Sunday, February 28, 2016

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE


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The City of Raytown has ignored state law
by not holding public hearings on TIF Projects.

That much is certain.

There is more to the Fire District’s complaint than a lack of proper reporting.

BY GREG WALTERS
Fire District Begins Petition Drive for Audit

The Raytown Fire District has begun an official Petition drive asking the Missouri State Auditor to conduct an audit of the City of Raytown. According Fire District officials, the petition is needed to find answers as to how the City collects and re-distributes sales tax dollars to pay off debt created by the Raytown 350 Live TIF.

 Raytowners can recognize the TIF District as that area of land between the east and west bound lanes of 350 Highway. It’s eastern boundary is the Walmart Store. The International House of Pancakes is the western terminus of the TIF District.

At issue is the amount of sales and property tax dollars the City receives from the Fire District to pay down debt of the Raytown 350 Live TIF District.

The Fire District maintains it is being over-billed by the city. They claim the city has broken the TIF Agreement signed by the City of Raytown and the Raytown Fire Protection District in 2006.

Sales tax dollars collected at retail outlets within the 350 Live TIF District, are collected by the city from various governmental tax collecting agencies such as the Raytown Fire District. The money is then paid out to shareholders of bonds purchased to pay for the construction of the buildings, parking lots and other infrastructure needs within the District.

The Fire District agreed in 2006 to share in the cost of the Walmart Store by giving its sales tax receipt to the city to help pay for the cost of constructing the Walmart Store. According to Fire District officials, their payments were limited only to the cost of construction of Walmart.

Fire District officials became suspicious of the City’s collection practices when they discovered they had been billed for a NAPA Auto Parts Store that had recently moved into the District.

Another area of contention deals with property tax receipts. In an internal investigation the Fire District found the City has also overbilled the District for property tax receipts since 2006.

Spokesmen for the Fire District say they first contacted the City about the indiscretions in October of 2015. They say Raytown City officials have been uncooperative in providing needed information to conduct their investigation. So they turned to the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the State Auditor’s office for help in gathering the information.

If the Fire District’s petition is successful, Missouri State Auditor’s office would conduct an audit of the City to find how the tax dollars were collected and distributed by the City.


ANALYSIS . . .

State Audit Makes Sense

The Raytown Fire District has taken a bold step in requesting the Missouri State Auditor to audit the City of Raytown’s handling of TIF payments and tax abatements as concerns the 350 Live TIF District.

Fire District officials began an internal investigation last October to determine how tax dollars are collected and re-distributed by the City in its management of the TIF District. According to District officials, the City has been uncooperative in sharing information as regards 350 Live TIF funds.

Fire District officials have been in contact with other tax jurisdictions also affected by the 350 Live TIF.  Given the complexity of the situation, they believe the only fair way to resolve the situation is to bring in a third party to review the City and Fire District tax records.

Fire District officials are on the right track to finding the truth and answers they need to resolve the debacle at Raytown City Hall.
Petitions calling for a State Audit of the City can be signed at Raytown Fire Station Number One located at 

Petitions can be signed at Raytown Fire Station Number 1 located at 6020 Raytown Trafficway. Blank petition forms can be obtained a the same location. For more information contact the Fire District Headquarters at 816-737-6034.



In Our Mailbox . . . 
We received a copy of the following letter, signed by seven of the ten members of the Raytown Board of Aldermen. It is in response to an editorial written by Raytown Times Editor Randy Battagler. Battagle had accused the seven Aldermen of breaking the Missouri Sunshine Law.

Mr. Battagler,

Facts are stubborn things, especially if one is attempting to make an argument without using many.  Recently, The Raytown Times editor Randy Battagler and his out of county assistant Bob Phillips wrote reports in their February 24th edition concerning the City of Raytown’s negligence to file annual TIF reports.  In these articles, there were many of these stubborn things that were missing and allegations asserted without any merit or journalistic integrity. 

