Financial Crisis Looming
"We did not anticipate as a board that we would see that type of situation down the road." (former Raytown Alderman Joe Creamer)
Financial Crisis Looming
"We did not anticipate as a board that we would see that type of situation down the road." (former Raytown Alderman Joe Creamer)
CITY ADMINISTRATOR SHARMA ONE OF THREE FINALISTS FOR IOWA COUNTY JOB
Finalists for Scott County Administrator
By Herb Trix • Apr 19, 2016
Three finalists have been chosen for the job of Scott County Administrator. Tuesday afternoon, county board chairman, Jim Hancock, released the names.They are Gregg Mandsager - the city administrator for Muscatine, Mahesh Sharma who's the city administrator in Raytown, Missouri, and Galesburg city administrator Todd Thompson. READ MORE
What about that
On April 13th the Raytown Times ran a front page story in which the author (the story was unsigned) wrote . . .
“. . . the Board of Aldermen went into a closed session after the April 5th meeting to discuss legal matters, likely a complaint filed with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office alleging that Aldermen violated the Missouri Sunshine Law by holding two meetings with fire district officials at the fire headquarters.”
“The city was informed the by the Attorney General’s Office that it would investigating the complaint, apparently leading up to the city staff’s desire to discuss the matter in private.”
At the time I wondered what all the brouhaha was about. Some Aldermen were invited to sit down with representatives of the Raytown Fire District. To comply with Missouri Sunshine Law they took care not create a quorum and made it very clear the meetings (there were two of them) were for informational purposes only
Last Tuesday night it all became very clear.
At last the Tuesday night Board of Aldermen meeting, the Mayor and Board were blessed by a visit from former Ward 1 Aldermen Joe Creamer
Creamer went into a rather lengthy speech in which he called the Board of Aldermen the “disgraceful seven” and then accused the “junior aldermen from Ward 2 and Ward 4” of using “bad tactics” on staff and Aldermen. He closed by saying they were “under investigation”.
My oh my, what a coincidence!
Let’s be clear here. Anyone can file a complaint. The Attorney General’s office has a duty to investigate all complaint. It has been close to three weeks since this complaint was filed.
Yet, nothing has happened.
Why . . . because Creamer's accusations are without merit.
Did some of the members of the Board of Aldermen meet with Fire District officials to hear about concerns over the handling of TIF funds?
Yes, they did.
Did they take a vote, pass legislation, or conspire to bring the city to its knees?
No, they did not.
Did they break the Sunshine Law?
No they did not.
Is Joe Creamer preparing to take another shot at running for a seat on the Board of Aldermen?
To borrow the words of a former Alaskan Governor and former Vice Presidential candidate . . . “you betchya”!
A Story about Complaints to
the Attorney General’s Office
This week’s lead story reminded me of a time I turned in a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.
I was serving on the Raytown Charter Commission at the time and wanted to review the City Administrator’s contract.
After repeated requests for the contract were ignored by the Charter Commission Chairman and the City Clerk’s office, I decided to approach the Attorney General’s office for help.
I had documented all of my requests, two of which had been made during public meetings of the Charter Commission. In my conversation with the Attorney General’s office they expressed wonder at why a public contract was not being made available. They noted that my requests were over two weeks old. The next day the information I had requested magically appeared in the inbox of my email.
Not all things are newsworthy. The recent lament from Randy Battagler and now Joe Creamer suggest there is some collusion on their part. Until the Attorney General’s office comes forward with a decision, it would be best to observe their political axe grinding for what it is.
Bits and Pieces . . .
- The Board of Aldermen must have got the message last week when we wrote of not being able to hear comments and votes cast at Board meetings. City Administrator Mahesh Sharma even went so far to mention in his City Administrator Report that “the sound is okay today? Very good".He was correct. All of the elected officials and most of the appointed officials could be heard crystal clear.
- The only exception was City Clerk Teresa Henry. For some reason, her voice either cuts out half way through the roll call or cannot be heard at all. The result is you can hear the votes by the Aldermen, but you cannot tell who is voting.
- Speaking of recordings . . . we had wondered who would be taking over the job of posting the meetings of the Board of Aldermen now that former Public Information Officer Brenda Gustafson is no longer with the city. Paul tells me one result of the change is that the video was available one day earlier (Wednesday instead of Thursday) than before. That’s a change for the better.Whoever has taken on the responsibility, they have already made a good impression.
- One final note on the matter . . . Paul also tells me the video streaming was not working at the last meeting. It is a small matter. We believe most people watch the recorded version than then live. But since it is in place, and the city has paid for it, it should be operable.
- Finally, we hear the musical guest at this year’s Summerfest at Kenagy Park will be Liverpool. If you have not heard this band before, you’re in for a treat . . . particularly if you like to hear live Beatles music.
