Sunday, December 11, 2016


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Search for City
Administrator Begins
Raytown’s current City Administrator, Mark Loughry, has a couple of weeks left before he leaves his post at City Hall.

City officials have begun their search for a new City Administrator. It has been reported that they reached out to Strategic Government Resources (SGR) to take on the task of screening candidates for the position. Unfortunately, SGR replied they did not have the resources to take on the project. The result is that City Hall is back to square one on the search.

City officials are not discussing it out loud, but they may have a viable candidate already on the payroll at City Hall.

Tom Cole currently serves as the City's Economic Development Administrator and Public Information Officer. He has also been active in revamping how the City enforces its property codes.

Enforcement of property codes is one of the city’s most important responsibilities. It is especially true if your goal is to improve the image of a city.

The city adopts laws to set standards as to what is expected of property owners in the upkeep of homes and businesses.  

For instance, if a neighbor allows his lawn to become overgrown with weeds and cluttered with trash. It is the property maintenance codes that come into play.

In the past, the city would send a letter requiring the owner to clean up the violation. If the cleanup is not done properly or within a reasonable time period, the owner would be ticketed and summoned to Municipal Court for a hearing.

The problem with that type of enforcement is that the defendant can ask for continuances, such as new court dates, extensions and so forth. The Court does not have to comply with the request(s). But the reality is the Court generally approves continuances on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the mess remains, blighting a neighborhood.

Tom Cole has streamlined the procedure. When a complaint is filed, now the city sends a letter to the property owner. If the property owner does not clean up the mess in the allotted time, the city hires an outside contractor to clean it up for them. The homeowner is sent a bill. If the homeowner does not pay the bill, a lien is placed on the property.

Tom tells me all of the detail of the procedure is clearly stated in the letter. If a homeowner wishes to challenge the city’s action, they can do so by taking the matter to Municipal Court.

I served with five different Mayors and worked with four different city administrators in my time at City Hall (1980 thru 2009). Some of them were helpful in fixing neighborhood problems. Some, like former Mayor David Bower and former City Administrator Mahesh Sharma, literally refused to address property code issues.

I will be very clear on this one.

Raytown needs more city officials like Tom Cole.

His job description does not really include code enforcement. It does, however include Economic Development. He has demonstrated that his role as a city official is to find solutions, not excuses. This one solution cannot be understated. He has shown he can think outside the box.

Cole’s accolades stretch much further. Drive around Raytown. You will see new buildings and higher occupation rates in the business areas. All of this cannot be attributed to one individual, but it is fair to say that Tom Cole has proven himself capable in his job as Economic Development Director. Most importantly, he has shown he works well with the new Mayor and City Council.

Our Mayor and Board of Aldermen are searching for a new City Administrator. They should take a hard look within their own ranks before spending one penny with a corporate head hunter.

The money saved by not hiring a head hunter could be used to expand the street overlay next summer. Since there was not any street improvement work on our neighborhood streets this year, it would help give a needed shot in the arm to one of the most neglected maintenance issues in Raytown.

One final thought, please, use asphalt instead of the tar and gravel concoction on our streets. That mixture is meant to be used on streets in reasonably good condition. It is not meant to be used as a replacement for asphalt.

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting
December 06, 2016

Mr. Riley went before the Board to say there is an empty house near 66th and Claremont.  It has high weeds and grass.  The windows and driveways are in need of repair.  He has been to City Hall numerous times.  He wanted to know why nothing has been done yet.  Mayor McDonough said there is a new program just recently implemented in the codes department and he will give them the address.

During a study session of the sanitary sewer system review of Flow Analysis and Billing, Burns & McDonnell said they conducted investigations on the City’s existing sanitary sewer system to identify opportunities to effectively manage wastewater rates.  Investigations included flow and rainfall metering, a flow analysis of the data collected, smoke testing, stream crossing assessments, and TV inspections.  Along with evaluating the sewer system a brief study was done to establish a better understanding of the cost split agreement with Kansas City, MO as well as billing rates from Little Blue Valley Sewer District.  From this study Burns & McDonnell has developed recommendations and “next steps” that will allow the City to improve the overall sanitary sewer systems functionality while controlling billing costs.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the reappointment of Pat Jackson to the Jackson County Board of Equalization.

