Monday, June 14, 2010

city council meeting 6/14/10

Opening prayer provided by Nick Ibarra with thoughts and prayers being extended to the family of Tom Finnie as his wife passed away recently.

Since there is a police/fire pension issue on the agenda the "first responders" are here in full force, I doubt if they are going to admit to their portion of the underfunding.

Swearing in of John D. Whittington to the airport board.

Springfield Catholic Lady Irish being recognised for winning MO state soccer championship. Resolution passed way to go ladies.

manager's report praising the disinformation being orchestrated for the passage of the CIP tax. Quarterly revenue down once more an with hiring freeze and budget cuts. City has found a source for all recycled glass to be hauled to KC to be used in fiberglass insulation, although we won't make any money it isn't going to cost us any money to be hauled away.
brick sidewalks being discussed and if these shall be retained, replaced, and/or repaired the city manager is going to create a "task force" to look into the subject. trees and which ones are going to be cut down in Fassnight Park is being discussed and of course the local media is being hammered for erroneous reporting. City manager covering his basis with the police/fire pension funding issue on "their" short funding and the portion that the city has short funded, however the amount lost in the pension plan because of the stock market debacle is clearly on the backs of the private sector taxpayers.

Councilman Burlison wants to know if the people are going to be told which trees are going to be cut down, it appears some of the trees are diseased and need to be removed. Yes the park belongs to the city and by fiat the taxpayer however we the people should not nor should we expect to be informed of the removal of trees in a city park.

Council Bill 2010-143

Budget for the city, the budget is balanced however we know this is compliant on the revenue guesstimating of MMD and city staff.

Council Bill 2010-144

No assessed increase in property values, this is a good thing as the economy is stagnant.

Council Bill 2010-145

Fees for services, of course this is being billed as services the city is providing to the people, however much of these are services that are being forced onto people such as inspecting restaurants, replacing stop signs that get knocked over, and inspecting tanker trucks that haul fuel oil in Springfield, never mind that the DOT has the authority and the mandate to do this. The city is NOT a recognised DOT compliant organization.
Fred Ellison gave a talk about us being taxed enough, city attorney Dan Wichmer tried to use the KS fire fighters case as an explanation except he clearly misrepresented the entire case, but we find this behavior to be the norm.

Council Bill 2010-151

AG requesting Community Improvement District (CID) to build on property at West Battlefield and Kansas Ave and Kansas Expressway. I'm unaware that AG pays property taxes since after all they are a religious institution. This CID (1/2) is supposed to disappear after 15 years or when the development is paid off. I believe the CID if it didn't generate enough revenue to pay for improvements the developer could just ask for an extension. This is a single owner CID who is requesting the right to have the same authority as the city to collect and make use of tax money at their convenience.
Councilman Bailes asked why the taxpayers and/or the city should be requested to fund improvements when in reality the vacant lot was sold at a cheaper rate then a developed lot.

Fred Ellison discussing how this is going to effect the functionality of Battlefield Road and Kansas Expressway and with the latest improvements to this intersection especially since the improvements were done not that long ago. Also why can't the developer just raise the cost of their products.

Council Lady Rushefsky sides with Mr. Ellison on his points of picking winners and losers, increased traffic on an intersection which is already burdened to the extreme and the single developer CID.

MMD was asked to respond to the points raised by Mr Ellison but from listening to this response the questions aren't being answered except to say CID's have gone to single owners, and she passed on the raising the price of products question. Lawyer for developer says it is a competitive issue which could hinder the retailer on their sales.

Council Bills 2010-146

Accepting the budget of the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This is done via the sales tax being collected on motel/hotel rooms, various grants from state and private enterprise funds.

Council Bill 2010-147

Changing job titles and giving raises not based on any merit but by simply reclassifying jobs. There are 13 additions and 11 deletions. Speaker says the increase equates to $300.00.

Councilman Ibarra asking about the Botanical Garden being built with ARRA funds and a position being created for a person to be hired in this area. Shiela Maerz is unaware if this position to be paid out of stimulus dollars. Normally these types of positions are a burden to the taxpayer with local tax dollars and not federal tax dollars.

S.E.I.U. union stewart is disappointed that their employees are getting a little bit of a shaft by the elimination of the step pay scale, which gives an individual a raise simply because of tenure.