Recently the Raytown Fire department discovered that the City of Raytown had failed to file annual TIF reports for the 2012 through 2015 years.  This discovery came after Chief Matt Mace and Deputy Chief Mike Hunley noticed several discrepancies in TIF reporting by the City of Raytown.  Upon such discoveries, it was found that the City failed to disclose and report its annual TIF statements mandated by state statutes

According to the Raytown Times, these missing TIF reports “doesn’t appear to be a big deal”, unfortunately the reality is much different.  The City of Raytown is not just negligent in filing these annual reports, it failed to hold several public hearings regarding such and failed to bring these items in front of the Raytown Board of Aldermen during the past 5 years as mandated by state law. 

Recently, the City of Columbia failed to do just that and was sued by Boone County.  Just this past year, a judgment was issued and the state decided to remove Columbia’s TIF economic mechanism for attracting new development for 5 years.  For Raytown, these unbudgeted “surprises” could result in huge refunds, the potential to negatively affect the city’s credit rating, securing future grants, delivery of services to citizens, unnecessary legal expenses, and more than that, would undermine public trust. I find these potential consequences to be of a very serious nature for the future of our community.

Beyond these very troublesome issues, it is now alleged by the Raytown Times that some Aldermen were not professional and were in “clear violation of the Missouri Sunshine Law” for meeting with the Fire Department.  Mr. Battagler accused these aldermen of making decisions without the majority of the board.  These statements are completely without legal merit and quite frankly, sad.

On Friday afternoon, February 12th, Jason Greene, board liaison to the Fire Department,    received a call from Chief Mace requesting a meeting that was deemed urgent. After that meeting Jason was informed that Mayor McDonough and Alderman Mock were already aware of the situation with the Fire District. Later that weekend, Jason spoke with Mayor McDonough and was informed that Aldermen Bill VanBuskirk and Jim Aziere had also become aware of this situation. However, there were several Aldermen who were not aware of the situation. Jason suggested that he would arrange small meetings with Chief Mace so that they may receive all the facts.

These separate meetings were held on Monday, February 15th, to give an opportunity for Board members to be informed.  The Raytown Times incorrectly claimed that these meetings took place on February 6th and 13th.  At these meetings, Chief Mace met with Aldermen to outline the serious concerns the Fire Department had. There were no quorums and no discussion of the city’s response was had, these meetings were informational only, no sunshine law was violated.  After the closed session meeting that following day, the city attorney stated he saw no problem with Aldermen receiving information from the Fire District. Aldermen hold a serious fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Raytown and fact finding is a reasonable and necessary response to any allegation such as this.

Beyond the City’s failure to comply with state law, it was also reported within the Raytown Times, that “Sources said that aldermen in the February 15th closed meeting grilled City Administrator Mahesh Sharma on the failure to file the reports and also questioned Finance Director Mark Loughry.”

Unfortunately,  Mr. Battagler’s “source” reported information from a closed session in addition to deciding to not meet with the Fire District to get clear on the seriousness of the situation.  This “source” seems to be making accusations with the assistance of The Times. No other Alderman was contacted by The Times in order to clear up these false charges.

We, the undersigned members of your Board of Aldermen take this unfortunate situation very seriously and commit ourselves to abiding by the ordinances of the City of Raytown, the laws of the State of Missouri, and your trust in us as your representatives to see that proper accounting of your tax dollars is done.


Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black
Ward 1 Adlerman Josh Greene
Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene
Ward 3 Adlerman Mark Moore
Ward 3 Adlerman Janet Emerson
Ward 4 Alderman Steve Meyers
Ward 5 Alderman Eric Teeman


From Paul's 
Photo Album . . .
Is the Park Board during its job?
Here are two photos of the walking lanes at Kenagy Park.  As you can see, they were recently overlaid with the same material used to overlay our streets.  The one difference, however, is no one bother to sweep the duck and goose poop off the sidewalk before overlaying it.  It’s not only disgusting, it shows the lazy, shoddy workmanship the Park Board is allowing.  Why should we give them more money?  They can’t do their jobs correctly now.  This is a total waste of taxpayers’ money.  Park Board President George Mitchell and Park Board Director Kevin Boji should answer why this was allowed to happen.






Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS

Greg shared with me an interesting story the other day.


When former Mayor David Bower was elected Mayor of Raytown, one of his first actions was to conduct a series of meetings with member of the Board of Aldermen. The purpose of the meetings was to exchange ideas and help set plans for the direction of the City.

We talked with former Raytown Alderman Barb Schlapia (who has since been elected as a Board member of the Raytown Fire Protection District). She confirmed Greg’s recollection. In fact, she went on to say that she and Greg attended one of the meetings with Mayor Bower.

She was quick to point out that Bower had set each meeting with three or less Board members so as not to run afoul of the Missouri Sunshine Law. The meetings were informational in their content. No votes were taken and no final decisions reached.

The Raytown Times published an editorial last week by Randy Battagler in which he wrote that meetings between some members of the Raytown Board of Aldermen and the Fire District officials were “a clear violation of the Missouri Sunshine Law”.

In each of those meetings no more than three Board members were in attendance. The meetings were held to exchange information.

There is absolutely no difference between the meetings held by Mayor Bower many years ago and the meetings between Fire District officials and Board members two weeks ago.
Randy Battagler owes an apology to those members of the Raytown Board of Aldermen who were disparaged by him for doing their job.


BY SUSAN

Injuries suck. For those of us who are accustomed to spending every day in some state of sweat, having a debilitating injury is bad for the body and the soul. In my case, my injuries were cyclical, making them even harder on my emotions: I’d start training for a race, only to discover my knees devolved as my miles increased. Eventually, the pain in my knee would be so severe I had no choice but to stop running for several weeks (or even months!). I’d fall into a deep depression until the pain disappeared, then I’d declare myself ready to sign up for a different race, and … well, you know how it goes. Heartbreak. Every single time.

I tried everything to fix my knee — hours in physical therapy, money wasted on custom orthotics for my running shoes, consultations with experts to change my wonky stride. Nothing worked. When my physical therapist sent me to an orthopedic specialist as a last resort, the doctor took a look at my MRI and said, “I can’t find anything wrong on here, but I think we should schedule surgery to take a look around.”

Surgery? To take a freakin’ look around? I’m not your brother-in-law’s Ford Pinto; you don’t just pop the hood and see if you can figure out what the problem is. Needless to say, I left that doctor’s office in a torrent of tears and hopelessness. READ MORE



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35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fear is a sad per view and this community seems to prefer fearful fiction over reality. We’re seemingly fearful of anyone “not from ‘round here.” We’re equally fearful of Bentonville, Arkansas for unknown reasons. Walmart isn’t even the beneficiary of any TIF proceeds…Block and Company is. Walmart’s costs in the project were probably 5% of the total payoff value of the 23 year program. The revenue from the TIF goes to the developer, not the retailer. Regardless, we tend to hate on Walmart because of our inferiority complex that allows truth to fall to the wayside.

At the end of the day perhaps we’re most fearful of facts.

There seems to be this notion and fixation on looking backward. Especially toward Bower. Had he been one-tenth the “bully” some suggest him to be, we’d probably have a hell of a town right now. You know, progress that’s measured in something greater than a particular mix of asphalt or the hours of the water park.

When we constantly focus on the small things, all we see are small things. As someone else said, the things we gripe about are luxuries and hangnails.

Back to the fear of people “not from ‘round here.”

Who in this community is capable of leading the city or creating new developments? The guy who lobbied for wedding world to occupy the entire greenspace? It’s pretty clear we’re not capable of maintaining ourselves…wages are down, businesses are closing (much to do with their inability to keep up with changing industry trends), the only new businesses are fast food places and dollar stores because that’s what our demographics attract. If anything, we need to hand the keys to someone “not from ‘round here” that has experience in reshaping towns that are headed toward extinction. Because we are.

