the taxpayers money was spent for this survey, now you know!

There is more . . . the second part of the ETC Contract, which has not been enacted at this point, has been budgeted by Park Board at a cost of another $40,000. Final approval of the contract requires approval of the Raytown Board of Aldermen before it can go forward.

View the survey results . . . PARK SURVEY

Thinking Outside the Box
City and Park officials have been struggling for over five years to find a way to make Super Splash a viable operation.

Despite their best efforts, nothing seems to bring more bodies to Super Splash. They have tried private management. It did not work. They have tried re-vamping management from inside the Park Department. It did not work.

In the 1980’s Raytown had many young families with many children who made Super Splash a success story.

The increased competition from other water park operations and the loss of a young population base to make use of the facility has dealt the Park Board a one-two punch they have not been able to overcome. 

Add to that an aging facility in need of major repairs, and you have created a public version of a money pit.

The Raytown School District recently opened the doors of the old YMCA facility to senior citizens. Why not create a partnership between the Park Department with the School Board to expand the use of the old YMCA? It could be open year round and serve more of the public.

The city and park board should quit throwing good money after bad. Shutter the Super Splash operation. Sell the property and put the money to work developing something that makes sense for all of Raytown.

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Anonymous said...

I have felt for many years that Super Splash should be closed due to its being a drain of tax dollars. But for those reluctant to close it, I suggest it be re-purposed to provide programs that are of interest to adults and seniors. I have no idea what those activities may be since I have no interest in swimming, but I am sure others may come up with ideas. Maybe something similar to The YMCA with hours for certain types of swimming as well as hours for open swim. There are also therapeutic activities for those with motion issues, etc.

Is it possible to convert it to a city pool(s) without the "Splash?"

If Super Splash is ever to be viable, it needs to be of interest to current residents. It is entirely possible that current residents will have no interest in these activities in which case it should be closed.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Get rid of SuperSplash. It is no longer a safe, city friendly waterpark.
Raytown is not the same community as it once was, even a few years ago. Too much meaness and out of control individuals who have no respect for rules, the police or for anyone (i.e. The Plaza, Bannister Mall, Blue Ridge Mall and now Independence Center Mall). The demographies in this area is pretty easy to see and will continue nonstop in that (downward) direction. Raytown is slowly becoming an inner city community.

Close SuperSpash before a shooting occurs there, which will costs the city millions in lawsuits. Invest the savings into more police presences, code enforcemnent and tax savings for the citizens. Of course this is only delaying the pending demise of a great community that once was Raytown.

Anonymous said...

Raytown's Motto: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It

Michael said...

Anonymous 12:39 - I don't think we will see a shooting at Super Splash. Raytown is not "becoming an inner city community." We are becoming more racially diverse, however. The inner city has little diversity since it is mostly economically disadvantaged people. Raytown is a middle-class community that attracts all kinds of people looking for affordable housing, good location, and decent schools.

The survival of our community relies on the ability to accommodate and celebrate changing demographics. Instead of predicting its demise, lets celebrate the continued diversification of our community.

Nonetheless, yes, Super Splash should close. There are a million other projects the money could support that would provide more opportunity to advance Raytown.

Anonymous said...

12:39 Dec 28th, You are spot on we can use the money for more important areas such as paying for the Wal=Mart location, street lights and maybe even improve our streets. And yes the splash is not totally safe.

I notice that our mayor signed the letter for the survey that cost us $50,000 and they would like to spend another $40,000 this is obscene. Does our new mayor like to spend our money this easily?

Anonymous said...

The YMCA will be open to the Raytown property owners who pay school tax in January at a monthly fee. That will include family memberships.

Anonymous said...

Your info is wrong. The new Mayor signed asking people to respond to the survey. The money has already been slated for the survey before the new board came on. Get your facts straight

Anonymous said...

The Raytown School District recently opened the old YMCA doors to Senior Citizens. That statement is wrong.
The Raytown School District opened the YMCA a couple of months ago to the Raytown School District Employees and their Families ( children 18 and under)

Anonymous said...

Some facts are irrefutable. Our school district gets 3 of 10 stars on GreatSchools.Org, the median HOUSEHOLD income is a mere $48k and average home values are below $100k. Those who continue to believe all is rosey are a bit disillusioned. Those are the figures realtors share and prospective residents seek when deciding where to live. It really doesn't matter what we used to be...the reality is what we are today.

Anonymous said...

Raytown is inner city! Just 3 more points and the Raytown School District will be un credited. All you see is "Diverse People" walking all over Raytown with their pants half down. Over 450 arrests at Walmart on 350 Hwy a year. Houses getting trashier, no codes enforcement. Our streets are in terrible shape. Potholes all over. (before the last snow). Commercial buildings empty for a long time. I know we have a few in business coming in Raytown, but for how long? Once these new business come on line and see if 1. How many free meals they will have to give away or the people run out before paying and 2. how much shop lifting the new business can endure. Raytown has changed plenty in just a few years and not for the good.

Anonymous said...

An ecard for my Raytown friends. Please cut and paste the entire link to your browser:

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I agree with December 30, 2015 at 9:51 PM and 12:10PM.

I look in my area neighborhood and see individuals walking around with hoods over their head, pants down around their knees. I see homes in my neighborhood getting broken into, my included, 2 times. I see a failing school district, a failing infrastructure of services by the city, failing code enforcement. The criminals have no fear of the police and many will incite an incident to provoke a police response that will result in perscution of the police officers involved.
I have to carry a weapon on my person to go outside to the mailbox, or walk around my yard, for fear of what these diverse people may do. Do I live in fear? In Raytown anymore...You bet I do

Signed, Raytown Residence

Anonymous said...

I don't trust anyone wearing a hoodie because several years ago after Hank Dogg died, I was walking the same walk that he and I usually took. An individual wearing a hoodie approached me at Raytown Rd & 60th Ter asking for money. I told him I didn't have any and he reached for the wallet in my back pocket asking, "What is that?" I pulled out my cell phone and he took off running into the apartment complex (probably thinking it was a gun or knife.) If Hank Dogg had been there, the hoodie guy never would have approached. I called RDP. An officer responded to take a report and stated that they failed to locate an individual of that description at the apartment complex there. I didn't walk that area again until I had Red Dogg.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Good story and point well made.

I have a friend who had a similar experience. He was walking his dog and a bunch of punks pulled up next to him in their car. They paced the care along side of him and asked him if he had any money. His response was "money?" Do you mean like gold and silver. To which the punks in the car started to get excited and said "yeah, like gold and silver." He reached in his pocket and pulled out a hand gun an said, "I don't have any gold or silver, but I do have some lead".

The punks sped away as fast as their car would go.

It is sad that our community has come to this. Not everyone will carry a gun, or act as my friend did in the situation. But I like to think the punks will think twice before coming back to the area again.