Sunday, February 21, 2016

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE


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The Raytown Fire District alleges the City of Raytown has over-billed the District for its share of TIF obligations on the 350 Live TIF tax district and is negligent in providing state mandated reports to the public.

If true, the repercussions could be significant.


BY GREG WALTERS
Fire District / City
at Odds Over TIF Bills
The Raytown Fire Protection District has alleged discrepancies in how the City of Raytown has been handling tax dollar funds derived from the 350 Live TIF (tax increment financing) District. The 350 Live TIF District contains the Walmart store on 350 Highway.
Four times a year the Fire District sends a check from sales tax funds it receives to pay down the debt owed to bond holders of the 350 Live TIF Development to the city.

The TIF Agreement was signed by the City and Fire District in 2006. The Fire District agreed to waive 50% of its sales tax revenue from sales at the new Walmart Store on 350 Highway. The agreement also stipulates the District is to pay 100% of the property tax receipts on certain properties within the 350 Live TIF District.
In an internal audit, Fire District officials say they have found the City of Raytown has been overcharging the Fire District's sales tax portion of the TIF obligation since 2006. The report also alleges the city has not refunded any of the property tax revenue at a rate of 50%  as spelled out in the 350 Live agreement

Through a thorough search of records from the Missouri State Auditor’s office, Fire District officials also found the City of Raytown has been inconsistent in filing reports with the State in a timely and accurate manner. In some cases, reports required by State Law have not been filed by the city.

SECTION 99.865.1 – PUBLIC DISCLOSURE NOT SATISFIED

In 2009 the Missouri State Legislature amended Section 99.865.1 of Missouri State Statutes. The section requires municipalities with active TIF projects to provide annual public reports in a newspaper of general distribution as to the financial condition of all TIF projects.

The section also requires a public hearing be held at least once every five years to receive feedback from the public on TIF projects within their jurisdiction. At which time the governing body of the city is supposed to vote in public session to re-affirm or deny the TIF.

The Fire District alleges the City has not followed the 2009 law requiring a public hearing or the publishing of reports on an annual basis for public review.

Former Mayor David  Bower, City Administrator Mahesh Sharma and City Finance Director Mark Loughry’s signature appear on some of the documents from the State Auditor’s office. 

In other words, the City of Raytown is aware of timely reporting requirements as required by state law.

Specifically, the Fire District claims that since the 2009 revision to Section 99.865.1, Raytown has failed in three areas as regards reports to the public. Those areas include: 
  • Annual Reports to the Missouri Department of Economic Development Reports and to the Missouri State Auditor’s office have been non-existent or incomplete.
  • The city is required to advertise in a newspaper of local circulation annually of the reports and where they can be viewed by the public. The City of Raytown has ignored the process.
  • The city is required to hold a public hearing every five years in which it is to disseminate information about the TIF projects to the public. The City Council is supposed to re-affirm the creation of the TIF District by public vote at the public hearing. Once again, the city has ignored the process.

ANALYSIS
What’s next?

Fire District officials have contacted Mayor Michael McDonough and informed him of the lack of public reporting and the economic significance of the aledged mishandling of TIF tax dollars. They have shared an immense amount of documentation with the Mayor to back up their claims.

As for the issue of public disclosure as required by state law It is clear the City Hall has been negligent in following the letter of the law with reports to the public.
The Missouri State Auditor’s office has been made aware of the situation, and may become involved in any investigation if the evidence provided by the Fire District merit.

The Raytown Board of Aldermen’s liaison to the Fire District is Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene. Mayor McDonough appointed Greene as Liaison to the Fire District in May of 2015. His duties include attending Fire District Board meetings. He is also charged with reporting back to the Board the results of those meetings.

In his role as liaison, Alderman Greene has arranged meetings between his fellow Aldermen and the officials from the Raytown Fire District so that all information is shared amongst elected officials.

Alderman Greene’s action as liaison has come under come under some criticism from some of his seatmates on the Board of Aldermen. The criticism is without merit.