So, ditch the fear. It’s only holding us back.

Anonymous said...

The last blog was a typical example of the misinformed coming to the wrong conclusions. Walmart was the beneficiary of the TIF. If it were not for the free lunch Walmart would not be on 350 Highway. Hide and watch. There is a lot that will be revealed by a state audit of how City Hall has mishandled the corporate welfare going on with 350 Live. A lot of people complain about the 2% in this country. The 350 Live TIF is how many of those people stay part of the 2%.

I would think someone who wants the truth to be known about this whole mess would run up to Fire Station No. 1 to sign the petition asking for an audit by the Missouri State Auditor.

Anonymous said...

We a strong leader around here. Someone with moxy and fortitude. A real Jeff Roe type to come in, shake things up and force progress! Tear down our blight...it's all over the place.

Too much time is spent talking and very little time is spent doing. How many of us in this website actually volunteer to help with the items we find issue with?

Go to city hall and fill out a form with the city secretary to let them know you want to be on a board or study committee.

To fight the power, you need to be closer to the power.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good summary to Tif for anyone that cares. Pages 6, 9-10, 12, and 17-18 give good info if you don't have time to read the whole thing. It's 18 pages long.
link:
http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/Tax-Increment-Financing.pdf

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the above site it is good, interesting that Raytown took the maximum time of
23 years to pay our off if we are lucky, in the meantime we do not have enough money
in the till to take adequate care of our streets and bridges.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:57, I do agree with a lot of what you stated but that does not change the fact you are wrong. You see the City was the developer for the Wal-mart project in order to pass the developer fees back to Wal-mart. Just google May 8, 2007 Raytown Aldermen minutes and you can read for your self. Or just ask Jim Aziere, he's the only elected official who can be held responsible for this mess. The minutes even reflect that the Board voted on the deal without actually having the agreement in front of them. The minutes state there was not enough time to wait to have the agreement done and the Board will just have to trust the staff.

Anonymous said...

After reading Gregs take on this and the letter from the Aldermen I wonder if Randy and Bob will have enough class to appalogize to the fire district for their poorly researched editorials.

Anonymous said...

Open letter to the Mayor and Council.
The evidence is clear and the facts have come out. If you do not remove the Raymore living City Administrator for this debacle then you are no better than those you replaced. This was gift wrapped to you with a bow on it and we the community who elected you to change the direction of the city are watching. The problem with running your campaign based on change is the fact you will be expected to actually vote to make change. Best of luck with your firings, Raytona Beach Bum

Anonymous said...

I bet the fire department is very happy Charlotte killed the EMS merger right about now...

Anonymous said...

This town has been in constant turmoil ever since this guy negotiated his $30,000 raise, in a year when no other employee received anything. No wonder he can't hire or keep help, no one respects him. Send him back to public works, there's an opening. It's obvious he can't handle the job he's in.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time for the John Benson era of city management?

Anonymous said...

Are we equally concerned about the salary of our public school officials? A certain local Supt. makes in excess of $250k?

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous March 1 8:18 PM Markley is way over paid and so is his buddy Steve Shelton. Markley has been trying to leave the district only one problem there isn't another school district that wants him. He would be a perfect for Kansas City. He could run their district further in the ground that is if it can go further but sure he would find a way

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it time we go back and eliminate the position of city administrator (manager)!

The voters spoke last year and made it clear they want us to be a 4th class city and you don't need nor is it required to have a city administrator.

Don't forget the two alderman that campaigned to keep us a 4th class city are Jim Azeire and Bill VanBuskirt.

They had the foresight of the savings to the city, which must be why they wanted us tor remain a 4th class city.

I don't know about you, but if the city is hurting for money, which has been diminstrated with the meetings on the use of the park tax for other things a savings of $130,000 or more a year would be just want we need to as they same "Move Raytown Forward"

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for Azeire, he has outlasted his relevance. He is so desperate to achieve more he changed political parties after 40 years just to find acceptance. Now he is clinging to this notion that the City Administrator is irreplaceable and should be given a mulligan once again. Come on Jim wake up and use your head

Anonymous said...

