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Letter to the editor from former Alderman Joe Creamer

As many of you may know, it recently came out that 7 of our 10 Alderman have taken part in secret meetings with the Fire District. The content of these meetings is still a mystery as The Disgraceful 7 will not discuss it with staff or you, their constituents. That is precisely the reason they are being investigated by the Missouri Attorney General’s office. Congratulations to the three Alderman( Steve Mock, Bill VanBuskirk and Jim Aziere) for not being part of this group.

I addressed the board through public comment at the last  regularly scheduled meeting and let them know of what I thought and warned if they used their position to try to intimidate me I refuse to back down. So, with that I am going to tell you about my next story.

As many of you know I served 8 years on The Board of Alderman representing Ward 1 but am not currently in an elected capacity. I spent 8 years working with staff and other Alderman to try to make Raytown a better place. I found the staff at City Hall when I had questions in regards to any question I had with anything involving the community. I have set back as I am no longer an Alderman and observed the new board as they lead the community. This is where I want to take things a new direction.

I have had many conversations with people to the every day workings at City Hall and they have brought up to some disturbing revelations into the way the board is working with the professional staff at City hall. The ringleader of the disturbing treatment of staff would be the one and only Jason Greene; he believes that gotcha moments and the use of his henchmen is the way to work with staff. He uses Steve Meyers and Mark Moore to intimidate whomever is around that might disagree, whether it be staff or other Alderman. All of this while your Mayor Mike McDonough sits at City Hall for the entire day every day.

The treatment of staff is so bad that a friend confided in me that they were talking to an employee of City Hall and this person started crying because of the treatment they had seen staff members receive from the 3 listed above. I find that disgraceful! Now there are those that would argue the job of the Alderman is to ensure that staff perform to their highest level possible and that would be correct. However, if you condone the kind of activity at City Hall, put yourself in the position of the employees there. I know of nobody that wants to be in a position where they don’t know where the next attack is coming from.

These elected officials are supposed to be the leaders of our fine community but where is the leadership in idly standing by and watching the mistreatment of other human beings. I believe that Mike McDonough is a very good person but is being pulled by a faction of very selfish people who want to impose their will on the good people of Raytown. I call on our Mayor to stand up and show us the leadership we elected him for.

As a side note I have filed a complaint on all of the Disgraceful 7 with the Missouri Ethics Commission to let them determine if there is any wrong doing. There has been analysis from other news sources in regards to the matter but they are not the experts.

Letter from the Mayor about WallMart TIF

Beginning several months prior and throughout the last two weeks, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the Raytown Live TIF District on 350 Highway including the obligation of the Fire District in regards to the project and the TIF’s success and long term viability.  Passed unanimously in March of 2005 by the Board of Alderman in place at that time, there was great hope for the TIF then.

While many TIF districts across the state and the nation implemented in the last 10 years have failed or are struggling, the Raytown Live TIF District is still progressing. No one could have predicted the economic downturn that followed the approval of the TIF, and admittedly it has been slower in growth than projected. However, at no time since the TIF’s inception has the City missed a payment or required additional input from any entity outside the original agreement.

Through a review of audited numbers and future projections, the City is optimistic that the District will continue to meet the necessary revenue requirements for the life of the debt. The City has made no additional funding requests of any other taxing entities outside the original agreement.

Some of the reasons for the City’s optimism in being able to continue to meet debt requirements on the TIF are as follows:

  • The city of Raytown currently has no General Obligation debt. Standard & Poor, who are paid to review and rate debt issuances, issued the city an A+/Stable rating in September of 2015.
  • To date, no additional funds outside of original pledges have been spent out of the City’s General Fund for the TIF.
  • Current TIF reserves are sound. The TIF fund started out with 3.8 million, and it has now grown to over 4 million dollars.
  • The City of Raytown is working to help fulfill the TIF’s original promise in attracting business and residents to the area.

While many current Aldermen and the current Mayor were not a part of voting for the TIF, moving forward, they are looking for a strategy to deal with any burden to the budget IF—and only IF—it becomes necessary.  Their goal is for the City and all its entities to remain solvent and to maintain a budget that does not adversely affect services. They are working hard to safeguard taxpayer money.

In 2007 the Fire District entered into an agreement with the City to participate fully with the other taxing entities on Project Area #1, which includes Wal-Mart. State statutes govern the remaining participation. The Fire District has since asked the City to release it from the Project Area #1 agreement retroactively, but the City has a duty to protect the bond holders and the taxpayers of Raytown and cannot allow that change 8 years later.

