Sunday, January 17, 2016

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

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BY GREG WALTERS
A Disconnect Between
Leaders and Public Need
In 2010 voters approved a ten year sales tax to be split between Storm Sewer and Park needs.

Even though the sales tax revenue is supposed to be split on an annual basis, 100% of the first six years worth of revenue goes directly to the Park Department.
  
In July of 2015 Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black exposes the fact that the sales tax is not be divided as promised to the voters.

The Board of Aldermen demurs. They waffle. Debates go back and forth as to what the promise in the ballot language calling for a division of the sales really meant.

Time passes. The Board does not act. The Mayor appoints a Committee to study the question.

Did I hear a collective sigh of relief from the Board? They are so clever. A committee has been formed. They are off the hook!

The Mayor’s Special Committee does its due diligence. Shepherded by former State Representative Ralph Monaco, the Committee comes to a decision. They recommend 75% of the money goes to Parks, 25% is to be allocated to repairing storm sewers.

What about the first six years of inequity on the split of the sale tax revenue?

It is ignored. The Board has already assured the Park Department of the sixth year. So the math is pretty easy to do when looking at the score card of sales tax dollars over the ten year life of the tax.

$2,510,000    Raytown Parks and Recreation
$   750,000    TIF payments captured by the sales tax.*
$   340,000    Earmarked for Storm Sewer improvements
$3,600,000    TOTAL COLLECTED (ten year life of the sales tax)


*This money is dedicated to paying the debt required by the TIF agreement and other tax abatements approved for development along 350 Highway where the Walmart Store is located. It captures over 20% of the sales tax revenue collected in Raytown annually.

Clearly there are winners and losers in the Committee’s decision.

350 LIVE (Walmart): This is one item the Board of Aldermen is of one mind. They will not discuss it. It is an embarrassment and a monument to fiscal stupidity. As the above calculation clearly shows, over 20% of the city’s sales tax goes to pay down the debt of the TIF, CID and tax abatements given the retail giant continue to haunt the city’s fiscal well being.

PARK BOARD: Clearly the winner in this case is the Park Board. Despite ballot language promising a division of the sales tax for its ten year life, the first six years goes directly to the Park Department.

STORM SEWER IMPROVEMENTS: The paltry amount given to this need on an annual basis will solve few problems. The lack of proactive action by the City Council on division of the sales tax does not bode well for their constituents who have storm water problems.

BOARD OF ALDERMEN: The Board leaves this mess with a black eye. Their reputation as a reform mined group is sullied due to inaction when action was called for. Some Aldermen say the Park Board had been promised $200,000 many years ago.

Really? What about the promise made to the voters just six years ago?

The reality is the Board of Aldermen had a chance to correct a wrong. They failed to do so.

Or is that the true reality?

Under Missouri State Law elected bodies are not allowed to abdicate their authority. More simply stated, the Board of Aldermen has been handed a recommendation, nothing more. It is still the Board’s decision to accept or amend the recommendation of the committee.

Why?

Because ultimately it is the elected body who holds the purse strings. The question is, do they have the nerve to right a wrong?


The Three Amigos
An interesting side story of this mess is the fact that three of the Board of Aldermen were on the City Council when the language was approved for the ballot in 2010.

They are Jim Aziere, Bill VanBuskirk and Steve Mock. Each of them voted to approve the promise in the ballot language to spit the sales tax revenue between the Parks and the Storm Sewer.

Did they forget their promise just one year later when they were putting together the budget for the City?

How about (professional) city and park department staff? Did they forget about the promise? They certainly remembered to collect the tax.

One the major roles of any government, be they appointed or elected, is to build trust with the people they represent. There is no doubt that trust has been broken by all the players at City Hall.

Could anyone blame voters blame voters if they were not to believe any promise from City Hall on future elections?

The collateral damage from the broken promise does not stop at City Hall. The Fire Department is said to be considering a sales tax increase in the near future. The Park Department is also looking at another sales tax increase as well.

