Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting
October 2, 2018

Tony Jacob spoke documentation he has found from Freedom of Information requests on time card and payroll irregularities at City Hall. Most of the examples he gave were found in the Raytown Police Department. He said you can view the documents by going to his website, Real Raytown.

John Ivey spoke about his hope for improved roadway system in eastern Jackson County.

Larry Marks spoke on behalf of senior citizens and those on limited fixed incomes against the ever increasing property tax rates in Raytown. He said Jackson County recently raised its property tax levy by 10%. His fear is that people will be driven out of Raytown by the high taxes, particularly on real estate and personal property.

Mayor McDonough proclaimed October to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Board passed an ordinance amending the recommended sewer rate user fee to provide coverage for necessary operational, capital, treatment and debt expenses. Over the past several years, sewer treatment costs have risen for treatment services provided by Kansas City Missouri and for Little Blue Valley Sewer District provided services. For several years, City staff was able to maintain the City rate through the implementation of numerous cost-saving programs. 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 10% across the board. This will ensure sustainability of the fund. Based on historical increases from KCMO and LBVSD there will be additional increases needed in future years.

The Board passed a resolution approving an amended formal and comprehensive schedule of fees and charges for the sanitary sewer adjustment charges. Consumption rates along with expenses have continued to increase and the City feels that these charges should be updated to reflect the current rates and expenses that the City incurs. These sewer charges are added to the customer’s sewer accounts for the following adjustments: Deposits on New Accounts, Water On/Off due to lack of payment and Contract Setup Fee.

Current Rates            Proposed FY19 Rates
Residential                        $100.00                            $135.00
Commercial                       $100.00                            $300.00 

Water On/Off
Residential                         $25.00                              $25.00
Commercial                        $25.00                              $25.00

Contract Setup Fee
Residential                          No Charges                     $25.00
Commercial                         No Charges                     $50.00

Some accounts such as Commercial, Group Homes, and Multi-Family need to be evaluated by account for deposit amounts to reflect 2X monthly usage.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the city administrator to enter into an agreement with Radmacher Brothers Excavating Company for the 59th street repair project in an amount not to exceed $392,292.The Public Works Department received 3 sealed bids that were opened on Tuesday, August 14 at 2:00 p.m. regarding the 59th Street Repair Project and Radmacher Brothers Excavating Company was the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder with a total bid of $341,123.00 and is being recommended for approval. The base bid was in the amount of $341,123.00. Staff is requesting purchasing authority up to $392,292.00 to accommodate for potential change orders. This is an additional 15% of the total bid cost. Construction inspection services will be performed with City staff.

The Board passed a resolution amending the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget to reallocate various expenditures between designated funds. Throughout the year staff has been monitoring the budget monthly. 

Street Corner Panhandlers
Members of the Kansas City / City Council have recently attracted headlines because of their efforts to crack down on street corner pan-handling.  You will find this lawful “begging” on street corners in almost every city in the metropolitan area. Public begging is usually defended as a First Amendment Right of Free Speech by groups like the ACLU.

You rarely see this form of pan-handling in Raytown.

Do you ever wonder why?

Down Memory Lane . . .
In 1998 I had been re-elected to the Board of Aldermen after a two year absence due to an election I lost in 1996 by three votes (ouch!).

One of the Board’s early agenda items in 1998 was an attempt to regulate soliciting in Raytown. The Board had crafted a rather lengthy ordinance regulating (unsolicited) salespeople calling door to door in Raytown.

A side issue of the ordinance dealt with the much more ticklish problem of people soliciting funds from car drivers on street corners. Just as in Kansas City, we were aware of First Amendment Rights blocking the way to regulate the practice.

I remember pondering some of the nuances of the ordinance as I was drove up to the intersection of Raytown Road and 350 Highway.

The light was red. There was a group about ten people, most of them minors, were darting between cars with buckets asking people for donations.

When the light turned green, I saw a number of those small children scamper between cars to get back to the safety of sidewalk. Some were so young you could barely see them as they passed between larger vehicles.

It was as if a light had been turned on burning away the darkness.

The “soliciting ordinance” was not about First Amendment rights. It was about public safety.

So I went back to the Board with an idea to include a subsection to the ordinance regarding soliciting on the public right of way. Not one to do things halfway, we ended up putting some teeth in the ordinance.

We decided to require prospective solicitors to apply for a permit from City Hall. The application process was free of charge, but did require a background check of the applicant. Adult supervision of children and safety vests were to be worn by street solicitors and that such activity could only be done during daylight hours. (For a complete list of the requirements see the link following this story.)