Per State Statute the Fire District was required to participate in Project Area #2; however, the Fire District has requested to not participate at all in this area. Missouri State Statute 99.848 allows for any district providing emergency services to request at least 50% but not more than 100% of that district’s tax increment to be refunded.

Until November of 2014 the Fire District had not previously asserted its claim for consideration by the City. While not required to honor this request retroactively, the City did calculate the amount of refund the District would be owed since the activation of Project Area #2. The City subsequently applied that refund amount of $8,096.32 to the amount owed the City by Raytown Fire.

Going forward the City will work with the Fire District to formalize their request as required by law and apply the 50% refund amount considered and presented to Raytown Fire on numerous occasions during the initial implementation of the TIF District.

“I am dedicated to moving this city forward and to monitoring this TIF District just as we monitor all parts of our budget and spending,” Raytown Mayor Mike McDonough said.

“Granted the TIF may not have been productive as those who supported it hoped, but we have to deal with it and it is still progressing.”


Click HERE for a PDF file from  Standard & Poor dated Sept. 2015 concerning this matter.

Controversy over Raytown Wall Mart and taxes makes the local TV News

Thanks to local channel 41 for providing the code to link to their segment on this matter.

RaytownOnline met with Chief Mace on this matter and he present documentation supporting his position that was inches thick. We are still waiting for digital copies from the Fire District to analyze, as an hour meeting was not enough given the depth of the material.  I hope to provide links to the material and supporting State documents for reader when it becomes available.

 

Board of Aldermen Meeting on April 19, 2016

I have had a couple of phone calls asking if I had any video from the April 19th 2016 meeting. They both indicated that they were not able to see it live and not able to find it on the city website. The video is available at City Hall so without editorial comment, here is the link to that video.

Click HERE to go to the Raytown City Hall location of the video.

CITY OF RAYTOWN ANNOUNCES THREE NEW BUSINESSES TO OPEN IN LATE SUMMER

City of Raytown and RH Johnson Company announce three new businesses coming to Raytown. AT&T is scheduled to open at 350 Highway and Gregory in late July. Great Clips and Dominos are scheduled for an early August opening.

RH Johnson Company is the owner and developer of the property. The property was formerly a mattress company but before that was a gas station. The property had to have some environmental work done because of the later owner before it could be developed. That work was completed and work to get a building for tenants was begun.

“We are pleased that these three organizations are coming to our city.”  said Tom Cole, Economic Development Administrator. “We continue to build the strength of 350 Highway with a good assortment of businesses.”

Dominos has become more than a pizza restaurant. The new store design aims to put pizza front and center with a “Pizza Theater” format that will have pizza-making artists’ hand tossing dough and creating custom-made pies in front of seated guests.  Their new menu also offers sandwiches, pastas, chicken wings, desserts and other appetizers.

Great Clips, a Minneapolis-based haircare company is the world’s largest salon brand creating more than 80 million haircuts each year. The salons are locally owned and operated. Great Clips offers many services and are open evenings and weekends. For convenience they also offer online check in.

AT&T mission is to connect people with their world. They provide products and services to make this happen.

Live From Raytown’s Board Chambers

cityofraytownResidents can now keep up with the Raytown Board of Aldermen meetings and Raytown Planning and Zoning Commission meetings from the comfort of their homes via the Internet. The City has entered into an agreement with Swagit Productions, LLC to provide live streaming video of the meetings mentioned above. Thanks to the new technology, meetings are available live through any computer, tablet or smart phone.

Residents have consistently asked for more access to live meetings. We believe streaming will help us reach more residents, business owners and others interested in Raytown.

One reason we chose Swagit Productions is because they are the leading provider of hosted audio/video streaming services for many other cities and government agencies. Swagit’s Extensible Automated Streaming Engine (EASE) solution is designed to provide the City with a full service streaming media framework that reduces the need for extra staff.

Meetings will run live on the City’s website, www.raytown.mo.us as well as continue to run on the City’s Cable Access Channel 7 from Comcast. The June 2, 2015 Board meeting was filmed as a test run and can be currently viewed on the City’s website.

“The test run went well and the system appears to be working fine,” said Brenda Gustafson, Public Information Officer for the City. “The City has been looking for a solution to increasing public access to the live proceedings. This seems to be a good cost-effective solution.”