After reading the Raytown Times the past couple of week's and reflecting upon the unethical approach to reporting the news, I ask my fellow citizens what can we do to stop our tax dollars from supporting the propaganda approach of reporting.

Just this week a full page of his paper covers what and where to vote Tuesday March 15th.

Randy always talks about transparency and thinks he is entitled to information like emails from the Alderman's private servers.

Randy why don't you put up or shut up by provide what you charged the citizens to run that ad for the Jackson Country Election Board.

I am sure you will claim you don't read this blog nor your little band of friends from city hall who from your own writings last week had to have told of happenings behind close doors otherwise how would have you known.

This week you wrote that it was not any of the Alderman, which further provides a reason that the current city department heads most go as if it wasn't one of the Alderman that talked it had to be one of them.

I will say "thank you" for bring the issue of the city employees speaking about things at closed meetings to the public, which based on your complete understand of the "Sun Shine Law" you will agree is a violation.

Anonymous said...

Ok you know this is way more than the little thing Randy's paper and the finance director make it out to be when Reverand Wiley comes forward and openly calls for the removal of employees. If a a man who provides free housing, clothing and food to anyone in need thinks your without redemption that's really saying something. Enough all ready Mr Mayor man up and take a stand against incompetence.

Anonymous said...

To 8:18, ok, let's see, humm...

The superintendent makes $250,000, oversees 1300 employees and a budget of 98 million.

The city administrator makes $180,000 and oversees 65-70 employees and a 20 million budget and breaks state law and city ordinances in the process.

Either the school district is getting a heck of a bargin, or the city is getting ripped off.

Greg and Paul said...

To the anonymous writer with the comments about a local minister: We will not publish your statement for the simple reason you failed to sign your name. If any of our readers wish to leave unkind or rude remarks about another person, you MUST sign your name. We do not delete these comments because we are afraid of your version of the truth. We do it because you do not have the courage to sign your name to your accusations. This has been our policy from the start and we will not change it.

Andy Whiteman said...

1:35 PM & 8:18PM, Shortly after I moved to Raytown and before Mahesh was hired, I posted that the City Administrator was an unneeded position and others disagreed with me.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

A state audit could also include the police department. Wonder if they will find hidden money down there as they have found in the past???

EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog was edited. The word "would" was changed to "could".

Anonymous said...

The notice of presidential preference primary election is published in newspapers in accordance with applicable state statues.

Anonymous said...

I am I favor of a charter if it is the right one. If it makes all policemen live in Raytown, we have an appointed chief of police and a police board that the department is accountable to. All the stuff that goes on down there is horrible. They give raises when no other city employee gets one and get away with it by giving promotions that is why we have so many sitting behind desk. We also need an audit of the fire department. I call for an ambulance one time for a tree man who fell out of one my trees he was trimming. Improper tying off of the rope. I got an ambulance which is what I called for so why in the hell did the fire department show up? They go every ambulance call if they are needed or not. That is how they get those numbers of showing up....they cook the books. We also need a judge that doesn't give everyone a continuance and sometimes it goes on for months. I know this is what lawyers and judges to, as the saying goes scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

Anonymous said...

A state audit would include every division of the city that's why it's called a city audited by the state

Anonymous said...

You can't make officers live in the city. If it passed, anyone employed before would be exempt and you'd have a hard time hiring new officers. A person doesn't want to live amongst the people they deal with in that line of work all the time. It's a tough enough job as it is.

Beth said...

A continuance is a system in which a defendant has the right to according to the law. Most but not all choose to exercise this right under the law as to have more time to come up with funds. They are then put on the books to the next available court date. I've had to be a witness before and was surprised at the cout of 100 persons brought before the judge that day on traffic offenses alone

Anonymous said...

The notice is normally published in real papers.

Not propaganda and dreams of reality.