Fred Ellison asking about these reclassification and why police are not being required to work down there leave and/or vacation as this adds to the pension plan problem as this pads to the end salary for retirement benefits. The problem we have is not one person looked further enough ahead to see how this was going to impact the pension fund.

Council Bill 2010-148

Requesting 1/2 MILLION in grants to relocate railroad wye to ease traffic flow and help remove trains from the center city area.

Councilman Chiles asking about passenger rail possibility of the downtown area if this action occurs.

Ibarra would like to know if this is in the vicinity of Chestnut Expressway and I-44.

Council Bill ?

Requesting that C.U. accept the bid of KPMG for their auditing firm.

Council Bill 2010-107

The Walgreen issue, which is kind of caused by the state legislature.

District Manager of Walgreens says this is a demand of customers and as a retail outlet they will try to meet the needs of the customer and they will do so responsibly. This is a limited product run and will not sell individuals only cases.

Councilman Rush request they withdraw the ordinance Walgreens spokesperson declined. main issue is being able to purchase a beer, toothpaste, toothbrush, and a prescription.

Councillady Rushefsky ask about how many stores in SPFD (9 total) (8 with liquor license), Walgreen's nationwide are requesting a beer and wine permit for the stores that aren't allowed to sell this commodity. Wants to know if the employees have been trained to recognise a person that is drunk and if the employees know what the customer does after they leave the lot....."It isn't the concern of Walgreen's nor the employees to what occurs to any customer that leaves the lot"

Councilman Bailes request if there has been any police actions in the "other" stores parking lots or disturbances requiring police actions.

Councilman Stephens what type of training does the employees go through in order to sell beer and wine.

Councilman Ibarra turns Rush's comment into nil because this same sequence can be accomplished at any Wal-Mart in town.

store manager speaks and shows the outlay of the store vs the school and front door to front door would be over 300' based on the fact that the front doors of the school are NO longer used because of the traffic volume on Kearney. The door into the school is in the middle of a courtyard on the south of the building whereas the store entrance is in the far northeast corner of the building.

Chris Davis, director of prevention at the Community of the Ozarks discussing abuse of alcohol if it is readily available, increased sales creates higher crime such as DUI, domestic violence, abuse, and various other crimes. Removing the availability of alcohol will diminish this type of behavior

Councilman Stephens wants to know if the studies cited were in any way forgiving the poor parenting of the children to which the speaker said no

Councilman Burlison asked if banning alcohol was a smart way to go based on what transpired in the past with banning alcohol.

Councilman Bailes asked for any info on whether there is any relevant studies on dry counties in Arkansas.

Dr Blaine states statistics show that 7.1 BILLION anually is being spent in alcohol related treatment, a study based on AMA criteria.
This law we are discussing has been on the books since 1957, which states that alcohol sales can only occur 200' away. Greene county medical association, local sherriffs department and various other agencies are not in favor of changing this ordinance. 7% of the population accounts for over 60% of the sales, to which Councilman Stephens says we should discuss this with the people who are consuing not the retailer.

Principle of Robberson urging City Council to turn down this request, it appears from a comment of the principle that school children are allowed to leave school grounds to walk over to Walgreens unattended, it appears that others at the media table heard the same comment HUH...?

PTA president discussing the safety of the children, elevated vandalism at the school and the aspect of heavier foot traffic caused by all the drunken winos who will be walking on school property

David Brundrick(? sp) Pacific Institute Research & Evaluation says the higher the availability of alcohol the higher the requirements of police services because of DUI, domestic violence, assault and various other crimes being committed by heavy drinking.

Sharon Altoroa(? sp) Started neighborhood watch in area, husband in Iraq currently serving 3rd tour. Says Walgreens is great for the community, the neighbors could not make meeting because they don't have access to transportation to attend meeting. Perhaps public transit doesn't service this area need to ask C.U. about this. She is in favor of the ordinance and sees it as a convenience as do many of the neighbors, an perhaps a vocal minority is pushing an agenda.

Council discussion is set to begin and they will take up the issue of granting a permit, if this is defeated then the other which denies the permit passes.