Board meeting videos will be archived on the City’s website, allowing residents to view previous meetings. We will consider adding other meetings and events in the future.

“And, the neat thing is that the videos are indexed,” Gustafson said. “People can look at the agendas, which are posted online and go to the specific agenda item they’re interested in on the video.”

Previously, the meetings were filmed separately from the live broadcast on Channel 7. The film disc then had to be converted by the Information Technology Department which took a couple of days and then uploaded on YouTube by the Public Affairs staff. The meetings were not available to everyone until several days after the meeting. With this service meetings are available live and then uploaded automatically onto our Website for immediate access.


The June 2nd meeting can be viewed HERE

 

The Political Promise of a Free Lunch

In the recent city election, a few of the candidates relied on the age-old political tactic of “promising a free lunch” when discussing the need for street repairs in Raytown.  Most reasonable people would agree that we need safe streets that are free from potholes, and curbs and sidewalks in many of our neighborhoods. To be fair, the candidates didn’t say anything actually would be free, they just failed to mention the potential financial cost of their promises. Then again, they didn’t actually promise anything specifically, they just complained about the status quo for the most part. The target of their complaint is the use of light-weight aggregate instead of mill and overlay in street repair.

Not very exciting, but please stick with me and keep reading to get the facts. Yes, mill and overlay makes a nicer surface and last 50% longer, but that process costs more than 3 times as much as aggregate.  This is a simple allocation-of-resources problem.  If you have $15 and 5 kids, you can buy one of them a steak and four of them go without dinner, or you can feed all five a hamburger.  

In the past 5 years, the city has fixed 110 lane miles of streets using a combination of the two methods. If only mill and overlay was used, that number would have been 63 lane miles. To have completed the entire 110 miles with the more expensive method, taxes would have to be raised, or other programs would have to be cut. There is no free lunch. 

The city spends about $830,000 a year on streets. To do all mill & overlay would cost almost a million dollars more. So the next time politicians promise steak instead of hamburger, they need to also tell us where the money will come from. 

At the request of RaytownOnline, the City of Raytown supplied the cost data on paving,  some of which appears below.


Street Maintenance Program Costs

The City of Raytown maintains 331 lane miles. We use the transportation sales tax and some City revenue to pay to upkeep our streets. Over the last five (5) years the City has spent $833,600 per year for this service. These costs also include sidewalk and curb repair, striping as well as handicap ramps which is a federal law requirement under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). We have to be in compliance with this law.

To understand the numbers you need to know how the Public Works Department determines costs. A lane mile is a unit of measurement used by Public Works Departments for determining progress of maintenance programs.  One lane mile is the width of one lane (12 feet) by one mile (5,280 feet). If you have a two lane street then that would be two lane miles. A turn lane also counts as a lane mile.

The two tools the City of Raytown uses are Light Weight Aggregate Seal and Mill and Overlay. The cost per lane mile and life cycle of each tool is:

Cost per Lane Mile              Life/Treatment

Light Weight Aggregate                $21,542/Lane Mile             7 to 10 years

Mill and Overlay                          $66,176/Lane Mile             10 to 15 years

In the last five years, we have been able to complete Light Weight Aggregate on 70 lane miles and Mill and Overlay on 40 miles, in total 110 lane miles have been treated, or 33% of all the roads in Raytown using both tools. It is prudent to use the most appropriate tool at the proper time.  Using the Light Weight Aggregate treatment stretches the life of the street and allows us to keep our roads in a manageable condition.

ELECTION RESULTS FOR 2015 FOR THE Raytown School District

The top two candidates have been elected.

Candidate votes Raytown KC
AMY BETH TITTLE 3129 2113 1016
KRISTIE LYNN COLLINS-DELARBER 2817 1818 999
THOMAS GRANGER ESTLUND 1920 1358 562

Election Results for 2015 for the City of Raytown

Mayor Total Percent
MICHAEL MCDONOUGH* 2002 57.78%
PAT ERTZ 1513 42.91%
 Alderman Ward 1
 KAREN BLACK*   244   37.77%
 GREG WALTERS  225  34.83%
 JOE CREAMER   176  27.24%
 Alderman Ward 2
 JIM AZIERE*   447  52.90%
  STEVE GUENTHER   276  32.66%
  CHRIS RATHBONE  121  14.32%
 Alderman Ward 3
 MARK MOORE*   277  46.40%
 RYAN MYERS  264  44.22%
 STERLING L. BROWN   54   9.05%
 Alderman Ward 4
 STEVE MEYERS*   411  52.36%
  MARY JANE VAN BUSKIRK  373   47.52%
 Alderman Ward 5
 ERIC TEEMAN*  353   58.35%
 BARRY PARK  248  40.99%
 The Charter
 NO*   1903  55.32%
YES  1537  44.68%

 

 

RaytownOnline.com Endorses Pat Ertz for Mayor

ertzRaytownOnline.com endorses Pat Ertz for Mayor.