Given the fallout from this mishandling of the 2010 sales tax fiasco, it would not be surprising if the electorate shouted “no” to those future requests from any local governing body.


Paul’s Rant! BY PAUL LIVIUS
A blogger recently wrote about the decision by the Park Board to keep Super Splash open another year. The blogger quoted Albert Einstein’s oft repeated quote:

Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Which is exactly what the Park Board is doing with Super Splash. They have chosen a path they have travelled before even though they know full well the path will lead to another year of economic ruin.

The number of patrons will not increase at Super Splash. If the summers continue to remain cool, attendance will may drop for the 90 days the water park is open.

According to sources in attendance at the mid-holiday meeting held between Christmas and New Year, the Park Board has a plan.

They want to show the public how desperate they are in need of additional funds to keep the failing water park open. It is as if they are determined to ignore what nearly everyone else recognizes. Even worse, they ignore the survey results which clearly spell out the problems facing the aging water park.

The demographics in Raytown have changed since the 1980’s when Super Splash was a successful venue.  Back then, the city was swarming with young children. Not so anymore. The median age in Raytown is 50+ years old. And 50+ year olds do not hang out at the public swimming pool.

The Park Board recently paid $50,000 of our tax dollars on a survey. The survey clearly showed that one of the three main reasons people in Raytown do not use the parks (and Super Splash is a park) is because they do not feel safe in them.
The plan to show how desperate they are for money is destined to fail.

The public would be better served if the Park Board were to concentrate its effort on venues that serve all the population. Walking and bicycle trails can be enjoyed by all, are not expensive to create or maintain.

Throwing away up to another hundred thousand dollars on a failing water park does not prove need. It proves Park Board members have large egos and refuse to see their own failure.


Raytown Schools

Community Center
Opens to Public
The Raytown Schools Wellness Center opened its doors to the public on January 4, 2016. Press releases and stories run in newspapers did a good job explaining the back story of the how and why for the fitness center.

The following information goes one step further in explaining the practical side of what many will come to be recoginzed as Raytown’s Commuity Center.

The hours of operation, services offered and fees for patrons of the Raytown School District are listed below.

For more information call:  816-268-7190.

Eligibility
Facility users must live or work within the Raytown School District boundaries.  A valid driver’s license, government issued ID card, ID card, work ID badge, or a letter from an employer is required for community member registration.


Facility Fees
Monthly Fee - Single   $30
Monthly Fee - Family $50
55 and over Monthly Fee - Single $25
55 and over Monthly Fee - Family $45


Age Restrictions
Children ages 13 and up can use the exercise floor. A child under the age of 13 can walk the track with a legal guardian.


Kids Club
Day care services are available for up to two hours for potty trained children under the age of 13. A legal guardian must sign an agreement stating that their child is potty trained. No food or beverage is allowed in the day care area except water. The legal guardian must stay in the Wellness Center as long as their child is in Kids Club. A legal guardian must check their child in and out.

RAYTOWN SCHOOLS WELLNESS CENTER
816-268-7190 (P)
816-268-7195 (F)
10301 E. 350 Highway
Raytown, MO 64138



BY JENN
Sick? Sip on This Citrus Cold Recovery Smoothie 
You know when you have that tickle in the back of your throat? Or you suddenly feel extra tired and just not like yourself? Or when, out of nowhere, you have drainage? All signs that a cold is coming. Or has come. Which is totally no fun. READ MORE



CORRECTION:  Last week we reported that the 83rd Street Bridge was due for possible construction in 2016. Upon further investigation we have found the only action under consideration at this time is for the city to receive bid proposals for design work. That bid is slated to be opened in September of 2016. Construction would follow, possibly in 2017.


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36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good week to talk about the professionals or lack there of from the city staff.

While doing some errands today, I noticed something of concern not only to me, but should be to all taxpayers of Raytown.

I understand the snowfall over night was minimal and that means only main and snow routes would most likely being getting the attention of public works.