Councilman Rush says that Walgreens is being not beneficial to the neighborhood and will vote against the bill

Councilman Compton says we are being asked to do something which is arbitrary and not against the law. This is it is said a poor neighborhood and supports the permit

Councillady Rushefsky voting NO says Walgreens is a 2 BILLION dollar profit empire and this one store does not need to pad that figure by selling wine and beer at this outlet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Capitol Improvement TAX renewal NO or YES

Could not get the charts to load up with this but anyone who is interested in viewing I can send them via e-mail.

Sequence of the Financial Progression of EverySpringfield Capital Improvement Project

1. A project is proposed for authorization by the Administration. A proposed budget cost accompanies the proposal

2. The project is approved by City Council

3. The project is initiated at the discretion of the City Manager. Managing the project throughout its history is the City Manager's responsibility.

4. Whenever a project is started, and C.I.P. money is spent:

The total spent in every 6 month period is reported in a semi-annual Capital Improvements Projects StatusReport

The total cost for completion of the project can be revised

The expected remaining cost for completion of the project can be calculated – but is not reported.

City charter allows the City Manager to adjust individual project budgets as needed.

The final cost of the project is recorded as the total amount spent to complete the project.

How Does Springfield Currently Categorize Its Capital Improvement Projects?

Projects are divided into the following groups :

Springfield-Branson Regional Airport (8 active projects)

Springfield Art Museum (1 completed project)

Fire Department (2 active projects)

Municipal Buildings, Grounds & Streetscapes (16active projects)

Public Parks (34 active projects)

Sanitary Sewerage System (20 active projects)

Solid Waste (8 active projects)

Storm Water Projects (26 active projects)

Street Projects (26 active projects)

Traffic Engineering (14 active projects)

P.W. Shared Cost Agreement (Greene Co) (1 active project)
Total = 156 active projects

How Have The Current C.I.P Funds Been Spent In The Past Few Years, And How Much Will It
Cost The Taxpayers To Finish All Active Unfinished Projects?

What has been spent by Springfield in fiscal years 20082009 for each c.i.p. category?

How much will it cost taxpayers to complete all the projects in each (red) category?

Do all the projects meet vital core-citizen need requirements?

The total cost of unfinished projects is$244,518,321!

The Administration KNOWS it can't finish ever started capital project within any single budget year. But they KNOW they can pick & choose which projects they WANT to work on.

What are their choices?

There are $45 million in the “Parks” and “Municipal Buildings” categories – that aren't in any vital “citizen needs” group.

So, what does City Hall threaten citizens with if they don't vote for renewal of the CIP tax? The on-going road projects and the sewer projects citizens need will bestopped in their tracks – It's like they are telling voters:

“Suffer the consequences, you ignorant voters for not letting your administration spend your money the way we always have” (Our way!)

Does the City's Capital spending have any further effectson its budgetary problems? The City's long-term debt obligation is steadily rising.

Springfield's spending is equivalent to an ordinary citizen using a credit card to buy big thing that can't be paid out of current income.

What does the City of Springfield do when it can't pay for everything out of current revenue? It
sells municipal bonds, and finances major capital items that are not covered by current revenue. Interest has to be paid on their long term debt obligations.

Just how much does the City of Springfield pay every year to service this long-term debt obligation?

Interest payment on the bonds due is virtually equal to the revenue generated by the ¼ cent CIP tax. This interest payment comes straight out of Operating Budget. The Operating Budget that can't afford to hire more police and firemen.


The City of Springfield's Administration picks and chooses approved projects that will be started and completed.

With Council's approval, the Administration has spent great sums on citizens' non-core need projects in the recent past -- parks and streetscapes to name a few.

The City's overspending has generated a huge long term debt obligation.

The loss of revenue from repeal of the ¼ cent CIP tax can be balanced by cutting down spending on nonessential capital projects.

The Administration currently has no intention tomodify their Capital Improvement Project spending operations.

The only way Springfield citizens can keep the City from spending money that not covered by current revenue is to vote NO on the ¼ cent CIP tax renewal ballot. Essential projects WON'T have to be cut.