While his opponents service to the Raytown Police Department since the 1970’s is laudable, it does not come close to Ertz’s experience as an Aldermen and as a manager in both the private and the public sector.

Ertz has shown 8 years of steady political leadership for Raytown and we need that experience at the helm.

His polite and friendly nature is an added bonus, but in truth his opponent also shares those qualities.

City Election Endorsements and a copy of the proposed Charter

Ward 1 Joe Creamer

Ward 2 Jim Aziere

Ward 3 Ryan Myers

Ward 4 & 5  No Endorsement

The Charter Vote NO

This is the worst of the last three charters presented to the voters of Raytown.  The previous charter was flawed with conflict and inconsistencies within it. The Charter before that attempted too many changes and was probably rejected by voters unwilling to make that great a leap into the unknown.

The proposed Charter would take us from a weak Mayor to a ceremonial Mayor.  The Mayors power would be to Chair the Board meeting and cut ribbons.

It would transfer power from the Parks Board into the hands of the Alderman and it would set the qualification requirements for Police Chief to vague standards that very well could result in litigation between candidates over whether those standards are met.  All decisions could be reviewed by the Board of Aldermen if just 3 Aldermen agree. Hiring and salary of the Parks Director us a decision made by the Aldermen

The Parks and Recreation Director may be removed from office by a majority vote of the Board of Aldermen and shall serve at their pleasure.

We would have a Parks Director with two masters, but one that can fire him.  Part of the reasoning for having an independant Parks Board with money we voted to have them use for the Parks alone, was to separate it from politics.  If the Aldermen can hire, fire and set the salary of the Parks Director, then there is no separation from politics.

Here is a small sample of from the section on Chief of Police that runs from page 12 to page 16.

Candidates for the Chief of Police shall also possess:

1) considerable knowledge of the principles of modern police administration and police methods;

2) considerable knowledge of the principles and accepted good practices and procedures as applied to patrol, traffic control, criminal investigation, and crime prevention;

What constitutes considerable knowledge and who determines if a candidate possesses that knowledge? Do they get to take a test? Does a Police Chief actually have to be able to wear every hat in the department, to oversee the department? Is there someone in the Police Department that meets these qualifications and are these qualifications tailored to insure he runs unopposed?

While the City Administrator must live in the City, the Municipal Judge is not required to live in Raytown and can actually serve as a Judge for other communities.

c) Qualifications for Office; Outside Employment. The Municipal Judge shall possess and maintain the following qualifications before and after taking office:

i. Must be a licensed attorney, qualified to practice law within the State of Missouri, and shall have been engaged in active practice of law in the State of Missouri for at least three (3) years immediately preceding election.

ii. Need not reside within the City.

iii. Must be a resident of the State of Missouri and have resided in the State for one (1) year immediately preceding election.

iv. May serve as Municipal Judge for any other municipality.

 

Click Below to download a complete copy of the Proposed City Charter

CityOfRaytownCharter

Raytown Election 2015 – Just Say No – Follow the Money (part 3)

The opposition to the Charter group has filed with the Jackson County Election Board under the name Committee for Professional Government. The named treasurer is Shirley Wittman. Under itemized expenditures is $891.68 for yard signs. Contributions names one donor giving $500 and $799 in donations of under $100. The total comes to $1299.00.

Click HERE to download a PDF of the filed document.

Raytown Election 2015 – Politics in Ski Masks – Follow the Money (part 2)

The Charter is getting support in the form of Signs and post cards from a group called “Raytown Community Alliance.” Inquires to the Jackson County Election Board resulted in a referral to the Missouri Ethics Commission. The Commission website did yield some information.