Paul’s Notes: Raytown’s professional political gadfly was back last week. Former Ward 1 Alderman Joe Creamer visited the Board meeting during public comments. He jumped straight into a diatribe of accusations and veiled slander. Creamer must still be stinging from the defeat he had at the polls last election when he placed third behind Alderman Karen Black and former Alderman Greg Walters in Ward 1.
It appears Mr. Creamer has adopted the position of those members of the Board who did not meet with representatives of the Fire District. Those Aldermen are practiced in the art of obstructionism. It is interesting to note they have found someone so naive to carry their message for them.
|BY PAUL LIVIUS|
The Paul Livius Report
Board of Aldermen Meeting, April 19, 2016
During public comments, Joe Creamer stated he will be on the phone with television stations and investigative reporters about what is going on in Raytown with the “Disgraceful Seven”. He said he wants the Attorney General to investigate the Board of Aldermen. The Junior Aldermen from Ward 2 and Ward 4 have used bad tactics on the staff and elected officials. He claimed there were secret meetings and only three aldermen had the integrity to not attend.
Mahesh Sharma said April 19 was Jim Melvin’s last day as Interim Public Works Director. He has been in that position since September, 2016.
Alderman Mock said the Raytown Arts and Music Festival will be August 27 this year at Kenagy Park. Brewer and Shipley will not be able to perform, as they are booked on that date. The group “Liverpool” will perform instead.
The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance granting a conditional use permit subject to allow an indoor shooting range on property located at 6326 Raytown Road. Steve Brackeen is seeking approval of a Conditional Use Permit application for an indoor shooting range to be located at 6326 Raytown Road. The property is zoned Neighborhood Commercial zoning district. The Board of Aldermen approved a Conditional Use Permit application last year that was submitted by the applicant for an indoor shooting range at 8830 Highway 350.
However, since that time the applicant has encountered unanticipated issues in installing the shooting range in that building with the owner of that property and now wants to open the shooting range at 6326 Raytown Road. Steve Brackeen told the Board the building he currently occupies is not big enough and the rent has been raised.
The proposed indoor shooting range will be located in the basement of the existing building on the property. The applicant will also be moving his gun and ammunition store (Blue Steel Gun & Ammo) to the main level of the building. The sale of guns and ammunition is a retail use and is a permitted use in the NC zoning district. Therefore, the gun and ammunition store does not require a Conditional Use Permit.
The Board heard the first and second reading of an ordinance granting a waiver to the approved exterior building materials specified in the design standards provided in section 50-421(h) of the code of ordinances and approving the use of composite siding material on property located at 8320 Westridge road.
Brian and Kenda Bamesberger own and operate Star Drywall, which is located on the property at 8320 Westridge Road. They are remodeling the existing building on the property and want to change the exterior building material on the front of the building to a composite siding material.
The composite siding material proposed, does not comply with the Highway 350 Corridor Design Standards. As such, they are seeking approval of their request for a waiver to the allowable type of exterior building materials specified in the Highway 350 Corridor Design Standards as provided in Section 50-421(h) of the City of Raytown Code of Ordinances. The Board approved the ordinance.
The Board cast two written ballots for the position of Mayor Pro Tem. When no one was elected in that manner, the motion was made to elect Janet Emerson as the Mayor Pro Tem.
Mayor McDonough read a Proclamation of Appreciation to Aldermen Steve Mock for his service as Acting President of the Board of Aldermen during 2015-2016.
The Board passed a resolution establishing the rates for medical and dental insurance for the insurance plan year from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Alderman Van Buskirk moved the Board adopt Option 1 for the coming year. The City has received the rate increases from Midwest Public Risk (MPR).
Each year, the benefit structure and pricing is reviewed to assure the program remains competitive and pricing can support it. Additionally, MPR periodically requests bids to be sure member entities are receiving the best options for the price. Our plans were last bid in 2012 and are subject to re-bid on a 5-year schedule. MPR bid our pharmacy benefit this year and changed all plans to the CIGNA pharmacy network.
At the same time, the contract with CIGNA for the PPOB and high deductible plans was extended for another 3 years. The Humana HMO is scheduled for bid in 2017. The City currently offers three types of coverage: Employee, Tier 2, and Family. Each plan type has three options: HMO, Cigna Open Access 750 (PPO-B) and Choice Fund 1500.
The Choice Fund 1500, a high-deductible plan with associated Health Savings Account (HSA), was added three years ago and has increased in enrollment each year. This is the second year we have had a very favorable renewal. The average increase for each coverage type is 5.5%, with the HMO increasing 6%, PPO-B increasing 8% and Choice Fund 1500 increasing 2.5%. Attached are three proposals to fund health insurance from July 2016 to June 2017. The City currently pays 92.5% of the HMO plan.