In in the end who do you think pays for it to be printed so why not print it only in papers that print the true news!

Anonymous said...

1:57

I don't know about you, but when my family, friend or self are injured and / or sick I want the quickest first responder.

Do you really want to wait on an Ambulance when a Fire Truck may beat it on the scene by several minutes and someone you love is having a hardtack?

Do you want to wait on an Ambulance to come from 67th and Manchester or 47th and Steriling because Raytown is either out of the city or doesn't have enough employees to staff the Ambulance for the time of your need?

I guess I care about the health and welfare of those I love over the perception of how things should be ran. I do understand that you can instruct dispatch that you only want an Ambulance and that is what you will only get, but for your families sake I hope you don't end up costing them valuable time.

Andy Whiteman said...

1:57 PM, The Fire Department responds on ambulance calls because there is a paramedic or EMT on the tire trucks. Time is of the essence in a medical emergency and the fire truck will frequently arrive before the ambulance. The truck has extra manpower should it be needed. It is NOT cooking the books. I used to be an EMT/firefighter/dispatcher on a rural volunteer fire department and we would frequently dispatch a fire unit for extra manpower.

I am sure if you had a medical emergency, and received a delayed ambulance response due to distance or being on another call, you would complain if there was no fire response! When I called Raytown EMS, I typically received a less than 3 minute response time but there were times that the response seemed like 10 minutes or longer.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

You will have to ask the jackson county election board and refer to the state statues to ask why they put it in a local paper you do not like. It is helpful to let people know where to vote and what is on the ballot . You don't have to read the paper . I picked one up for the elderly neighbor who just takes the Kc star and wanted eastern jackson county poll info.

Anonymous said...

So what is it Randy, either a city staff employee spoke to you about closed session (which would be a termination offense) or you are lying directly to your readers by saying it wasn't an alderman.

Anonymous said...

5:33

The issue is we have a real paper in Raytown, but they don't get the business.

In the end, Randy needs to tell us how much he is paid as those are tax dollars and Randy wants to know personal things about Alderman email servers.

So he needs to put up!

Andy Whiteman said...

10:57 AM, I was disappointed when Raytown Post shut down owing me time on my subscription. Newspapers, especially small city papers, are gradually shutting down or going digital because most people won't pay the cost of a paper subscription and, unlike me, are satisfied with electronic delivery.

It is my understanding that legal notices are a big money maker for publications. I doubt a business will disclose the amount they were paid but you could submit a FOIA request to the city and/or county requesting disclosure. Since you will be charged a copy fee, be very specific as to exactly which publication and the date range you want the information for or they will charge you for more info than you want.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

9:30 AM

Being Randy has came out in the public through his paper and said it is not any Alderman who spoken about the things that happened in a closed meeting, he has clarified it was a city employee.

They therefore need to look at what city employees where in the room and just go ahead a fire each of them.

Keep in mind these from Randy's own writing would be at least the city administrator and being he is head of the day to day operation and therefore at the end of the day responsible for the paperwork not being filed he needs to go anyway.

If the city finance director was present he too has reasons to go for being in change of the city funds and not being up to date on what corresponding documents are to be filed with other government agencies.

If the city clerk was present she too has reasons to go for she as the city clerk should monitor all official documents, which would include anything that should be filed with other government agencies.

If the city development and neighbor direct was present he too has reasons to go, which would include the condition of are city from his department not enforcing code violations and for being the last city employee to file the paperwork.

If any city position as public relations direct was present she too has reasons to go as her position and any other that was under the city administrator should be done by him as that was part of what he was hired and expected to do.

Need I or any other reasonable person go on with the justification of cleaning house and the full crew of department heads.

It is past time for a change and as Rev Willey said at the last Board of Alderman meeting it is time someone is held accountable.

Anonymous said...

I've heard a new request has been made for all alder people emails that have attempted to be deleted by alder people. Nothing really gets erased from govt servers. Those with nothing to hide...hide nothing.