An elected public official has a responsibility to become knowledgeable in all matters that deal with the city’s finances and how they are managed. Each Alderman, when sworn into office, takes an oath to uphold all of the laws of the State of Missouri while in office.
Greene should be praised for his efforts to bring the two governing bodies together to discuss the matter . . . not criticized.

The Fire District has been very forthcoming in their effort to share what they have discovered with the City.

The Mayor and members of the Board of Aldermen have a responsibility to find out who dropped the ball in handling city tax dollars, and just as important, who at city hall decided it is not important to inform the public of information as required by state law. 



Paul’s Rant! BY PAUL LIVIUS
Have you noted the similarities between the Fire Department / City dispute and recent Park Board / City dispute? In both cases, individuals on the city’s payroll have been careless in their handling of city tax funds.

In the Park Board dispute, voters were promised a portion of their sales tax dollars would be used to repair storm sewer problems, the balance would go to the Park Department. The reality was the Park Department was receiving one hundred percent of the tax dollars for the first six years of the sales tax.

If the allegations brought forth by the Raytown Fire District prove to be true, sales tax dollars were not properly allocated to the 350 Live TIF District.

If true, it will be the second time in one year it has been discovered city officials were remiss in keeping the city’s promise and following state law.

Two positions at City Hall are charged with making certain the city’s business is managed.

They are the City Administrator and City Finance Director. It is there signatures that appear on documents on some of the reports to the State.

The combined salary of those two individuals is well over $250,000 annually (yes, one quarter of a million dollars!). It is their responsibility to make certain city business is conducted on the up and up.

The problems outlined in the Fire District’s report (which has been made available to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen) indicate mishandling of city tax dollars.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen should step up and find out why state statutes are not being followed.
 
The allegations point to serious problems at City Hall.
Our elected officials should consider asking the Missouri State Auditor to review the situation and make recommendations.

It was almost one year ago that the voters in Raytown replaced all but one position at Raytown City Hall. The people of Raytown were very clear in their desire for reform and change at City Hall. If the City Council and Mayor do not vigorously have this scandal investigated, then they are not any better than the people they replaced.


The Paul Livius Report

Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – February 16, 2016

Mayor McDonough thanked everyone who worked on the Sales Tax/Storm Water Oversight Committee.  He said he was looking forward to the report at the end of the meeting.  He asked for a Moment of Silence for the people who tragically died in the fire.  He then congratulated the Raytown Police Department for solving the murder of Harry Stone.

The Board passed a resolution to amended formal and comprehensive schedule of fees and charges.  Brenda Gustafson told the Board the City’s contractor fee schedule for a Raytown business license has 36 categories with varying fee amounts from $35.00 to $100.00.  The amendment proposes changing the schedule of fees so that all contractors pay $50.00.  This change is for contractors only and would not affect gross business (retail) licensing.  The change would help simplify the licensing application for contractors.  It would also make paying and online applications easier for the contractor.  The fees have not changed in ten years.

The following provides information on what neighboring jurisdictions charge:

Lee’s Summit Flat - $ 50.00

Blue Springs Flat - $ 75.00

Gladstone Flat - $100.00

Raymore Flat - $100.00


The following table provides information on how the change is projected to affect City revenues and how many contractors will be affected.

Contractor’s breakdown by fee:
Fee No. of contractors Current Revenue Change in Revenue
$35 contractors 355 $15,731.60 +$5,325.00
$50 contractors 313 $21,030.10 no change
$75 contractors 120 $10,437.50 -$3,000.00
$100 contractors 1 $100.00 -$ 100.00
Net change to City Revenue +$2,225.00

The Board passed a resolution approving participation by the city in the Missouri Department of Transportation Highway Safety Crash Reduction/Hazardous Moving Enforcement Project and an application for a grant funding in connection with the Highway Safety Crash Reduction/Hazardous Moving Enforcement grant for such purpose. If awarded, the City intends to use these reimbursement funds to decrease hazardous driving related crashes.  The grant allows for approximately 144 hours of enforcement overtime and to send one person to the annual LETSAC conference. There is no match required by the City for this grant.