The Board passed an ordinance amending chapter 44 of the code of ordinances.  Over the past several years, sewer treatment costs have risen at a double-digit rate for treatment services provided by Kansas City Missouri (KCMO) and approximately 6% per year for Little Blue Valley Sewer District (LBVSD) provided services.  For several years, City staff was able to maintain the City rate through the implementation of numerous cost-saving programs; however, last year staff recommended a 4% increase to help offset the rising cost of services and shortly after implementation the City was notified of a significant increase from LBVSD in excess of $600,000.00.  Given the recent City sewer rate increase at that time, management elected to defer any additional increases for the 2016 fiscal year.  This year in order to be compliant with funding requirements associated with debt issued for the sewer fund the sewer rate will need to be increased approximately 15% across the board.  This will allow for a balanced budget in the sewer fund as required by bond documents and to ensure sustainability of the fund.  Based on historical increases from KCMO and LBVSD there will be additional increases needed in future years.  Due to rising costs in treatment, maintenance, and operations, staff is recommending the following adjustments to Chapter 44, Article III, Sec. 44-154: 1) Amend c (4) to read Base Rate - the Base Rate shall be $[12.78] 14.70 per month.  2) Amend c (9) to read Variable rate.  The revenue charged expressed in per 1,000 gallons that is derived when the annual variable rate revenue requirement is divided by the customer volumes, estimated to be [seven dollars and twenty] eight dollars and twenty-eight cents $[7.20] 8.28 per 1,000 gallons, in excess of 1,000 gallons.

The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance amending chapter 1, general provisions, section 1-2, definitions, and rules of construction of code and ordinances.  The staff is urging the Board to approve the Ordinance amending the Raytown Code to be consistent with Section Chapter 479, et al., of the Missouri Statute.  On May 25, 2016, the Missouri Legislature enacted legislation known as Senate Bill 572 signed by the Governor on June 17, 2016, which, among other things modified Chapter 479.350 and created the definition of “Municipal Ordinance Violation” regarding collection of fines and court costs.  The legislative changes in the laws of the State of Missouri require amendment of Raytown City Code Chapter 1, Section 1-2 on Definitions and rules of construction in the case of “Municipal ordinance violation” as defined in Section 479.350 in order to comply. 

The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance amending chapter 1, general provisions, section 1-22, definitions, and rules of construction of code and ordinances.  The staff is urging the Board to approve the Ordinance amending the Raytown Code to be consistent with Section Chapter 479, et al., of the Missouri Statute.  On May 25, 2016, the Missouri Legislature enacted legislation known as Senate Bill 572 signed by the Governor on June 17, 2016, which modified distribution of Traffic Fines and Court Costs collected by Municipal Courts and amended Chapter 479.353 as to “Minor Traffic Violation” and “Municipal ordinance violation”.  The legislative changes in the laws of the State of Missouri require amendment of Raytown City Code Chapter 1, Section 1-22 on General Penalty, Continuing Violations to comply with Section 479.353, which provided the Court shall not assess fines and court costs in excess of $225.00 to comply with the same.

The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance amending chapter 10, businesses and business regulations application for solicitation permit, standards for issuance; and section 10-353 prohibited acts of the code of ordinances The City Clerk’s office issues permits for Solicitors and Peddlers within the City per Ordinance.  Every three years the City Clerk’s office is audited for compliance by the Missouri State Highway Patrol/ Criminal Justice Information Systems regarding the background checks completed under and existing ORI issued by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.  In the last audit, the City’s existing ordinance was discussed regarding the parameters in which a permit is issued and the wording added was suggested in order to alleviate any situation where there may be a plea or a pending disposition.  The amendment will add additional language to the current ordinance in order to alleviate any situation where there may be a plea or a pending disposition.

The Board passed a resolution approving the purchase of portable radios and equipment from Motorola Solutions, in an amount not to exceed $23,572.88.  Portable radios are used on every ambulance call.  In addition to communicating with the Dispatch Center, the radios can also be used to communicate with the hospitals as needed, and are set up to allow interoperability on all the local and regional systems.  The existing inventory of XTS-series radios is reaching the end of service life, and beginning to experience failures.  The XTS-series has been discontinued by Motorola.  The APX 4000-series was selected by Raytown PD as being the appropriate model for our system.  The quoted cost includes the radios, protective cases with belt loops, collar mics, spare batteries, chargers, and programming.