However, I was driving South on Raytown Road something odd caught my attention, which was the fact there was NO snow on 69th street. I decided to circle around and check out 69th from Elm and I found the whole street only wet. I followed Elm all the way to 63rd and found no other side street as clean as 69th NOT even 67th, which is used as a cross through from Blue Ridge to Raytown Road or Woodson Road by many citizens. 67th even has a traffic light at Raytown Road.

Why would 69th get this special attention and there is only one special thing about 69th between Elm and Raytown Road and that is both Alderman from Ward 1 live in that same little piece of 69th.

Does this mean they have requested special treatment at the cost to all of us or is this another smoke screen by city employees to hide the fact that city services are on a decline and if they at least make a street in front of an Alderman's home look great the Alderman will just assume everyone is getting this same great service.

With the clear mismanagement of the past administration one would think this one would be doing more to JUST DO the right thing.

It also brings into question, what other areas are the department heads putting on a smoke screen for their elected management and they are buying it when they should be doing fact checks on their own and NEVER taking the word of the department heads as gospel.

Andy Whiteman said...

To be fair, any decision on the Parks/Storm Sewer tax division should be RETROACTIVE to 2010!
Andy Whiteman

Latisha said...

On Sunday morning I was headed to visit my mother at Hidden Lake. I traveled down Raytown Road and went to turn left onto 53rd Street. There was a Raytown pick up truck with a snow plow on the front plowing Raytown Road. I sat at the intersection with my blinker on waiting for him to get past the intersection. What does he do? He plows just to the edge of the intersection and stops. He goes back and for over the same section of the street five or six times. He stopped once, looked at me and laughed. I now understand why so many complain about the lack of common sense and professionalism in Raytown. This was just a case of a little man who wanted big power even if for only a short time. I wish I could tell you who it was, but there was no license plate on the truck and no unit number. Only the logo from the City of Raytown.

Anonymous said...

It is frustrating when a city boundary falls in the middle of streets. A section belongs to one municipality and the other section belongs to another.

Anonymous said...

One small point to make. There is no Raytown Fire Department. Rather, more properly put, it is a Fire Protection District. Many do not know the difference, nor do they care, and use the term "Department" as a generic term. The main difference is how they are run, and administrated. A department is run by a municipality (city, county, state), while a protection district is run by an elected board. The point being is the Raytown Fire Protection District does not have any "official" ties to the city of Raytown government, they are two separate entities. The only way to have funds for fore protection is from taxes. If evidence can be proven that the RFPD has mishandled or wasted tax money, then granted, they should not ask for a tax increase. However, if they are in need, they should not be held to the same so called "promises" that come from City Hall, since they are not run from city hall. Just because the Parks Department, and the taxes that should go to the parks and storm sewers is not being properly divided, that the RFPD is going to do the same thing. If it comes to a point where it is parks or fire protection, fire protection is the most important, and if they ask for a tax increase, it could be a matter of life and death.

Steve Meyers said...

Have you not seen the Public Works truck idling in my driveway 24/7, so that at the 1st sign of a snowflake I pick up the Bat Phone and have nothing but Woodson kept spotless since Alderman Van Buskirk, myself, and the Mayor reside within 1 block of each other?? Geez I thought this was common knowledge...

Darin said...

No wonder my street doesn't get plowed. I knew there was corruption in Raytown and Steve Meyers just admitted it!

Anonymous said...

Wish everyone had to plow once in their life. I worked for the city back in the day ,and they do way better than the past. Keep up the good work ,some people just will never be happy . I live on 79th good job

Anonymous said...

Too bad that person didn't come down into the neighborhood cause they would of seen the plow trucks cleaning our street just a few blocks from 69th. So let's all post on here the minute we see a plow truck and the location ; that might save locals from driving up and down icy streets in search .

Anonymous said...

If you'd like to see our self-proclaimed pro business BOA run off another business, flip on over to Channel 7. Glad to see Azier eclress his engineering skills on redesigning their site plan while the others demonstrate their smarts against the free market. This is why po dunk towns all over MO and KS have outshined Raytown without the benefit of being a suburb.

Anonymous said...