The Board passed a resolution approving the purchase of computer equipment and supplies from Dell Marketing, off the Midwestern Higher Education commission agreement in an amount not to exceed $22,591.  The Police Department utilizes an IT hardware replacement schedule. This allows the department to better forecast expenditures and avoid large, one-time expenses of hardware replacement. Sixteen workstations are scheduled for replacement this year.

 
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40 comments:

Andy Whiteman said...

What are the duties and responsibilities of the City Attorney? I thought that he/she is responsible for reviewing all including new laws and verifying that the city is in compliance with all regulations and required filings. What is the purpose of the yearly audit? If the figures provided to the Fire District were in error, the audit should have disclosed it. At this time a State Audit should be mandated to ensure everything is in order!

NOTE: When I was elected secretary/treasurer of a fire district, the previous secretary/treasurer advised me the first year of the documents I was required to fill and when. It is quite possible that elected officials and city employees, even though they are responsible, are ignorant of the filing requirements. In this case, my opinion is, that the City Attorney and/or auditor should be advising and catching these mistakes.

Andy Whiteman

ASSUME said...

Andy,

Don't ASSUME anything in this mess at city hall.

It is going to make an ASS out of several.

This includes when you ASSUME that there is a mandated process for a state audit.

It is also bad to ASSUME what was and was not reviewed by the city auditor.

Why do you ASSUME it is the attorney's responsibility?

Why do you ASSUME it is a NEW law?

Anonymous said...

POLL:

The following individuals are rumored to be running for State Representative in the upcoming Democratic Primary. If the election were today, who would you vote for? No Republican candidates are believed to be in the mix.

1) Jim Aziere
2) Josh Greene
3) Anwar Khan
4) Ryan Meyer

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I wouldn't vote for any of them. I think Mickey Mouse would do better than any of those fools.

Anonymous said...

This is the biggest joke of the day. Josh Greene is a Libertarian and is much to young, Jim Aziere doesn't know what party he is and is to old. Anwar Khan is a plate short of having a plate setting, don't know Ryan Meyer but probably not him either. Got my laugh for the day!!!! Sign me SM

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I think the wrong Greene is running for State Representative. As for Aziere, he has trouble remembering who he speaks to let alone being our representative. Dont know much about the other just that they both lost their previous elections.

Anonymous said...

One thing is clear and that is Aziere is the worst of those choices.

Who in their right mind really believes he has stayed out of trouble on the Board.

I don't even know where to begin on the his foolish actions.

He has been chair of committees and then never shows, which forces the assistant chair to head the meetings.

He more than once said he wanted a Charter and at the end of the day after serving on the Charter Commission were he voted in favor of 95% of the items. Publicly spoke against the charter, which wasted tax dollars and continues to hold our hostage at the hands of the state of MO.

We should also not forget he was a member of the board when this 350 Live (Walmart) TIF was signed into action.

Maybe he could issue a public statement where he is on the things reported on this blog this week and what steps he believes are needed to get to the truth and who at city hall will be held accountable.

The one good thing I will say is praise the lord that he is not still teaching our children for based on his skipping meetings, flipping on issues and not doing things in the best interest of the city he shouldn't be around kids to teach them that his actions are what is acceptable in society.

Anonymous said...

"A wicked heart is an earmark of a doomed soul."

Anonymous said...


Anwar Khan once ran against Bower for mayor. Aziere stays out of trouble on the board of alderman, God forbid that he should be proud of his votes. May be Mr. Meyer is a good man?

Anonymous said...

How can Jim Aziere run as a Democrat? He once was a Republican Committeeman! He ran two years ago for State Rep as a Republican! Who does he think he's trying to fool?

Paul Livius said...

To our fellow bloggers: Many of you have probably noted that we have removed some of the blogs recently posted on the website. Most of the comments dealt with a local State Representative race that looks like it is going to be one hell of a party. Unfortunately, some of the comments were way below the belt. For instance, one candidate was accused of being the Republican Committeeman but filing as a Democrat for a seat in the State Legislature.

