Sunday, April 10, 2016

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE


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BY GREG WALTERS
A BloggerTalks Back
AND OUR RESPONSE
We received an email challenging last week’s lead story about the missing records at City Hall.

In that story we reported the City of Raytown had lost six boxes of public records concerning Raytown TIF projects. The missing documentation last known whereabouts occurred when the City took possession of six boxes from the Campos Law Firm of Lee’s Summit. Campos had been contracted by the city to maintain the records.  

At the time, City Staff had determined they could maintain the records in house thus relieving the Campos Laws Firm of the responsibility of maintaining the public records.

The records were delivered by Campos Law Firm to the city.

The blogger wrote . . .

Maybe this is too obvious, but how did the City Finance Director complete 7 years worth of project finance reports last month without the records to do so? Either your source is wrong or the reports that were submitted 7 years late are completely made up numbers... I know which I would be.

The confusion the blogger is having is understandable.

He (or she) is correct in his statement about the delinquent seven years of reports. The City Finance Director recently completed the reports. However, those reports are only summaries of transactions required by the Missouri Department of Economic Development

They do not include the detailed records and agreements between the City, Developer, and other taxing entities like Jackson County, the Raytown School District, the Mid-Continent Public Library and most notably, the Raytown Fire Protection District.

The City is currently involved in a dispute with the Fire District over the misappropriation of sales tax receipts from certain TIF Projects in Raytown

The dispute could spell serious trouble for the City and some TIF Projects in Raytown. So far, the Raytown Fire Board has decided to withhold payment of tax receipts to the City until the issue is resolved. Just as important is news that petition gatherers calling for a state audit of the city have passed the halfway mark in gathering petitions for their effort.

The six cases of documents that have gone missing are required by the State of Missouri to be kept by City. The City can delegate this duty another entity like Campos Law Firm. But it is still the city’s responsibility to maintain the public records

It is why the City has held discussions with United Missouri Bank (UMB) to provide copies of the missing documents

As we reported last week, banking officials have estimated the cost of recreating the files at $5000.00.

Failure of Accountability 
Unfortunately, this latest failure of accountability is a continuation of missteps at City Hall this past year.

Last summer it became clear that City Staff had not been apportioning sales tax revenue for a Storm Sewer/Park Sales Tax as promised the voters in 2010 when they approved the tax. City Staff had been awarding 100% of the sales tax revenue to City Parks for over five years! Storm sewer issues were not addressed.

The point is that for over five years City Staff allowed the misappropriation of tax dollars to continue. No one was aware of the problem until a newly elected Councilman, Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black blew the whistle on the error

The result was that five years of flood prevention was not built in Raytown.

The City Administrator and City Finance Director are (collectively) paid in excess of over $250,000.00 annually.

Their job is to make certain city business is conducted in a prudent and efficient manner. The costly mis-steps by City Staff reflect poorly on the City and are costly as well. Misplacing six boxes of public records that eventually cost upwards to $5,000.00 to replace is not a confidence builder. Neither is misappropriating sales tax dollars

The resulting dispute between the Fire District and the City is not good for anyone in our town.

Blaming the problem on staff turnover is a false excuse. If City Staff cannot be trusted to conduct the collecting of taxes and proper storage of important public documents then it is time to start searching for someone who will.

From our point of view, the taxpayers are not receiving a good return for their tax dollars. The Board of Aldermen and Mayor should take steps to make certain there is not a repeat of sloppy business practices at city hall.

Paul's Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS 
Cost Over-runs are becoming all too commonplace at City Hall. Two meetings back the back the Board appropriated $97,000 additional dollars to the Downtown Landscape project. Public Works forgot to include the cost of a project engineer to oversee the project. The project has been on the books for well over two years.

At the last meeting the Police Department asked for and received $76,000 additional dollars for new furniture for their renovated headquarters. How could anyone forget you will need furniture when upgrading a facility?