I did not see a snow plow truck but I did hear one. When I go up this morning my street was plowed. So what is the point? It is supposed to be plowed. That's why we pay taxes.

The most intersting comment is about the Fire Department. Has the fire department mismanaged money? Depends on your definition of mismanaged. They signed on to the Walmart deal on 350 Highway. That means roughly 20% of the sales tax you pay the the fire department (excuse me, fire district) goes to pay off the debt created by the TIF to bring Walmart here.

The fact is the Fire District did not have to sign off on the deal. But they did. Is that mismanagment? Whatever it was it was not very smart.

Peter Wilson said...

Anon 8:21

I didn't see or hear the snow plow. They came through my neighborhood in the middle of the night. Which is fine with me. I don't care when it gets done, as long as my wife is not sliding sideways down the street. Which is what was happening before the new Board took over.

Anonymous said...

The Fire district signed off on the plan to my understanding that when construction started on phase three in the open space across from Wal-Mart and the Ymca the developer promised to purchase a truck for the district. If that is true then it would be a win and you would have praised the Fire District. If I am wrong then please feel free to correct me.

Anonymous said...

I heard the snow plows thru out the night. Thank goodness since the temp came up enough to make snow and they could scrape that ice that fell earlier from underneath it. I drive for a living and am all over the metro:; yesterday ws brutal. Well atleast three people commented on the snow plows so maybe it helped to keep that local off the icy streets

Anonymous said...

Why doesn’t anyone discuss the disparity of where our tax dollars are going? The levys for this community are completely skewed. The City’s levy is .5295 to be distributed between all city services including Police, Public Works, Codes, Admin, Finance, Etc….the Fire District levy is 1.0064 or nearly twice that of the entire city and the School District levy is 6.32 or nearly 12 times that of the City. A great question is “what value are we receiving from these entities for our ‘investment,’ and what’s the ROI on each?”

Anonymous said...

Riddle me this - if our tax levy for the schools so high, why is Raytown schools test scores only slightly higher than Hickman Mills schools?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:36P.M.
Because of bad school board and administration.

Anonymous said...

You can thank Bob Palmer for not having a fire department. We share with Kansas City. There was a KC fire truck go down my street with lights and siren on a few minutes later came back up the street with lights and siren still on. Evidently lost. Time is valuable when you call for help you don't need a fire truck not from Raytown answering calls and getting lost. Palmer needs to go!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't they teach GPS direction following at fireman school?

Anonymous said...

Yes they teach GPS..? direction at fire school.
There are several factors why this supposed Pumper company was lost.

I will give you several
1) could be a different truck headed through town to a different call.
2) Hard to believe but some people that call 911 do not speak English ,some do not know the address from where they are calling from, Some are little children that only give partial address or they are cell phones that bounce of towers.
3) We ran around 5000 or just under calls last year from time to time we are dispatched on non emergency calls and en route we are diverted to a higher priority call.
4) it is based on the information the dispatcher receives from the calling party.
I will give you a example if you still are confused. If you call in and there is a language barrier or you guess at address and say 7401 Cedar the CAD system will show Raytown P-52 1st with secondary units being KCFD P-43 and then Raytown P-51 based on the computer driven response time when in reality you meant to say 7401 nw cedar. Which is north of the river so you will have our companies driving around trying to find a address or emergency that does not exist in our city.
I hope that explains it. If you are concerned with our map reading skills or our GPS ability please stop by sometime and I will show you the steps we use in finding your house.
You can help by knowing your address, making sure the numbers are visible to us and able to be seen at 3 am if need be, please give good information to the dispatcher so that it can be passed to us nothing is perfect and we do everything in our power to be there in under four minutes from time we are dispatched.
I am not able to speak to the automatic aid package and I don't care to. Those question have to be directed to Fire Department Management. I will say this and this stems from complaints I heard last year about Raytown EMS being brought in and placed in same system and getting used in Kansas City. I would only say that when they are busy or we need a third or fourth ambulances for other calls KCFD,AMR,John Knox Village and Lees Summit Fire send units when requested. It has to be that way.
I will answer question if I can but you have to post your name or I wont answer. I figure if its that important to you should have the courage to sign it.