That is not really accurate. One candidate is a former Republican Committeeman, but is not now. It is true he has filed as a Democrat. So has the leading the candidate for Governor on the Democratic ticket. The point is, the comment made a false statement in saying the candidate was currently a Republican Committeeman. A couple of other comments made accusations that are purely opinions. In one case, a candidate was accused of missing important votes on the City Council. Fair enough, which important votes did he miss?

The point here is that if you are going to post anonymously, be ready to back up your words with facts. If you are going to take personal shots at someone, man up, or, as the case may be, lady up, and sign your real name to your post.

Otherwise you can expect your blog to be either edited or deleted.

As bad as the Raytown Times said...

Paul

I don't want to call BS on you, but when you step in it you don't need to roll in it.

I noticed comments about one of the candidates for state representative had been removed.

However, I would like to call you out on what was not a fact about that candidate.

Have me uncovered that Paul is real Jim Aziere?

Or at least an Aziere supporter?

Anonymous said...

Remember the law that city employees must live in the city and Bowers ignoring the law in favor of Mahesh Sharma because he was suppose to be such a wonderful city administrator? In fact Sharma got a raise because he was suppose to be so good. Now we see how good he is. This is a mess and it's a mess than falls right at Sharma's feet. He's not this super admin Bowers painted him to be. It's time the city hold Sharma to his responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the race for State Rep. will be a comedy act. On another note, Thank you to the Raytown Fire Protection District for uncovering what could be some very serious problems at City Hall regarding how our tax dollars are being accounted for. It's refreshing to know that someone still takes their fiduciary responsibility to the Taxpayers seriously.

Steve Meyers said...

I don't believe it is a "Rumor" that former Ward 5 Alderman and current Board of Zoning Adjustment Chairman Pat Riehle has already filed for that State Rep race. I read that Pat Riehle had filed in a press release close to a month ago. In discussing the roster of candidates with Josh Greene recently he even knew Pat was a canidate?? C'mon Man....

Paul Livius said...

Actually I removed or edited two comments about candidates. One was an inaccurate accusation that one of the reported persons interested in running for state representative as a Democrat is a Republican Committeeman. That is simply not true.

The other comment claimed another announced candidate had missed many important votes on the Raytown City Council . . . but failed to mention which important votes were missed.

There are a few other comments so outlandish in their presentation that they bordered on libel. Of course, the comments were unsigned.

I don't mind that comments are placed anonymously, but we will check them for accuracy. As I wrote last night. If you are going to make an accusation, do so with some evidence to support what is being said.

If your comment contains inaccurate information or profanity, it will be edited or removed.

By the way. I am not Jim Aziere. You have eliminated one Raytowner out of about 30,000. Only 29,999 left to go. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

The truth is that no one has filed for any office that takes place in the August primary, because today (Feb 23 is the opening of filing) So anyone wanting to file will have to make the trip to Jefferson City to get on the ballot for August.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

I agree with your sentiment on removing unfounded, malicious text from this page. However, if you are going to correct somebody's post, I think you should declare that it was corrected as well.

Anonymous said...

HOW THEY VOTED



I take issue with you for you comment Paul

ISSUE: DOLLAR GENERAL STORE ZONING APPLICATION


YES: Jason Greene, Steve Mock, Bill VanBuskirk, Eric Teeman
Janet Emerson, Steve Meyers, Mark Moore
NO: Karen Black
ABSENT: Jim Aziere, Josh Greene

As I said both Aziere and Josh Greene missed another meeting. And for Josh this was a vote on
a issue that was for his Ward you would think that the people in his ward would matter.

Paul Livius said...

A very good point. In the future, we will note when a comment has been edited.

Beth said...

Paul
8:50 am and 8:11 am comment can't both be true so which one is true ?? I'm very curious as to which is factual

Paul Livius said...