The Board passed a resolution approving a maintenance contract with Motorola solutions in an amount not to exceed $29,584.  The Police Department uses the Motorola radio system during its normal course of duties.  To ensure the life span of the equipment having the manufacturer perform the maintenance will make certain the equipment has the best service available.  Proper maintenance is necessary to extend the usable life of the radios.  This is a recurring yearly contract between Motorola and the City of Raytown to provide maintenance and infrastructure repairs to the radio system in case of failure.

The Board passed a resolution approving the expenditure of funds with Johnson County Missouri Sheriff’s office in an amount not to exceed $83,500.00 for fiscal year 2016-2017.  On July 1, 2015 the City entered into a contract with Johnson County Missouri Sheriff’s Department to provide housing for our inmates.  The contract will terminate on June 30, 2017.  The Police Department is requesting approval to provide payment of invoices to the Johnson County Missouri Sheriff’s Department for fiscal year 2016 and part of fiscal year 2017.  

The Board passed a resolution approving an agreement with McCoy Towing for tow services in Raytown.  McCoy Tow has been the contract provider for our police-ordered tows, non-preference tows and tows requested by City departments for City-owned vehicles or equipment.  This is for a three-year contract.  On September 22, 2016, an invitation to bid was distributed to solicit request for qualifications (RFQ) for a tow service for the City of Raytown.  On October 25, 2016, McCoy Tow and Caution Tow responded to the bid.  Caution Tow did not meet the basic requirements of the RFQ.  The staff recommends awarding the contract to McCoy Towing based upon their performance history, credit worthiness, ability, and willingness to meet the qualifications outlined in this contract.

The Board passed a resolution approving an agreement with  Mize Houser & Company for the performance of professional audit services for fiscal year 2016-2017 in an amount not to exceed $41,000.00.  On October 19th, the City issued a Request for Proposal for audit services.  Ten audit firms were contacted directly and the request was advertised and placed on the City web site.  The City received five responses, three from the firms directly solicited, and two from unsolicited firms.  After review, staff believes that all of the firms are qualified; however, one of the unsolicited firms is a one person shop and did not have extensive municipal experience or references so they would not be considered.  Of all firms, Mize & Houser had the lowest cost of services, extensive municipal experience, numerous pertinent references, and other reference resources available if needed by City staff.  It is staff’s recommendation that the City enter into an agreement with Mize & Houser for audit services for the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 fiscal years with two additional one-year optional extensions.

The Board passed a resolution approving the termination of the Consolidated Tax Billing and Collection agreement with Jackson County.  Based on the declining revenue and the increasing costs associated with providing this service for the County, it is recommended that we cancel the current agreement.  The agreement with Jackson County allows us to cancel January through May with a 30-day written notice.  The staff is recommending a termination date of January 13, 2017.

The Board passed a resolution approving the expenditure of funds with Delta Sweeping for street sweeping in an amount not to exceed $25,000.00 for fiscal year 2016-2017.  On October 24, 2016 bids were opened for the newly-implemented annual street sweeping contract.  The contract, as shown in the attached Bid Tabulations, at an estimated total of 400 hours, 50 hours of Parking Lot Sweeping, 20 hours of Special Sweepings (for special events), and 10 hours of Emergency/On-Call Sweepings.  The total low bid hourly rate for regular street sweeping activities was $153.00 per hour with a total bid of $73,510.00.  This is in excess of budgeted amounts for street sweeping activities in the storm water fund.  During the November 29, 2016 Work Session, the Board of Aldermen gave direction to staff that street sweeping shall be conducted at the low-bid hourly rate until the budgeted amounts have been reached while staff further investigates alternatives.
The Board then went into closed session.

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Anonymous said...

Where on earth did that last comment come from?!? I have been reading the Raytown Report for a couple of years and it is head and shoulders above the Raytown Times and the Brooking Eagle (is it still being published?)

Paul's reports on City Council meetings are accurate and to the point. I know because I watch the meetings on television and am impressed with how well he keeps to the facts in his stories.

Greg's editorials give us an insight into what is really happening at City Hall. From what I can tell about Randy's paper, city hall news is mainly reprductions of city halls press releases. JOe Creamer's writing is all over the place usually carrying on about anyone who is in office now is bad. Anyone who was in when he was in office had experience.