The Vote on the Ordinance
was not Without Drama
The Raytown Board of Aldermen is made up of ten members. One of the first things you learn is the difficulty of pleasing all ten members at one time.

The final vote on the soliciting ordinance was no exception.

Some Aldermen were picking away at the section covering street corner soliciting. Their target was the requirement of orange safety vests to be worn by solicitors.

In their objections they asked that the city pay for the safety vests. As one of the sponsors of the ordinance I felt the objections would undercut the underlying purpose of the bill.

While this discussion was going on Sue Frank entered the Council Chamber and threw down a stack of two dozen safety vests.

She had been watching the meeting on television at home and saw what was going on. She jumped in her car, drove up to Walmart, and bought all the vests they had.

Smiling at the members of the Board Ms. Frank said, “Here are your vests. Now you can vote.”

The ordinance passed unanimously.

If the Council meeting were a baseball game it would, have been appropriate for members of the Board to “tip their hat” to the future Mayor for her surprise visit to the Council Chambers that night.

Politics and politicians are often viewed in a bad light. As this story illustrates, “politics” is the art of finding solutions to problems facing each and every one of us.

By working together the Board of Aldermen was able to forge an ordinance that addressed a problem so well, that street corner soliciting on Raytown streets is a rare event.

The soliciting ordinance has been amended once to shift the responsibility of background checks from the Raytown Police Department to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Other than that change, the soliciting ordinance has withstood the test of time. It remains as it was written nearly 20 years ago.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The events of this story took place before Sue Frank ran for public office. Sue and I were sometimes political opponents, sometimes political allies. I remember one conversation she and I had after she had finished her term in office. I told her she had been difficult to work with at times during her two term(s) as Mayor. She leveled her stare at me and said, “Greg, you gave as good as you got.”  Guess it just goes to show how politics can blur perception.
Use this link to view SOLICITATION ORDINANCE


Anonymous said...

All these murders in Raytown in the last week or so.

This remark isn't even remotely meant to cut down the city, but is merely expressed in hopes that we pray for each and every victim and their families.

Much love and compassion...

Anonymous said...

Is the City going after the utility company who made a mess of Sterling going North? What a washboard job they did by resurfacing patches instead of a smooth complete resurfacing. What a bumpy ride!

elisa breitenbach said...

Raytown has some of the most amazing people that I have ever had the pleasure to know. This Tuesday night will be a very important night for the city of Raytown. The Board of Alderman will be deciding what they should do about the budget also what to do about the 350 TIF. Those that truly care about Raytown should make this meeting. I know that I am going to do my best to try and make this meeting myself.
The last meeting I attended was very disturbing when the Raytown Ambulance Service was formally handed over to the Fire District with out any input from anyone from the Raytown Ambulance Services. These people have worked in our city for many years. Some of them live right here. To watch then all be treated so coldly was shocking to me. I find it hard to believe this will save the people of Raytown money. To top it all off in order for it to all go through the voters must vote on this yet the board just gave them all their walking papers with out the voters blessing. The Kansas City Star said we had financial mismanagement and a lack of accountability. Now we are going to watch them spend one brief meeting talking about the Raytown budget and how they are going to refinance the very worst TIF the state of Mo. has ever seen. Again it looks like it will be another very disturbing meeting. Hope to see a room full of people who care. Thank You! Elisa Breitenbach

Anonymous said...

What part of sterling?

Anonymous said...

The tiff needs to be refinanced if possible. What did you reasonably expect was going to happen? The needs are great and the resources are not. So yes, things are going to be reorganized and tough decisions are going to be made. But this is what you advocated for and some tried to prevent. Elections have consequences and you had a hand in it. Worry about Independence please.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Elisa wants to love our town right in to bankruptcy. Always complaints never solutions.

Anonymous said...

After seeing almost 1350 ambulance transport and service calls since 2014 being handled by an outside provider KCFD, it was past time to explore better and more efficient emergency medical service options for the citizens of Raytown. To at some point to have 3 ambulances FULLY staffed at locations scattered both north and south in Raytown will obviously mean a much improved service call response time for our citizens than waiting for KCFD to be dispatched and then make the drive into Raytown. Also Chief Matt Mace and the Fire Board have actually modified the transistion path to join the Fire Division from the EMS ranks and it is my understanding several EMS personnel are exploring that outstanding opportunity. I say thank you to all concerned who put forth the time, energy, and effort to craft a much improved service plan that will assist our citizen’s in a time where time and experience will be crucial.