You can add these costly mis-steps to sloppy business practices. The next question needed to be answered is who is responsible.
  • Brenda Gustafason, Raytown’s Public Information Officer has resigned her position at Raytown City Hall. The question remaining is will the position be filled. The position was created by former Mayor David Bower. Before that time, the city did not have a PIO since it was founded over 50 years ago. We asked Mayor Michael McDonough if he intended to keep or eliminate the position. Ever the diplomat, the Mayor responded. I will not make any comments about that right now. It’s something we're going to look at soon.” 
  • Cost Over-runs are becoming all too commonplace at City Hall. Two meetings back the back the Board appropriated $97,000 additional dollars to the Downtown Landscape project. Public Works forgot to include the cost of a project engineer to oversee the project. The project has been on the books for well over two years.At the last meeting the Police Department asked for and received $76,000 additional dollars for new furniture for their renovated headquarters. How could anyone forget you will need furniture when upgrading a facility?
  • Secret Meetings . . . Someone has filed complaint with the Attorney General’s office over Board members meeting with Fire Officials last month. Raytown Board members met individually or at the most (three at a time) to discuss concerns the Fire District had over sales tax collections and billing by the City. We checked the law books on this one. No quorum was created, not motions were made, no vote was taken, not business was conducted. In other words, nothing even approaching illegal happened.
  • Speaking of the Secret Meetings . . . at last Tuesday’s meeting the Board went into executive session to discuss the Attorney General’s letter. But they almost did not. There were nine members present (Alderman Jim Aziere was absent). Four of the Board members voted to discuss the item in open session – those four Meyers, Jason Greene, Black and Moore obviously did not see the sense in discussing such a non- issue in private. They fell one vote short – voting to go into close session: Mock, VanBuskirk, Teeman, Josh Greene and Emerson. Kind of ironic . . . those last five wanted to go into a secret meeting to discuss secret meetings!
  • Speaking of Jim Aziere . . . As reported Aziere was absent from the meeting. Which is correct – to a point. The Ward 2 Alderman was seen entering City Hall at the close of regular business. Apparently, he did make it in time for the closed session.

The Paul Livius Report

Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – April 5, 2016 

Reverend Pat Jackson, from the Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, invited everyone to the Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast.  This year it will be at the Good Shephard Community of Christ on May 5 at 7:00 am.  He also said he has been working on an Interfaith Directory.  The committee tried to include all faith communities in the Raytown area.

Mary Tate said she needs help with resources.  She is retired and doesn’t know who to contact for the help she needs.  Mayor McDonough gave her his card and said she should call him and he will help her.

The Board approved a resolution approving an agreement with Midwest Animal ResQ for animal adoption services.  The City of Raytown provides animal services which include impounding animals.  When animals are impounded the City strives to return them to their owners. There are times, however, when the owners are not able to be found. When this occurs the impounded animals are currently released to the City’s veterinary services provider following the City’s 10-day impoundment period.  This results in each respective released animal being owned by the veterinary clinic.

While the veterinary services provider has provided animals for adoption they have limited kennel space and, therefore, it has limited the time an animal is available for adoption. Upon approval of the agreement, animals that are not returned to their owner will be released to Midwest Animal ResQ rather than the City’s veterinary services provider. Midwest Animal ResQ is in the process of opening a pet adoption center at 10312 E. 63rd Street, which will provide an increased number of kennels and enable animals to be available for adoption for longer periods of time. Based upon the number of animals impounded in 2014 and 2015, minus those animals that were returned to their owners, it is estimated that there will be an estimated 280 animals available for adoption.

 In comparison, over the same time period an average of 79 animals were adopted. Therefore, it is anticipated that the agreement will result in significant increase in the City’s live release rate of impounded animals.  Midwest Animal ResQ will charge an annual fee of $7,000.00 for the animal adoption services, which will be paid by the City on a monthly basis.  The total fee amount is based upon a cost of $25.00 per animal with an estimate of 280 animals being released to Midwest Animal ResQ per year. John Benson said Raytown has a poor image in the Kansas City area due to the poor adoption rate.  Last year, the city impounded 471 animals.

That was a 20% increase from prior year.  The number of Raytown Animal Hospital kennels has not increased.  Alderman Van Buskirk said if an animal is picked up and not claimed, the city has to pay the cost to treat the animal if it is sick or injured.  He said he could not support this resolution.  He does not believe it is an appropriate use of tax dollars. Alderman Meyers said he will support this resolution.  No one has convinced him there will be a significant number of sick or injured animals unclaimed.  Alderman Emerson said the city has been paying Raytown Animal Hospital to care for impounded animals for years.  The only difference now is there will be fewer animals euthanized.  Alderman Moore said he disagreed with Alderman Van Buskirk.  He believes tax money must be put to good use and this does that.