No thanks Joe! I have read enough of your stuff to know yours is not type of experience Raytown needs or wants.

To Greg and Paul. Keep up the good work. There are plenty of us out there who appreciate your work.

Roger Martindale said...

There are about 100 radio stations in Kansas City. Surely you’re not going to rag on someone who doesn’t listen to the same two stations you do? Instead, why don’t you look at the two newspapers in town? Which one put this as front page news?

Anonymous said...

For all the complaining about city hall and the changes that have occurred, I found out that Mayor Mike hired Tom Cole back after Mahesh left as the Mayor knew what an asset he is. Great choice in moving this city forward

Andy Whiteman said...

Has anyone suggested to Tom Cole that he apply for the City Administrator job? I think he would be an excellence CA!

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone put an ad in either paper? One is priced too high and the other one only prints negative news. Who want to read that?

Anonymous said...

I think he got the job because of his haircut. He fits right in.

Anonymous said...

It's no coincidence that Tom Cole agreed to come back to work at City Hall AFTER Sharma was gone.

Anonymous said...

If anyone remembers correctly, it was Sharma who hired Tom Cole in the first place. The only dig that anyone has on Sharma is that he did not live in Raytown. Tom Cole does not live in Raytown either, so what?

Anonymous said...

I don't know Tom Cole well. But if he is someone who has come back to Raytown, has the qualifications I say give him a chance. Mahesh Sharma is gone. I do not think anyone really misses him. From what I have heard around town most people are glad he is gone.

Anonymous said...

Dec 13, 6:47 PM

The ONLY dig that anyone had with Sharma was that he didn't live in Raytown??? You need to get out more often!!!

Roger Martindale said...

No, the fact that Sharma didn't live in Raytown wasn't the only problem. The problem a lot of people had with him was that he promised repeatedly to move to Raytown. He kept coming up with one excuse after another. He finally came out and said he wouldn't move to this town at all. Period. End of discussion. And, by the way, he was making way less than other CAs around town. The mayor and BOA got in line and goose stepped their way into giving Sharma a new contract that didn't require him to move here and adjusted his salary by $30,000. That and Walmart is why we have tar on our roads instead of asphalt.

Anonymous said...

Make sure that reads the former mayor and board of alderman

Roger Martindale said...

Anonymous 2:34 -

You are correct. I stand corrected and I humbly apologize.

Anonymous said...

They use that same tar road coverage in Overland Park Kansas

Anonymous said...

Yes, they use tar in Overland Park. The difference is the streets in Overland Park that get the tar are in good condition to begin with. If there are cracks in the streets, the crews repair the cracks, then put the tar on the roads. In Raytown, the crews put the tar over the cracks, allowing the cracks to remain and during the cold months, widen.

Anonymous said...

Do we really want to start in on covering all the problems with Sharma?

It seems the only ones who thought he was a god were the same elected officials who allowed Raytown to decline.

We have two more of that old back woods thinking to clear off the board and on is up in Ward 4.

Anonymous said...

You're right. Let's leave Sharma in Iowa, shall we? We were lucky enough to have Mark Loughry get us started on the path of a professional city. If the Board is smart, they'll hire Tom Cole to take his place. That way, we can be assured the improvements will continue. We just have to find a couple of people of the same high caliber as Tom Cole and John Benson. That will make Raytown Great Again!

Roger Martindale said...

If you want to replace the dinosaur in Ward 4, you got to get someone to run against him. I think a young, no-name could beat him. After all, he was the only Republican in the whole state of Missouri to lose the election.

Anonymous said...

As much as Bill Van Buskirk was attached to the previous board and Mayor, if you have followed the progress and leadership changes within the current Board of Alderman and staff he has evolved to work towards the common goals and directives of the entire group. Sure he still maintains some core value beliefs as all politicians possess, but is not near the disruptive and waste of an Alderman seat as is Jim Aziere. I hear people (including his fellow Alderman) comment that Bill is very committed to serving his constituents needs and rarely misses a committee meeting or community event. In my opinion he seems to eagerly fulfill the responsibility to his constituents in Ward 4 from what I hear.

Anonymous said...

Greg, thanks for the link to Wal-Mart from the pitch.