Official filing for office opened today. The four potential candidates mentioned in an earlier blog was certainly not a vicious attack on anyone. I do know that Pat Riehle published in at least one of the local newspapers. Josh Greene has spoken of running, as has Jim Aziere. The other two names were Ryan Meyer and Anwar Khan. Both of whom have run for political office before. The blogger clearly stated all of the candidates were rumored to be running.

I guess the only fact is that they are all rumored to be running. I am certain we will know for sure in the very near future.

Steve Meyers said...

I amend my previous statement as the filing date inception is today 2/23 and apologize for the confusion. Please add longtime Democrat Pat Riehle to the list of "Rumored" canidates who has told just about everyone in Raytown including running an add in the Raytown Brooking Eagle his intention to run for State Representative.

Steve Meyers said...

I amend my previous statement as the filing date inception is today 2/23 and apologize for the confusion. Please add longtime Democrat Pat Riehle to the list of "Rumored" canidates who has told just about everyone in Raytown including running an add in the Raytown Brooking Eagle his intention to run for State Representative.

Anonymous said...

When the grass is cut the snakes will show. Unfortunately, we're probably headed toward an instance of many more snakes than blades of grass. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

I signed the petition today for the audit. Make sure you do as well

Vicky said...

Anonymous 10:34

Where is the petition so we can sign it?

Anonymous said...

I understand there will be many petition books available, keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

Where can we sign the petition for the audit??

Anonymous said...

Randy's bias toward this new board has been apparent since bower left. He sure doesn't like Jason Green, which means he must be a good guy. I see no problem with aldermen becoming informed on an issue, Im sorry that Randy does.

Anonymous said...


February 24 at 10:02 A.M. get your facts straight. What a screwed up a mess you wrote.

Anonymous said...

Is there any accountability left at city hall? First they mess up the division of sales tax collected for parks and storm sewers. The allegations of serious over-billing by the city of the fire department makes me wonder if they have done the same to the other taxing entities who give up tax money for 350 Live. Jackson County has a sales tax. The Mid-Continent Library, Raytown School District and (again) Jackson County are affected by property tax reductions on the site.

Someone at city hall has to be responsible. Unless the city council and mayor get rid of the person(s) responsible for the wrongful billing, look for it to happen again and again.

Our elected representatives need to man up and take care of business.

The time for half-baked excuses is over. Fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

I love reading Randy's paper I used the Eagle to put on the bottom of my bird cage. That is all it is good for!!!

Anonymous said...

What is the amount of the alleged shortfall to the Fire District? Unless the district is low on cash, it must be a pretty large amount of money.

Anonymous said...

I've visited this site for a while and I think if we're all really honest with ourselves, Raytown doesn't have much in the way of truly negative stuff going on. Sure some crime occurs and our schools aren't exactly leading the metro in academics, but if you really look at the complaints on this board, they aren't catastrophic.

Someone at city hall didnt file a report. Someone gets paid too much...fine, knock the salary back to its original level and give every resident a buck. Wheeee!

We have too many discount stores...BECAUSE WE HAVE RELATIVELY LOW
INCOMES. Demographics dont lie. It's not a conspiracy. Nordstrom and Mortons aren't coming for the very reason Dollar Gen and whoever else has shown up. Dollars and demographics.

What happened to all the Agenda 21 tin foilers who thought the city was about to condemn and take everyone's homes because an obscure United Nations document mentioned something about going green. Sorry, but global domination wont likely begin with a bike path in front of the Raytown IHOP.

Our problems are miniscule and the opportunity to gripe about such small things is a luxury.

I just wish we felt as strongly about maintaining our property as we do about the former mayor wanting a parade.

Come on...clean up your property and ask your neighbors to do the same. We can make a difference in this town if we actually make a difference in lieu of complaining.

Let's go!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't care if the Fire Department is flush with cash, if the city is giving one dime of thier tax money to Bentonville it needs to stop. If it is determined that it was done on purpose the staff responsible should be fired.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe people still read Randy's Rag! Look up yellow journalism in the dictionary and you'll find the Raytown Times.