The Board passed a resolution approving the purchase of workstations and equipment from knoll off the U.S. Communities Cooperative Bid in an amount not to exceed $76,208.  The Police Department recently underwent substantial interior renovation. These renovations included many work spaces used by officers, detectives, command staff, as well as citizens who have occasion to visit the Police Department. The Department is now in need of equipment and workstations to best utilize the renovated space. Much of the office space equipment is decades old, and designed for a floor plan that no longer exists. Many of the old pieces of equipment suffered severe physical stress by being moved out, and then back in, as part of the construction process. The included furniture proposal from Knoll shows a design plan of both the layout and models of furniture/equipment selected for this project. The Department is able to utilize the U.S. Communities cooperative bid, which provides deeply discounted pricing. Knoll products include an excellent warranty, covering lifetime parts and service on the workstations and 12 years on chairs.

Knoll also maintains a non-obsolescence policy, making future renovations and service possible within this same product line.  Alderman Mark Moore asked Chief Lynch if they could wait another year and put it in next year’s budget.  There are too many other needs, such as street repairs and the police department needs to wait.  They have newly remodeled offices and new police vehicles.  Alderman Van Buskirk said he would support this resolution because the money to pay for this comes from the Safety Sales tax, not the general fund.  The Safety Sales tax dollars can’t be used for street repairs.

How they voted: Purchase of New Furniture for Police Department.
YES:         Bill Van Buskirk, Janet Emerson, Josh Greene, Steve Mock, Steve Meyers, Eric Teeman,
NO:           Jason Greene, Mark Moore, Karen Black
ABSENT: Jim Aziere

A discussion on moving into Closed Session was conducted.

How they voted:
MOVE INTO CLOSED SESSION:
Bill Van Buskirk, Janet Emerson, Josh Greene, Steve Mock, Eric Teeman
HOLD DISCUSSION IN OPEN SESSION:
Jason Greene, Mark Moore, Steve Meyers, Karen Black

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26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your record on the Aldermen vote on the furniture is incorrect

Anonymous said...

It is clear, that the Finance Director and the City Manager have been more the derelict in their jobs. Why is the Mayor and Council putting up with this? The Fire District has been trying to get answers regarding the TIF monies for 6 months and they still don't have them. How many other items are screwed up that are yet to be determined? Can't wait for the audit from the State, that should really be eye opening. Glad Gustafson is gone, she was a drain on the payroll!

Paul Livius said...

My apology for the wrong vote totals on the police furniture vote. Some of the Aldermen have trouble understanding that the microphone in front of them serves a purpose. It makes it possible to hear what they have to say. More importantly, it lets you know how they vote.

Some of the elected officials shy away from the microphone on certain votes. Usually the votes have controversial content or may be an embarrassment to them or the city. Each Alderman has an on/off switch on their microphone. They may leave it off intentionally or not speak directly into it. Perhaps it is just an oversight, but it seems to be a pattern that some of them follow.

This should not reflect on the majority of the Aldermen. Most of them want to be heard. It would be helpful in the Mayor or City Clerk were to announce the vote total after the roll call is given.

Either way, the vote total has been corrected. Thanks for pointing it out.

Andy Whiteman said...

Paul, You are not the only one! I always sat in the front (usually 2nd row) and couldn't hear many Alderpeople. One in particular never spoke loud enough to be heard. I emailed then Mayor Bower who said that he would speak with her. That did NO good. The only time I could hear her was when she was angry.

Frankly, I think many don't want to be heard! Does the fact that comments and/or votes can't be heard constitute a secret meeting?

Andy Whiteman

Peter said...

To Paul
I too have issues hearing people who don't talk loud and clear. I have to double check what I thought I heard with the facts many times in my line of business

Anonymous said...

I want an audit of the fire department. SOOO many of their calls are not necessary. They have to do it to make their numbers look good.

Anonymous said...

5:08 since you are an expert maybe you can answer a few questions.

1.) What is the definition of an call that is not necessary?

2.) What degree do you hold that makes you an expert?

3.) What value is added by increasing the numbers?

4.) What other insight do you have?

Anonymous said...

Some people don't talk loud because they don't want you to hear them so you don't know what they are talking about

Anonymous said...

Alderman Van Buskirk,

Seems you were very busy at the last Alderman meeting with your comments and now it is time for you to be just as busy explaining yourself.

1.) Where in the public safety sales tax does it say money can be spent on furniture?

It does say EMS and Police will have additional staff, which means additional not new individuals that are filling existing positions.

From talking to individuals at EMS and Police this has not happened!

2.) We did you change your position on being "Pro-Life"?

Under the past administration the mayor had to call you out for going on a monologue about the city needs to stop abortions. Keep in mind this is something reserved for the States and Federal government.

If the new animal shelter saves lives doesn't that fit your religious believes that you want to force on women?

Please don't act like you and your wife don't read this blog or that you don't owe a response on these questions as you are running for a higher office and we the voters have a right to know the type of person we are electing.