This economic downturn is a terrible time to continue spending taxpayer funds on the City's nice-but frivolous projects.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

MO sovereignty Bill stalled in Senate Committee

This was taken from the Ron Paul website. Self Explanatory. We need to call all of them especially the so-called Republican Sen. Shields
MO sovereignty Bill stalled in Senate Committee. Update
Posted May 4th, 2009 by meekandmild
We want to see Missouri ’s own Sovereignty of States Resolution [HCR 13] passed. It’s already sailed through the House but is stuck in committee in the State Senate. We hope that our State Senators believe in the freedom of Missouri citizens to pass this resolution.”
Sen. Shields and ALL Republican and Democrat State Senators are blocking Rep. Jim Guest's sovereignty legislation; specifically HCR-13 (10th Amendment-State Sovereignty) and HB-361 (Federal Real ID Act of 2005).

Sen. Shields threatens a filibuster and will not allow these Bills to come out of the Rules Committee to the full Senate for a vote. The Senate has no right stopping this legislation to protect citizens of the state.


Kevin Engler, (R) Chairman - (573) 756-5572

Gary Nodler, (R) Vice-Chair - (573) 751-2306

Joan Bray - (D) (573) 751-2514

Norma Champion - (R) (573) 751-2583

Timothy Green - (D) (573) 751-2420

Charlie Shields - (R) (573) 751-9476

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WHAT ??? have we really sunken so low that even the working girls are OK with taxes,0,3766782.story

Never have visited one so I should be in favor of this since it does not impact me RIGHT ????

WRONG !!!! this isn't that far removed from some dingle headed legislator to proclaim that ALL sex is money induced (YES even in the confines of a marriage)thus we need taxation rights on any form of intercourse of a sexual nature.

First we have gun owners who believe the second amendment is about hunting, now we have a state that wants to tax a sexual business transaction between two private or three or more individuals. Whether it should be legal or not is NOT the issue here the FACT remains that Nevada creates a tourism source based on these houses being located in the state.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Nothing else need be said

There have been two letters written in response to the failure of the 1 cent sales tax proposal to shore up the police and fire pension fund that point a finger at the citizenry for either not understanding the proposal and the consequences if it didn't pass or for not being a caring and compassionate community, demonstrating disrespect for our fire and police forces. I want to assure Geoffrey Butler and James F. Miller that nothing could be further from the truth.

The Springfield News-Leader did a thorough and outstanding job informing the public on this issue. I attended every meeting at the newspaper held by Greg Burris, the citizen's group promoting the sales tax and a City Council representative, all in favor of the sales tax. I may not be the smartest person in attendance but it didn't take a rocket scientist to understand that the numbers were not accurate and the semantics used were just as misleading.

I want to assure Mr. Butler that his comments displayed blatant disrespect for the voters in the city of Springfield. Talking down to us and using bad grammar was downright rude and condescending. Living outside of Springfield does not entitle you to belittle our small town ways and values. Mr. Butler, if you feel so strongly about this issue and feel that we failed, I'm sure that Mr. Burris would welcome a check from you in support of this failed tax issue. He could plop it right into the fund and watch it grow, a percent here, a percent there ; it all adds up in the end.

Then you can have some "skin in the game."

Mr. Miller, insurance companies get their money one way or another. Again, I assure you the voters of Springfield were well informed and educated on this issue. ISO's were created for the purpose of creating a system to make money. If I were a police or fire person, I would not appreciate the comments alluding that because the sales tax didn't pass, this core group would not respond appropriately or in a timely manner. The individuals who work those aforementioned jobs made a choice just as you made a choice for your profession. We bear responsibility for choices.

I would like to remind Mr. Butler and Mr. Miller that the voters said no on Feb. 3 to the sales tax, sending a clear message demanding that the City Council and city manager become fiscally responsible. Until the three areas of the city - parks, City Utilities and City Council - learn to work together instead of independent of each other, there will be no financial resolution that is bankable. Any credit counselor will tell you that money problems are not fixed by more money ; it is fixed by managing what you have and utilizing better budget and spending options. We learn to live with "needs" not the "wants."

I stand by the work that the Springfield News-Leader performed on this issue and find their work stellar and unpretentious. The outcome of the vote does not dignify or justify all the criticisms that have been levied against them. Another slap in the face is from the city manager not accepting the vote and planning on placing it on the ballot again. As with a small child, no means no; and as with a small child, we will push and push to get our way.

It is very easy to criticize when you don't have "skin in the game." Move into the city limits then you will offer more than lip service to this issue.