Thank You
Capt. Doc Summers
I have been with the Fire District for 24 years.

Vicky said...

Doc - the thing I like best about you is that you give concise, easy to understand answers to questions. You don't talk down to us, and you give all the details you can. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Jan 20th

Where in Raytown are we paying 20% sales tax?

I think we would all like to know and not shop that store or stores.

Where can we validate this is FACT?

Anonymous said...

Doc Summers,

Is it me or if someone has a complaint they should provide the following for validation and explanation:

1.) Time and date they saw the fire truck
2.) Street in question

With that information wouldn't you be able to answer the specifics about that call.

Shouldn't they call the chief if they truly have issues with the department?

Anonymous said...

Paul

You reported: The Park Board recently paid $50,000 of our tax dollars on a survey.

Can Greg or you provide the details on who got the survey and how many were sent out and returned.

Example:
Was it those who bought a membership to Super Splash, rented a shelter house or was part of a sports team?

Were only Raytown residence included and if not who else got a survey and why?

Greg Walters said...

Regarding the 20% sales tax comment. Whoever wrote the comment does not have a good grasp of the situation. The question is, where does the sales tax revenue go? Or, more plainly written, where is the tax revenue spent?

The following equation answers the question:

$ 2,510,000 Raytown Parks and Recreation
$ 750,000 TIF payments captured by the sales tax.*
$ 340,000 Earmarked for Storm Sewer improvements
$ 3,600,000 TOTAL COLLECTED (ten year life of the sales tax)

*The $750,000 is approximately 20% of the sales tax revenue collected that is obligated to the Tax Breaks given pay for the building, parking lot and entry ways on 350 Highway for mega-stores like Walmart. That 20% = $750,000. It is $750,000 that will not be used to pay for a street light, pave a street, or pay a policeman's salary. The sales rate in Raytown is 8.25%. Unless you shop at Walmart, HyVee, Sutherland's, Aldi's, or any other retail outlet that has received a "tax break" or "tax incentive". For instance, the sales tax at Walmart is somewhere around the 9% level.



Paul Livius said...

The material published by the Park Board states the survey was a random survey. Greg and I have discussed this and believe it was a random survey but suspect it was one made up of frequent voters in Raytown. We base our conclusion on the track record of the firm hired to conduct the survey.

Their website proudly pronounces “The firm has extensive experience conducting surveys as components of plans leading to successful voter elections.”

It only makes sense they would attempt to engage regular voters since it is apparent the target is a "successful voter election". In plain language, look for another sales tax increase proposal from the Park Board in the future.

When they make promises in their campaign, remember how they did NOT keep them the last time.

Anonymous said...

Paul and Greg,

Whoever asked about the park survey makes a good point in wondering who really got the survey.

I think we all need to keep in mind that there is much talk around town about the number of people who rent shelter houses or memberships to Super Splash that do not live in Raytown.

It is known that Raytown doesn't charge more for non-residence while other cities do.

I thought we (citizens of Raytown) actually pay through property taxes to support the parks. If this is true, why are non-residence not paying more.

Anonymous said...

Mr Walters,

How can you find out what sales tax is generated?

I have contacted several people and no one will give me the answer.

Only thing I have been able to find out is the business pays the sales tax to the state monthly or quarterly based on the amount they collect.

However, how do they know they are paying the right amount to the state. I recall on the news a few years ago that a WY County Senator had caught business in KCK collecting more and not sending in all funds. I understand that is KS, but would think all states would face this same issue.

Do I also understand you correctly that the fire department pays 20% of what they collect in sales tax to TIF fund?

Do all the groups that collect sales tax pay that same 20% to the TIF fund?

Who sets the amount at 20%?

Is the 750,000 the full amount owed for the TIF?

You stated 20% = 750,000. 20% of what number equals 750,000?

Sorry for the questions, but trying to make sure I understand.


Anonymous said...