Address 10014 E 63rd St.  Raytown, Mo. 64133 Phone (816) 225-xxxx (the address is also the address of former Mayor Sue Franks insurance company and the phone number that I did not fully list is Ms. Frank’s cell phone)

The only other information on the Ethics Commission’s web site is a single non-committee expenditure report that shows $972.00 for yard signs and $1226.18 for a mailer. There was nothing about where the money came from. A recent article in the Raytown Eagle seemed to indicate that this group claimed to not be a campaign committee and therefore was not required to file disclosure reports. Well the group did file an expenditure report, they just did not file a contributor report.  http://mec.mo.gov/Scanned/PDF/2015/111374.pdf

The bottom line is that it does not matter if a group can legally hide where their money comes from, if they hide it, they are not to be trusted. They are like a politician coming to your door wearing a ski mask.

Next who is behind the NO-Charter campaign

Blighted property now has two new energy efficient homes

Congressman Cleaver was present for the ribbon cutting and open house for two new homes in Raytown. The land previously contained two lots that the City had considered blighted. The new homes were constructed by Builders Development Corporation (BDC) and funding was provided through a Neighborhood Stabilization Program 3 (NSP#) grant the City of Raytown received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. There are no local funds required by the City to participate in the program.

Using the NSP grant funding Builders Development Corporation purchases vacant and foreclosed properties to renovate or reconstruct on the properties and then sells the homes to qualified families. The program is part of the American Recover and Reinvestment Act also known as the Recovery Act was enacted to create jobs and promote invest and consumer spending during the recession. The monies made go back into the program to purchase more properties to further stimulate growth in the City and revitalization of a neighborhood.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II – Missouri’s Fifth District, said “It is so satisfying to see homes built that will provide this neighborhood a new sense of excitement while also providing needed jobs to make the homes a reality. These homes will breath new life into this neighborhood turning blight into beauty and houses into hope.”

The BDC is also in the process of renovating a home that had been abandoned at 85th & Elm and is currently identifying other properties to acquire/reconstruct in Raytown.

 

 

burned_out_house_1024

Before

fixed house 2

After

hedges kitchen


The Kitchen

 

hedges cleaver and aldermen

Congressman Cleaver flanked by four members of the Raytown Booard of Aldermen

hedges cutting the ribbon

Alderman Melson cuts the ribbon

 

 

Consultant faults charter & denies endorsement

This article originally ran in the Raytown Times and is reprinted here with their permission


The proposed City Charter has several policy issues that could become problematic for the city. particularly in the working relationships between the Mayor, Board of Aldermen and the City Administrator, Gary Markenson, former executive director of the Missouri Municipal League and now a consultant to cities. said yesterday (Tuesday, March 3 1).

At the Charter Commission’s request, Markenson met with the commissioners early on as they sought advice on charter preparation. After the draft was printed, Commission Chairman Sieve Guenther provided Markenson a copy of the charter and asked him to review it and provide an endorsement. Markenson said he could not endorse it and pointed out to Guenther several key problems.

The Charter has essentially gutted the position of Mayor, stripping the office of all administrative duties and leaving the mayor to handle ceremonial duties, Markenson noted. It also presents a wall between the Mayor and the City Administrator, placing more power with the Board of Aldermen.

The Charter states: ‘The Mayor shall be recognized as head of the City government for all legal and ceremonial purposes;  shall have no administrative duties beyond serving as Board of Aldermen Chairman.”

The Charter also provides for an elected Municipal Judge. but states that the judge, “Need not reside within the City.”

” I don ‘I know of any city in this state that allows an elected official to live outside the city.” Markenson said. ” It seems inconsistent to require the City Administrator to live within the city when an elected judge is not required to.”

Markenson noted that the Charter specifies that “the Park Board may make and adopt such bylaws, rules, and regulations for the guidance and for the operation of the parks. Such rules shall be  adopted into the City code or ordinances upon approval by the Board of Aldermen.”

“Does that mean the city has to rule on every little rule and regulation the Park Board comes up with?” he asked rhetorically.  “It seems that could cause major conflict between the Park
Board and Aldermen. It paves the way for conflict.”

Markenson pointed out several other faults. but praised the Charter Commissioners for their diligence in preparing the document. “They worked really hard,” he said.

 


That concludes the Raytown Times article.  Below is video of Markenson’s presentation at the second Charter Commission meeting.

RAYTOWN MAYORAL CANDIDATE FORUM Video

Raytown Election 2015 – Follow the Money (part 1)

dollar_risingThe race for Mayor of Raytown is turning out to be the biggest in terms of cash contributions ever.  Alderman Ertz has raised a respectable $5,533.33 and given the amount of time left from that filling to election day, should hit the normal well financed range of $6,000 to $8,000. Retired police Sergeant McDonough has raised a whopping $16,260.00 and has already set a new record for contributions.