Anonymous said...

Out of the 5500 or so calls we will run this year, Please share with me the ones that are not necessary?
If you can please?

Doc

KMCCLA said...

About calling for an audit of the fire [department]. What exactly would you deem calls not necessary? Someone dials 911, and says I need help -- they send an ambulance, and as a matter of proto call, fire as first responders. Guess what, fire fighters just do not put out fires, the majority of calls, are EMS. In 1972, a show premiered on NBC called Emergency. At the time, only 12 fire departments -- NATIONWIDE -- provided EMS. By 1982, just ten years later, between 50-60% of all Americans where with in 5 minutes of EMS care, all because of that show, today is it closer to perhaps 80-90%. The majority of calls are now EMS, making roughly 75% all calls. However, they do not get to choose which ones they go on. Someone calls 911, and even though it is a nonsense call, they have to respond. Now, with automatic aid, the Raytown Fire Protection District, responds to many calls to Kansas City, and vice the versa. Whichever company is closest is the one called out (however reports now say that our Engine 2, AKA P-52, is now one of KCFD's busiest companies). The fire service does not get to choose what they run on, and they do not need to "pad" their numbers. Granted, a lot of calls are unnecessary, but it is people in the community who call 911 needlessly that are the problem, not the fire service.

As a matter of clarification, I am NOT, on the fire service. I am a fire buff (somewhat inactive), I have many friends on various of departments. So tell us "Anonymous 4/11@ 5:08 PM" what kind call would you deem not necessary for the fire [department] not to respond too, if someone decides to call 911? Are YOU willing to make the decision whether to send them or not? Or is it better to let them go, just to be on the safe side, even though it is a nonsense run? It is people who needlessly call 911 that are the problem, not the run totals.

Mr. Kelly E McClanahan/KCØKM
Raytown, MO

Anonymous said...

Again another voter didn't read the ballot and now complaining. Poor baby learn to read

Anonymous said...

I am curious what protocol is used to determine when a firetruck is needed in addition to an ambulance for a 911 call. It seems every time an ambulance passes my house, a firetruck is right behind. Does an ambulance ever take a call alone?

Anonymous said...

5:08 since you have brought up the issue of things that are not necessary here in Raytown would you be able to provide your thoughts on the following:

On what is NOT necessary with the police department.

Keep in mind the large budget expense to the city of Raytown is the police department.

Anonymous said...

To 4/11 5:08 p.m.
Thank you for sharing your stupidity with us. I bet if you are on the other end of the phone with a 911 call you don't think it's unnecessary. The Fire Department is Raytown's First Responder and a very valued service the taxpayers are proud of. Pull your head out of the sand. p.s. We do have an automatic aid with Kansas City if those are the calls you are referring to.....ask the firefighters that were trapped in the burning apartment fire what the value of this agreement is.

Anonymous said...

I am going to have to stop going out of town for the winter at least in an election year.

I have known for some time my party has issues with anyone thinking Trump is the answer.

However, to learn my old friend Jim Aziere is running as a Democrat.

I did get excited to learn that my county committeeman Bill Van Buskirt was running for State Representative, and God Bless him as a Republican.

However, I don't know now that I can provide any support or even vote in that race for him as I learned he too has turned on the party by not seeking reelection as my county committeeman.

Again what has happened to the party and if you cannot stand behind us with God we just don't need you being a black eye like Trump.

By the grace of God at our National Convention may God's hands deliver us from the temptations of Trump and give us someone like Jeb Bush that has had the light of God and the family experience to lead our Nation forward.

May Good Bless Everyone

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:33
Wow, you had me going there for a minute. Then I read to the end and realized you were just joshing. Good one! Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

11:05
I bet most of those ambulance are KCMO as we clearly don't have a full time ambulance in Raytown since Mr. Cushman left the city.

Maybe you didn't notice as they speed past your house

Maybe you think I am wrong, but if you left you house and talked to the EMS workers as I have and one is a neighbor you too would know the scary truth.

You would also be glad Fire goes to all the calls as when you need EMS help you might otherwise not get assistance in Raytown.

However, we have great minds on the Board of Alderman who have been up there to may terms and don't understand that there is no money, but gave our city administrator a $30,000 a year raise.

Did you know that same year my neighbor nor any other city employee got a raise. Bad management and the three Alderman who did this to Raytown that are still on the Board are: Aziere, Mock and Van Buskirt.

We don't need this type of mind set in any elected position.

Anonymous said...

Interesting someone sees a lot of ambulances and fire trucks, but doesn't say where.

