Archive for the ‘Clay County Commission’ Category

As if there was any hope that Commissioners Ridgeway and Owen would come to their senses on the $50 million dollar certificates of participation, it looks as if they are asking for a showdown at the Clay County Commission meeting next Monday with the tax payers.

If you head over to the Clay County website and pull up next Monday’s Commission Agenda you will find that the last item on there is the approval of the certificates of participation.

What you won’t find is any specifics on the certificates of participation.

10.15.2018 Commission Agenda

As if it wasn’t frustrating enough that there’s been no public discussion on what exactly the $50 million dollars is going to pay for, they don’t even have the courage to tell us what they’re passing on Monday.

Apparently we have to pass it so that we can see what is inside of it.

I’m sure they will say they can’t publish the details by hiding behind some Executive Session excuse. That excuse is nothing more than an “opinion” given by some overpriced legal counsel. Legal counsel who does the bidding of the two behind this. These people are not judges. It’s a ridiculous excuse and pretty shameful. But, ridiculous excuses and shameful is something I would associate with Commissioners Owen and Ridgeway as that’s been pretty much the way they’ve behaved for years now.

Updated: 10/12/2018 11:57 AM – Someone was apparently shuffling around the office and found the document. I’m sure it was an honest mistake.

Get your reading glasses out, because it’s a 49 page document. Oh, and we’re getting a new astronomy center because well, you know, the people are in the streets demanding a new astronomy center. Here’s the full list of projects:

County Project List

Again, the question remains, HOW DID YOU COME TO THESE NUMBERS ESPECIALLY ON THE NEW ANNEX!

I will be attending the County Commission meeting on Monday with a video camera in hand. If able to have the opportunity, I will be standing up and speaking against the passage of this plan.

We’re going to need your help. Two weeks ago we saw Commissioners Owen and Ridgeway back down from what was going to be a tax increase. We had about 3-4 dozen citizens shown up at the Courthouse, and I think it made the difference.

We need about 5-6 times that amount to show up on Monday. I’ve watched these two for years now. They think you don’t care, and they’re only being opposed by a small minority of highly opinionated people. And in fairness, that’s been the appearance to me, too. I do think that is changing, and this is a perfect opportunity to show them.

Please don’t feel like you need to speak, just show up and make your presence known. The room where the Commission meeting is held needs to be so full that people have to leave the room and stand outside.

There’s two things to keep in mind here: First, a large crowd could potentially stop this from going ahead. Second, this needs to be about optics. Commissioner Owen and Ridgeway both need to be retired from public service in 2020. Going ahead in the face of this opposition will be terrible optics. Those sorts of things make outstanding campaign ads and mailers in an election.

This is a direct appeal to all of our state representatives, state senators, local school board members, and anyone else in the public sphere who is concerned about rocking the boat.

Rock the damn boat and show up on Monday in opposition to this. This is your County, too. I don’t want politicians who want to just get along, I want elected officials who serve the people by standing up against something that doesn’t benefit them. You’re a voter and tax payer, too. Act like one.

A few things that I need you to do:

  1. If this came to you by email, please forward it on to everyone you know in Clay County.
  2. If you are on Facebook, please join the event and tell us that you are coming, at the very least if you honestly can’t make it, please click Interested. This helps the Facebook algorithm determine the interest level in the event. The more interest the more it is shared with others.
  3. Share this Facebook Page with others by clicking share on Facebook!
  4. SHOW UP MONDAY IF YOU CAN
  5. Do not feel like you need to speak
  6. Consider bringing signs simply stating NO to the certificates of participation. Lots of people holding signs may look good on TV. I suspect a couple of local news stations will show up.
  7. Prepare for a long morning as this is last on the Commission Agenda.

 

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A significant amount of money from the $50 million certificates of participation that Commissioners Owen and Ridgeway are wanting to spend involves a new Clay County Annex. 

For those that don’t know what the Clay County Annex is, it’s a second building of the County’s that provides some County government functions. It’s supposed to help people in the County who are farther away from the Clay County Courthouse in Liberty, MO. It’s located down in Kansas City at 1901 NE 48th St.

I’ll be the first to grant the Commissioners the point that the building leaves more to be desired and has some problems. Doing something about it could be, and probably is, justifiable.

The question becomes just what is justifiable.

I’ve been told that the proposed new building might cost as much as $20 million dollars. I don’t have any firm information because, well, no one really does.

You swing over to the highly advanced, and modern, Clay County, Missouri web page and you get little, if any, information in the news section. Seems we went through a 2 year period where there wasn’t any news at all to print back in 16 and 17.

Interestingly, you do get a little bit of propaganda about the tax levy kerfuffle. Business as usual folks, your Commissioners unanimously froze tax rates after Commissioner Ridgeway rode in on her legislative steed and saved the day.

Clay County Front Page

Funny, I don’t see a news item from 2017 saying Commissioners raised your taxes in a 2-1 vote. Oh, well, that news wasn’t fit to print. Busy, busy running the County, or something.

Great news though, the County is continuing “to move forward with multiple improvement projects addressing deferred maintenance and infrastructure upgrades and is committed to taking on these tasks without raising taxes.”

Sigh…

One would think that if you were about to leverage the citizens of the County for a cool $20 million that you might want to tell us about your grand scheme.

And that’s where the questions begin to get really interesting.

I find it peculiar that we’re talking about a $20 million dollar building when there’s been no serious public discussion about what this building will look like and where it might be located.

Do architectural plans for said building even exist?

If they do, how were they created?

Was there an RFP?

Who created them?

How was this architect chosen?

If plans don’t exist, how did you arrive at the $20 million?