Analysis of the named cash contributor based on their stated address shows that Ertz got 81.48% of his contributions from Raytown and the average contribution level was $270,  McDonough got 55.48% of his contributions from Raytown and his average donation was $630.83.  This is an incomplete picture as a large portion of McDonough’s contributions were in-kind donations and a large portion of Ertz’s donations were raised at fundraising events where small donations to not have to be itemized.

Click HERE to download a pdf scan of the Ertz filings with the Ethics Commission that this article is based on and click HERE to download the McDonough filings.

Candidate Thomas Estlund for Raytown School Board

estlund

Get To Know Thomas Estlund

The New Man Running In The Raytown School Board Election

At first glance, the long beard of Thomas Estlund may make you take a second glance.  But after just a few words, you find that the man behind this beard is a fatherly-figure, wise beyond his years.  Thomas Estlund is running for his first term on the Board of Education for Raytown Schools.  Estlund and wife, Bibi, have chosen to make Raytown their permanent home.  They have 4 small children that will attend Raytown Schools, so Estlund has a vested interest in improving the educational experience of all Raytown students.

Estlund has been an upper elementary school teacher in the Greater Kansas City area since graduating from Truman State University in Kirksville with a Bachelors in English, and his Master’s in Education.  Estlund’s experience in education includes being named Team Leader and Mentor Teacher, as well as speaking at state and national conferences.

Prior to his current position as a 4th grade teacher at Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology in Kansas City, Estlund taught 5th grade for three years and 1st grade for a year in Raytown.  In addition he taught in Kirksville for five years after graduation.  Corina Mann, parent of one of Estlund’s Raytown students said, “I found Mr. Estlund to be exciting and engaging.  He enjoys opening young minds to new experiences and encourages students to explore and question the world around them.”

New experiences that could be explored if Estlund is elected include a stronger sense of community.  Estlund plans to propose activities such as opening the gym for community use for an evening.  Another is allowing area residents to make use of the computer labs in our schools.  Estlund states, “The unfortunate consequence of streamlining processes within the social services of our government, is that those without computer access are left without the ability to communicate with those that can assist them.  Computers that are unused more than half of our typical daylight hours should open previously untapped opportunities to those that pay the taxes to provide them.”

Estlund’s first priority in office would be digging into district requirements regarding preparation for tests.  He would like to evaluate and then limit the amount of time dedicated to mandatory assessment preparation.  His experience in the classroom has taught him that a teacher who can focus time on building relationships with students and invests in instruction has the most success engaging the students.

The differences in the population of Raytown demand that teachers be culturally responsive in order to address the needs of each student on an individual basis.  Estlund is a lifelong learner and believes that teachers who lack cultural skills should be provided with the training needed to become the best teacher they can be.

Estlund fears that, “In our nation, as a whole, schools are becoming places where students are stifled, creativity is limited and there is no time for students to try things out with the freedom to be unsuccessful their first time.”  Thomas Edison is well known for believing that failure is a necessary part of learning, although he may not be the author of the following quote on the subject, it still rings true.  “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Estlund is certain that childhood is the time to learn lessons like these that shape who an individual becomes.

Mann also has this to say about Estlund’s run at the school board election, “He has a unique way of addressing an issue so that it can be viewed from multiple positions which encourages thoughtful discussion. As a teacher, Mr. Estlund has experienced firsthand the successes and challenges of our school district and I believe that he will use the knowledge gained from those experiences to bridge the gap between the classroom and the board room.”

The quintessential educator, Estlund is known for using Facebook to assign essays to his friends.  He feels that “the district should also be using the very latest in technology and social media to communicate with Raytown.”  You can check into Estlund’s Facebook page, Estlund for Raytown School Board, to learn more about him and his plans for the Raytown School District.

Mayorial Candidates closing remarks

The Raytown PTA held a forum for the School Board Candidates and the candidates for Mayor on Friday, March 27th at Southwood Elementary School.

Here is a video of the closing remarks by both candidates for Mayor.

Letter to the Editor from Charlotte Melson

Dear Editor,

Having made the decision not to run again for Raytown Alderman of Ward 3, I wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the support I have received the past 16 years.  I have thoroughly enjoyed and been honored to represent the residents of Ward 3 and the City of Raytown.  I have learned so much from Raytown residents and City staff on some many issues and topics and appreciate the time taken to answers all of my questions. I sincerely appreciate all those who have contacted me over the years with their gratitude or issues that needed resolve.