Any employee choosing this coverage who utilizes a more expensive option would pay the difference. The City currently pays approximately 70% of the HMO plan for both Tier 2 and Family coverage. Any employee choosing this coverage who utilizes a more expensive option would pay the difference. All proposals would fall within current budgetary amounts. Option 1 is to retain City participation at the same rate structure and then share the increase in premiums proportionately.
The City share would increase approximately $2,418 for 24 payrolls for a total annual increase of $58,024. This option would fall within current budgetary amounts. Option 2 is for the employee to cover the entire increase. The City share would remain the same. This option would fall within current budgetary amounts. Option 3 is for the City to cover the entire increase. The City share would increase approximately $3,134 for 24 payrolls for a total annual increase of $75,227. This option would also fall within current budgetary amounts.
Staff did review other scenarios but feel the three proposals being presented fall within the lines of previous years’ practice and within budget. In the past, management has expressed the desire to slowly lower the City participation rate to the mid 80% range. Last year, with the excellent renewal and Board-approved wage increases, we dropped the City’s contribution 2%. This year, however, it is staff’s recommendation that the Board approve Option 1 above.
This retains the current rate structure and shares the premium increase proportionately with employees. Staff will evaluate decreasing the City’s participation rate next year.
The Board passed a resolution approving group term life insurance and accidental death and disability insurance. The City currently provides a group term life insurance/AD&D benefit of 1x annual salary, with a maximum of $50,000. The deaths of three employees caused management to evaluate the benefit we provide. The employees who passed earned less than $50,000/year and, although a year’s salary is helpful, it seemed inadequate at a time their families were experiencing significant loss of income. While we realized it is not the City’s sole responsibility to provide for the family, we thought we could do better.
Staff began looking at options and discussing with the Employee Benefits Committee. It was proposed the City look at offering a benefit equal to 1x annual salary up to $150,000, with a minimum of $50,000. This would ensure our employees’ families would have enough to cover funeral expenses and hopefully a cushion while trying to recover from their loss. Working with American Fidelity, our broker with Midwest Public Risk (MPR), we reviewed quotes and arrived at a proposal that improves our benefit with no increase in cost to the City.
We currently pay approximately $1,442 per month for 1x annual salary or $50,000 (whichever is less). According to the quote from American Fidelity, if the City proceeds with the 1x annual salary or $50,000 (whichever is greater) proposal, our new monthly payment will be approximately $1,416. Based on our current annual payments and the newly quoted rate, there should be a net zero or slight savings to the City. There will be a slight administrative cost, as we will have to calculate taxes on the premium for any benefit over $50,000.
The Board passed a resolution approving the continuation an agreement with Infinity Building Services for mowing services in an amount not to exceed $52,000. This 2015 Raytown Mowing Services project low bid of Infinity Building Services was for both the Parks Department and the Public Works Department mowing. The 2015 bid included options for a second and third year of mowing services.
The contractor’s mark-up is zero percent for both future years, and they do agree to work this year for the same costs as last year. The Parks & Recreation Department will have the contractor mow up to 14 possible areas. They included 7 park areas on the base bid which will be mowed on a regular basis, and another 7 areas on an alternate bid that will only be mowed when needed. The Public Works Department will have the contractor mow 35 areas throughout the City. Each location will be paid per the contract unit costs. The number of times each area is mowed will depend on the location of the area, as well as the weather.
The Board passed a resolution authorizing a professional services agreement with Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company for the 2016 sanitary sewer evaluation and billing study in an amount not to exceed $70,000.00. Staff requested funds in the 2015/2016 budget for a Sanitary Sewer Evaluation and Billing Study (SSES) in order to determine where best to spend Sewer funds to reduce the portion of the sanitary sewer flow that is not sewage, but instead enters the system through inflow and infiltration.
The study will not cover the entire City for smoke testing, but will provide a basis to determine target areas, establish monitoring for flows exiting the City and entering the LBVSD lines, and provide the opportunity to share and analyze data currently collected by the City of Kansas City in areas immediately adjacent to Raytown. Additionally, the analysis will utilize data collected through strategic placement of city owned flow monitoring systems.
As a part of the project, Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. will conduct a study session with the Board of Aldermen prior to the completion of the final report as well as a formal presentation of the final findings and recommendations as a result of the study. Some additional smoke and/or dye testing and analysis may be needed in 2017.
RFPs were sent out to five firms, posted on the City web page, and noticed in the newspaper of public circulation. Three firms responded. Staff conducted interviews with all three firms, and evaluated the presentations. Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. was considered by all staff members to be the most qualified for the study, based on the replies to the RFP and on the content of the interviews. Approval is requested of the budgeted amount of $70,000.00 to fund the SSES study.