Did you consult an architectural firm without the full knowledge of the entire commission, or did you all throw darts at a dart board?

Dart throw

Possible future architectural consultant for Clay County, Missouri?

If architectural plans exist, where is this new building going?

Or, more interestingly, do you have an actual parcel of land that you’re going to build on?

That’s a really interesting question actually, and I’m hearing some really interesting rumors.

I’ve been asking around a lot to try and figure out if it’s true or not. I’m not naming any specific names, but will if it can be proven.

There is an individual that may be a friend of a specific Commissioner who could be involved in the land transaction where this new building may set.

Now, I’d like to believe that this is a rumor and is not true, because if a friend of a specific Commissioner financially benefited from a deal like this, it would look really bad.

But, hey, just rumors, right?

I’m a practical guy. I often think we should think a little different in government. After all, it’s my money you’re forcefully confiscating, so you’d think you would want to be as responsible as possible.

Has anyone considered looking at existing office space or older strip malls for the Annex?

The Annex is functional. It serves a purpose. It doesn’t have to be an amazing building. It just needs to do what it’s supposed to do.

Considering a lease agreement on some sort of existing space could save tax payers a boatload of money, and potentially bring more business traffic to another part of the County.

Not saying I’m right here, or if it’s even possible, but we have no idea what you have considered thus far. Again, I’m part of the nearly 8,000 citizens who don’t trust anything you do.

Commissioners Owen and Commissioners Ridgeway would make the most responsible choice they’ve ever made if they just stopped everything on this. If they seriously want to proceed, they need to treat the citizens of Clay County with some respect and start giving us specifics and details. Quit hiding behind executive sessions.

I have spent some time trying to get up to speed on what is exactly going on with this $50 million dollars that Commissioners Ridgeway and Owen are wanting to spend. (Please note, Commissioner Nolte does not want to spend it.)

I assure you, this is something you need to know about and something you should consider doing something about.

I was originally told this was a bond, to be more exact, it’s what is termed a “certificate of participation (COP)”. It’s a form of a bond.

By using a COP the county is essentially going to lease-finance the projects. What happens is that certificates of participation are issued to participating investors. Investors then receive payment under the lease-purchase contract. Here’s a more in depth explanation on Investopedia.

The most important difference between a COP and a bond that you should know about is that they do not have to have any support from the public to do this. Right now as it stands, without a large public outcry about this, Ridgeway and Owen can vote on the final terms of the Certificates, and boom we’re $50 million in debt.

You have to marvel at the audacity of these two individuals.

They just had 7,925 citizens sign a petition demanding that the County be audited. It’s abundantly clear that they’ve lost the support of the people. But, hey, let’s just power through and put those same people on the hook for $50 million dollars worth of projects.

They are asking for a sum that is about 1/2 the size of the budget for the entire year. In typical Luann Ridgeway and Gene Owen fashion, they’re just going to do it.

Ridgeway Owen Nike Posters

Don’t you think we at least deserve to see a specific list of projects that are involved here?

All we get is one paragraph in Resolution 2018-298 that states the following: “(a) the construction of a new County Annex Building, (b) improvements to the County Administration Building and the Shrader Building, (c) improvements to the golf courses of the County, (d) improvements to the marinas of the County, (e) improvements of park properties, (f) improvements to historic sites, and (g) road and bridge improvements.

You’re going to spend $50 million on all this… I might not even disagree that some of it could be justified.

But what specifically are you going to do? Have you done your diligence in preparing these projects? Or, for that matter, do the projects even exist with cost estimates at all?

To make matters worse, you don’t even have a County Administrator right now because you got rid of the one you gave a 44% salary increase to and then later casted to the side.

Hell, even Kansas City at least had the decency to attempt to prepare a list of items they might address when they went to the voters and passed their GO bonds not too long back.

I get it, you guys think you’re experts about everything and you know best. Unfortunately, I’m part of the nearly eight thousand Clay Countians who think you’re dishonest and incompetent.

If I was a betting man, I’d say you have absolutely nothing detailed prepared, and you’re just taking a swing at how much money you want.

The thing that concerns me the most about all this is it’s a $50 million dollar liability with no funding mechanism dedicated to cover it. They’re going to pull the payments out of general revenue. When the economy rolls over again, we’re on the hook for paying this back somehow.

And if you think that the economy can’t and won’t roll over again in the next few years you’ve lost your mind. That would make you as ignorant as the same people who said everything was fine in 2007 before the economy exploded.

We are living in one of the biggest asset bubbles in human history. The next recession will see massive asset devaluations. (I may write a post soon explaining the economics behind what I’m talking about.)

When assets (businesses, homes, cars, you know, “real property” that we own but have to pay taxes on to continue to own) devalue, tax revenues reduce because they are a direct result of asset value. (Sidenote: This is what makes property taxes one of the WORST ways to fund government. Revenues fall almost a year after the economy contracts adding pain to local budgets because bureaucrats seem to think there’s no such thing as rainy day until their standing in a puddle.) When this happens, the county could easily be forced into a situation to increase property taxes just to be able to make the lease payment on the COPs, or to keep overpriced staff employed (don’t forget their pensions and health care plans. I know, I know, they’re public servants, never mind us pensionless serfs).

We all need to watch this one because I suspect what is going to happen is that the final approval of the COPs will be hoisted onto a meeting agenda at the last possible second. I’m being told it may be the middle of October, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I’ll do my best to keep an eye out for it. I get it. A lot of you are busy, I am too, but we had 3 dozen or so people show up to oppose the tax increase that wasn’t supposed to be a tax increase, it would be nice to see twice that crowd in the room.