Vicky, Thank You and to the other poster yes a date would be helpful and it can be researched in our report system and through Raytown Dispatch as they would receive the call first and then transferred to KCFD dispatch.

I could tell you the type of call, what companies were dispatched and if there was a delay in finding the address and if so why?

Please check your smoke detector batteries and be careful with your space heaters!

Capt. Doc Summers

Anonymous said...

Paul - The park board and the previous board of aldermen lied about why the tax increase was being requested and then they lied about where it was going to be spent. When they got caught, their response was to say that people who claimed to vote for the increase actually never voted at all. They claim everyone knew what the increase was for. And now the park board won't give up the money that was never theirs in the first place. If the park board tries to get another sales tax increase, I will stand on the street corner every day and tell people why they should vote against it. When their terms are up, each and every one of them needs to go away!

Anonymous said...

If we had a charter government, a lot of these problems could have been avoided or gave voters more of an input, but no, lies were spread by the Bower types and the Raytown Trash Times.

Darin said...

The people that organized that last charter made the mistake of trying to be fair. They could have forced a vote in 30 days, which would have made it harder for the city to mount an offense. They tried to be nice, which gave people like Mary Van Buskirk, Joe Creamer, and Jim Aziere a chance to get on the committee to sabotage everything. Now that we have the support of the new mayor and aldermen, maybe we should try again.

Greg Walters said...

In answer to the blogger who asked how to find out how much money the city collects in sales tax I suggest he (or she) contact the City Finance Director. His position is that of the gate keeper at City Hall on all the tax revenue coming into the city.


Regarding the the question about 20% of our sales tax dollar going to pay off TIF debt obligations -- yes it is true. Very sad, but very true....all of the sales tax dollars collected in Raytown, be it from the park sales tax, the fire "district" sales tax or the any of the four city sales taxes, is subject to paying down the TIF debt on 350 Highway. For those who are unaware of this special "tax district" it stretches from Raytown Road to the east side of Walmart on the land between the east and west bound lanes of 350 Highway. Any sales tax created by a retail outlet in the district is subject to that obligation.


Walmart is such a strong retail outlet in sales volume that it creates approximately 20% to 25% of the city's sales tax revenue a year.


The TIF created for the purchase and development of the land was a tremendous amount of debt. If memory serves me correctly, in excess of $30 million dollars.


That debt has to be paid. The bonds created to pay for the development of the district and the stores within it -- pay approximately 6% a year in interest to investors who bought the debt.


At the end of the day 20% of your sales tax dollars goes to pay off the debt created by the TIF District. And will continue to do so for about 15 more years.


An interesting footnote to this fiscal nightmare is that even if a sales tax is created AFTER the TIF was created, it is still subject (by state law) to help pay down the debt of the TIF. A good example of this is the Public Safety Tax the voters approved AFTER the TIF District was created. The city is obligated to fork over 20% of that revenue as well!



Groucho K. Marx said...

Informative if not frightening information regarding Raytown sales taxes Mr. Walters- thank you.

Sales tax opponents could truthfully say that twenty-percent of that (any) sales tax is basically dedicated to WalMart.

That plus the sham that continues regarding the parks/storm-water revenues severely 'taxes' the very credibility of Raytown government.

Greg Walters said...

The 20% is for ALL TIF packages in Raytown. I believe that would include all of the retail properties in the tax district where Walmart is located. Basically, bordered by Raytown Road on the west, Walmart on the east. The property between the east and west bound lanes of 350 Highway mark the north and south boundary lines. There are other businesses in that area. IHOP and ACE Hardware, to name two.

Andy Whiteman said...

I was in Ace Hardware about 4 years ago and asked if Walmart and the increased sales tax hurt their business? The man with whom I spoke said that Walmart actually helped their business because people who go to Walmart can't find what they want and/or receive no knowledgeable customer service and go to the closest full service hardware store with a full selection. I asked an employee in that Walmart where something was? She pointed with her head and said, "Over there." I told her I had no clue where there was and she pointed with her head again. Finally I asked her to please take me there.

Andy Whiteman