My hope when I started my first term in 1999 was to make a difference.  It was with that determination that I made sure that I read every piece of information that came before me, prepared for each meeting with my highlighters, sticky notes and asked the questions that would get to the core of the issue and thus having the information available for me to make for the best decision for our community.

In this upcoming election, I would like to express my support for Ryan Myers who is running for Ward 3 Alderman as he grew up in Raytown and returned as a young professional to make Raytown his home.  His expertise in economics and real estate will be a welcomed addition to the Board of Aldermen and his enthusiasm contagious.

I also support Pat Ertz and his bid for Raytown Mayor.  Pat has not only the expertise but also the leadership and experience which will benefit our city in the coming months and assist to continue the progress in the opportunities that are coming our way.  I have seen Pat’s dedication on the Board of Aldermen since 2007 and in many organizations such as the Raytown Chamber of Commerce and Raytown Summer Lunch Ministry Board. Pat is a very devoted and involved member of our community.

Lastly, I was honored to be elected to serve on the Raytown Charter Commission, as I wanted to make sure the commission followed the rules and maintained a reasonable budget.  After 10 months of work, I could not sign my name to the final document as I felt that it did not ‘mirror’ the current city government and will cause extensive expenses if passed.  It is not the clear, concise document I hoped would be finalized.  I would ask all the voters to read it very carefully as confusion will be prevalent in any attempt to put it in reality.

The City of Raytown has certainly changed over the past 16 years and I sincerely appreciated the opportunity I had to serve as a representative for our great community.

I have trust in the voters of Raytown and know they will make the right decision so that we can continue the progress that has been made and continue forth in the great opportunities we have on the horizon.

Charlotte Melson

Raytown Mayoral Candidate Forum and Alderman Candidates Meet & Greet -tommorrow

The Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce will co-sponsor with the League of Women Voters of Kansas City/Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties, a Mayoral Candidate Forum and a Raytown Alderman Candidate Meet and Greet.

The Forum and Meet and Greet will be held at Raytown City Hall in the Council Chambers on March 31, 2015 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm.

The Mayoral Candidate Forum will be first on the agenda running from 6:30 to 7:15 pm. Each Mayoral Candidate will answer questions submitted in writing from the audience and will also give a closing statement

In the Meet and Greet, each alderman candidate will have five minutes to introduce him or herself and then answer this question: What would you like to achieve in a 4 year term as an Alderman for the City of Raytown? Candidates will be called up by ward and placement on the ballot. Following the presentations, the audience is invited to meet the candidates individually.

The forum is free and open to the public. We encourage you to attend and take this opportunity to become an educated voter.

Questions? Contact Vicki Turnbow, Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce at 816-353-8500.

CANDIDATE FOR WARD 2 ALDERMAN— Jim Aziere

Alderman Jim Aziere

Alderman Jim Aziere

B.S. in Ed from Central Missouri State University

M.S. in Ed from the University of Kansas

Social Studies Teacher at Raytown High School for 30 Years

Head District Boys Swimming Coach for Raytown Schools

16 Years as an Alderman for the City of Raytown

Jim has been at the center of the Board of Alderman during a time when the Board ended a long period of fighting and ineffective policies. During the past eight years the old First Baptist Church was town down, and we have seen remarkable economic redevelopment in downtown and 350 Highway. Bridges have been rebuilt, snow removal has become excellent, and the law suits that we experienced during the previous administrations disappeared.

Represents continuity on the Board if a huge change takes place on April 7.
He has worked hard to revitalize the City of Raytown by launching an, effort to bring a new brewery to Raytown, and established a committee to build a community center.

Jim focuses hard on meeting the needs of his constituents in Ward 2. While many of the Alderman have put business interest first, Jim stays in touch with citizens. He knows the people want a nice restraint, a lower crime rate, a smoke free environment in public establishments, and a new community center. His leadership can make those things possible.

The Raytown Times response to Police Chief Lynch’s Letter to the Editor

Recently Police Chief Lynch submitted a letter to RaytownOnline.com. It met our standards and was published. In some ways it was cryptic, as it was in response to an article in the Raytown Times, that was not published on RaytownOnline.com.  The Raytown Times has given permission to reprint their piece on the matter of the Raytown Police Pension Fund. 


 

Raytown is indebted to the Police Pension Fund to the tune of $7.5 million and it could be 20 to 30 years, or more, before that debt is retired, depending on market fluctuations.