Are these the same people that see tanks taking over our city?

KMCCLA said...

In response to Anonymous 4/13 11:05 AM

In short, no. The ambulance will rarely ever respond without the fire [department]. A few years ago my mother fell, and my father and I where unable to get her up. We called Raytown Fire, for a lift assist, and as a matter of protocol, and ambulance was also sent (which was not needed), all non emergency. The fact of the matter is, the ambulance crew may need assistance -- or -- as in most cases, fire often is the first to arrive. When they are dispatched, they come from different part of the city. Sometimes the ambulance is first, but it might be coming from a greater distance. However -- most of the time -- the majority of the population is within 5 minutes of response time from the fire service. So the reason is simple, they respond fire so that if they get there first, they can begin treatment, and also when the ambulance arrives, they provide assistance. If you have any other questions, I suggest you contact Doc, or anyone else on the Raytown Fire Protection District, instead of making foolish comments you know nothing about. Oh, and BTW, when you need EMS, be sure to tell them not to send the fire, after all, you think they are unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

This is a first for me because I rarely participate by sending messages to blogs. My hat is off to you for creating this space for people to sound off and give their opinions about Raytown.

I keep an eye on what is going on at city hall and watch nearly every meeting held. The comments about not being able to hear how aldermen vote is true. But I think it is best to comment on who is easiest to hear. They speak up and I for one appreciate it. I may not agree with them all of the time, but at least I can hear them.

Here is my list. You can always hear Meyers, Jason Greene and Bill Van Buskirk. Most of the time Josh Greene, Jim Aziere and Eric Teeman. The rest have their moments good and bad.

But the one I have the most trouble hearing is not on the city council. The City Clerk is very hard to hear and understand. She gives the roll call on votes but does not always give vote totals. Even if I turn up the volume I have trouble hearing what she has to say!

Anonymous said...

7:07 Thank you for you comments.

It appears that is not her only issue for one of her other duties is to maintain the records of the city and if the city is going to the bank to get copies of records....

I think you get the point.

Andy Whiteman said...

I have also had difficulty hearing Theresa I think because she uses a mic shared with another official and due to distance she is not speaking directly into the mic. I could hear her much better without a mic when she moved to the right side of the room to swear in an officer, city official, etc. That is why I tried to close to sit close to the front and right. Sometimes I could hear a low volume board member if I was closer to them!

Remember: Federal tax due date is Monday the 18 since the 15th is a holiday in Washington, DC. I believe state taxes are still due today on the 15th.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Missouri state taxes are due on Monday April 18

Raytown Newbie said...

Good Morning Raytowners,

Just some quick thoughts.

My wife fell and broke her ankle a couple years back and I made the 911 call. The response was very quick. The ambulance and fire dept. showed up and they were amazing. Stabilized my wife's injuries, and got her to the ER safe and sound.

Later on we got a bill for $500 from the ambulance side but nothing from the fire dept. So I am curious as to whether the ambulance side shares some of the revenue with our fire dept. since those guys do much of the heavy lifting?

Anyway, I'm glad we have such a professional team to take care of us when the need arises.

One observation. Since so many (a majority?) of the fire department's calls seem to
be of this type. Couldn't there be a more economical way to transport a couple firefighters to the scene? Say a vehicle such as the police use?

I'm not sure but seems like each truck carries a crew of four or more. So the driver and an equipment operator could stay at the station while the EMT escort pair respond. Then if an actual fire call comes in at the same time, the call could be responded to and the EMT escorts could head straight there as well.

JUST some thoughts from someone who admittedly knows little about how the fire dept. works.

Have a great day,

RN

Groucho K. Marx said...

Guten Morgen to you as well Raytown Newbie-

I was in the fire service years ago- so I feel I can help here.

Ambulance revenue is not shared with the FD in Raytown- they're separate entities.

I don't think even KC-MO EMS fees goes into a general 'pot-' although both services are merged.

In many ways- the fire dept. is a 'catch-all' citizen-service provider- and yes- the goal is fast and professional service to you- our employer.

You get a pumper (engine)- truck (ladder) or squad on EMS calls because that company may need that apparatus and its equipment if called-away enroute to your call or on the way back to the station from your call.

Can't do much with a club-cab pickup truck- but your point has been debated for years.

For the others- your Raytown FPD taxes also gets you the resources of the KC-MO FD with the 'automatic mutual aid (AMA)-' and that my friends is a real bargain.

They also do AMA in JoCo Kansas- and it works extremely well.

Hope this helped you and saved Doc some typing. ;)