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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Virtually Unreported- Raytown MO's Politicians Giving Away City's Revenues to Corporate Interests

Small- municipal 'fiefdoms' rarely have the benefit of a truly free press to expose the wrongs that go on under the noses of the citizenry.

Even in large metropolitan areas- coverage of the goings-on of the political wheeling and dealing in the biggest core cities are superficial at best anymore.

This can be attributed to 2 things: big-city newspapers staffs are shrinking- if not whole papers disappearing- leaving electronic media (TV- radio) with their already small staffs to cover things (not necessarily local or even important to the local viewer) in the 10 to 12 minute news segments of their "newscasts."

Coverage of political insider deals- and even much of the local 'spot news' it seems- has fallen to Internet sites operated by dedicated citizens (like moi) taking "news" matters into their own hands...

In Raytown MO- that political insider coverage has become the passion of a former alderman who is running for that position again- Greg Walters.

Raytown's political powers that-be have effectively given away virtually all their significant sales tax sources to large- corporate interests pretty much under the radar of public scrutiny- but the wheeling and dealing hasn't escaped Mr. Walters' THE RAYTOWN REPORT.

Mr. Walters breaks down the deal that Raytown politicians gave to mega-corporation Walmart to rebuild a store in that central Jackson county city- and he also reports new deals that will further erode that city's sales tax base.

Raytown's regular sales tax rate is 8.1-percent- according to the Raytown government's Web site.

There are also three special or so-called "Community Improvement District" sales tax areas in Raytown- one has already benefited another corporate entity to rebuild in that city- a HyVee grocery store at Gregory and M-350- that used to be located with a Walmart store in an older strip center at 67th Street and Blue Ridge Cutoff.

Mega-corporation Walmart decided they too needed a new store- so they went to Raytown's politicians to see what kind of deal they could get.

The new Walmart opened behind-schedule in late 2009 on M-350 Highway east of Raytown Road.

There- the sales tax is a full percentage higher- 9.1-percent- than the rest of Raytown's sales tax and that higher tax includes and existing Westlake True Value hardware store.

According to a graphic that was screen-captured from Mr. Walter's RAYTOWN REPORT page- NONE of the higher 9.1-percent sales tax charged in that Walmart "special sales tax district" goes into Raytown's general fund- for any so-called "community improvement-" and that probably goes for the deal that was offered to HyVee.

In 2010- Raytown had to cough-up a reported $1.8-million out of it's general fund to cover the Walmart deal.

The Raytown Christmas for Corporations doesn't end there however.

Deals or "tax abatements" have been extended to other corporate interests to entice them to build in Raytown.

An Aldi and now a Save-A-Lot grocery store have been offered these sweet tax deals to build in Raytown- with little financial risk to those corporations- but a considerable risk to Raytown's property taxpaying residents (Raytown's property tax of $9.21 per $100 valuation is one of the highest in the Missouri Metro).

These tax abatements for corporate interests are made up by increases to property taxes on homeowners.

Recently on Greg Walter's RAYTOWN REPORT blog- residents have complained about promised street resurfacings that consisted of a cheaper and not-long-lasting "chip and seal process-" as well as the lack of functional street lighting and the ballooning Raytown crime and property tax rate.

My hat is off and I salute Greg Walter's blog.

If not for his diligence- most Raytown residents would be totally unaware of the robberies going on- not only by criminals in their city- but by politicians in their own City Hall.


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