A third party hired by the Police Pension Board indicated the fund would have to show a 20 percent return annually to be fully funded, leading city officials to believe that the fund could no longer be sustained. Police Chief Jim Lynch disagreed with that assumption, holding that stock market gains would grow assets and require less contribution from the city.

In January 2014 the Board of Aldermen moved all current sworn officers of the police department into the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS) with other city employees. Officers who were vested with at least 10 years of service at the time of the change will continue to draw part of their pensions from the Police Pension Fund and part from LAGERS. The change will have no affect on retired officers, or widows, already drawing pensions.

The Police Pension Fund has been in existence since 1966. The city’s contribution to the fund grew through the years and remained 100 percent funded until 2000. The unfunded liability grew from about $74,000 in 2000 to more than 3.3 million in 2005. It ballooned to $7.5 million by 2014. In that six-year period, 2000-2005, the city ‘s contribution to the fund rose from $110,000 annually, or 6.7 percent of payroll, to nearly $420,000, or 17.8 percent of payroll. By December 2010 the city’s contribution to the pension fund grew to $747,643, or 25.1 percent of payroll, and city officials became worried about its sustainability.

Police officers contributed 3 percent of their pay to the pension fund up until 1999. The Board of Aldermen ended the practice that year, prompted by new rules from the Internal Revenue Service that prevented pension funds from piling up surpluses.

In 2004, a study showed that Raytown police salaries were the lowest of all surrounding departments and a 5.5 percent salary adjustment was enacted. For the next six years the salaries were raised annually by 5.5 percent, thus annually increasing the city’s contribution to police pensions. Those increases put the department into a competitive position among suburban departments.

There is discrepancy in how those raises were enacted, however. Lynch maintains the pay plan was approved by the Board of Aldermen in 2004. Approval by the city could not be found in city records.

The stock market collapse in 2008 immediately reduced the pension fund assets by $1.5 million, thus increasing the city’s contributions even more. Facing a budget bind, the city froze all city employee salaries in 2009, bringing an end to the annual 5.5 percent increases for police. All employees received a 3 percent increase in November 20 14, the first since the recession hit.

Normal retirement for police officers is 55 years of age with 20 years of service. The police department provided the Times a spread sheet showing a range of retiree pensions and the percentages of their pay at the time of retirement. Pension amounts range from $14,376 annually (22 percent of final compensation) to $79,800 (112 percent of final compensation). The lowest was a patrolman who retired early at the age of 46; the highest was a sergeant who worked nine years beyond his retirement age of 55. Pension benefits grow substantially when officers work over 20 years and past the age of 55.

In summary, city leaders felt strongly that the Police Pension Fund could not be sustained while police officials believed it could with improving market conditions. The two sides finally agreed to move police officers to the LAGERS plan, but philosophical differences between the two remain. It is important to realize that during the period from 2000 to 2014, the political landscape changed with new administrators and new elected leaders. All were factors in creating “The Perfect Storm” of controversy over the Police Pension Fund.

Mayor Candidate Pat Ertz at Lutfi’s today

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Parks Board meeting turns heated

The Raytown Parks and Recreation Board meeting was less than calm on Monday night. Steve Guenther and Jason Greene attended the meeting to discuss the proposed Charter for Raytown.  Parks Board members were not happy to find out that under the proposed Charter, they would no longer have the same control over hiring, salaries, and facilities use.  Judge Michael Hannah is reported to have ask Jason Greene, what did we ever do to make them write a charter like this.  Alderman Greene did not or was not able to answer that question.

From Alderman Aziere who was at the meeting…

I attended the Raytown Park Board Meeting last night because they had questions about the proposed charter and the section on the Park Department.  They did not understand why the Park Board had not been personally invited to the meetings when changes in the Park Department were being discussed.

Discussions involving the Park Department requires that the Board of Alderman inform the Park Director.  The Charter Commission did not do that.

Jason Green wrote the section on the Park Department. He was questioned why the Park Department was not informed or invited.  literally, every member of the Park Board were angered when they were told that it was their job to follow the proceedings of the Commission.

The provision allowing the Alderman to override Park Board Decisions incited more anger.  They did not understand what the Park Board had done so badly to cause the commissioners to strip them of their power to run the Park and Recreation Department.

There are two provisions in the Charter outside the section on Park Department that seal control of that department under the power of the Board of Alderman.  I am planning to explain that to the Board of Alderman tonight early in the evening.