J. Diane Richardson Springfield
J. Diane Richardson is a member of the News-Leader editorial advisory board. She lives in Springfield.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The cake never tasted so BITTER

Voters reject tax hike

Springfield city manager says "worst-case" plan will have to proceed.

Wes Johnson • News-Leader • February 4, 2009

Stung by tough economic times and mistrust of city leaders, Springfield voters narrowly rejected a one-cent sales tax to bolster the financially ailing police-fire pension fund Tuesday.

The pension sales tax -- which could have pumped an estimated $40 million a year into the fund for up to five years -- failed by fewer than 900 votes, according to final but unofficial results by the Greene County Clerk's office.

Had it passed, the tax would have gone into effect July 1 and would cost an extra dollar on a $100 purchase in Springfield.

At a gathering Tuesday night at the police and fire station on east Battlefield Road, City Manager Greg Burris said he would ask voters to reconsider the sales tax question, possibly in June or August.

And he said his "worst-case" budget plan -- which called for $5.7 million in cuts if the sales tax issue failed --will need to move ahead, even after a new council is elected in April.

"I won't change my budget recommendations based on who gets elected," Burris said. "The pension problem hasn't gone away."

Today, Burris plans to meet with his staff to figure out why voters rejected the sales tax and consider how the proposal might be "tweaked" ahead of another vote.

He said the pension fund's shortfall -- $197 million in December -- will continue to get worse because of the tax vote's failure, a sentiment echoed by Councilman Doug Burlison.

"My initial thought is that the price tag to fix this problem has just gone up, and gone up at an incredible rate," a visibly upset Burlison said. "I think, with all the problems the federal government is dealing with, that folks have equated this as being a local bailout. That's not a fair representation of the problem at all."

Mayor Tom Carlson said he thought getting a sales tax passed during the current economic recession "was going to be a challenge."

"The fact the vote came this close in this uncertain time is encouraging," he said.

Councilman Ralph Manley's voice cracked, and he wiped away a few tears, after the final results rolled in on a computer screen at the police-fire station on east Battlefield.

"I am very, very disappointed that only 17 percent of the people voted on this issue," Manley said. "In my own heart -- and I'm a successful businessman -- I knew this sales tax was the best way to get this done, and get it done quick."

City voter Charles Allen backed the sales tax because he wanted to show support for police officers and fire fighters.

"I'm retired myself," Allen said. "I know how much that pension would mean to them. These people deserve it. Nobody realizes the dangers they face. When the action starts, those people are out there putting their lives on the line for you."

He hoped voters would approve the tax, but indicated he wanted to see results with the new sales tax money.

"It's a shame we got in this situation," he said. "I hope they manage this thing right and give them what they deserve -- and give us what we deserve."

But Jay Rippee said the cost of a new sales tax was too much of a burden.

"With the economy's condition now, we shouldn't have a tax increase," Rippee said.

Asked if he felt the city successfully conveyed the need for the increase, Rippee said '"no."

"I don't think they gave us the reason for why it (the shortfall) happened in the first place," he said. "That was their fault and then we want to make it up now ..."

Judy Wilson said the city didn't do enough research before asking voters for a sales tax hike, and that earned a "no" vote from her.

She also felt the city resorted to "scare tactics" to sway voters by outlining budget cuts that could happen if the tax fails.

"I didn't like the scare tactics at all," she said. "A lot of older people my age are scared to death they're not going to have police protection if this fails. I don't think that's going to happen."

Fairelyn Bayless said she felt "really sorry for those guys" because of the losses in their pension fund.

"But I'm not going to vote for it unless I'm convinced all the money would go to the pension fund," she said. "I'm not sure it will."

Steven Reed, who formed an opposition group to the sales tax, said he thought the vote showed that "the city needs to start listening to its citizens."

A lot was riding on the outcome of Tuesday's vote, including the health of next year's city budget.

Burris has already presented a 17-point budget plan that would make deep cuts in some departments, extend a hiring freeze for 30 positions and possibly lay off some city employees.

It also eliminates all city financial support of nonprofit groups, and makes significant cuts in funding for the parks, public works and health departments.

How soon could the city legally put another sales tax issue on the ballot?

A Missouri Department of Revenue spokesman said June 2 would be the city's next opportunity to put the same sales tax proposal before Springfield voters.

However, Greene County Clerk Richard Struckhoff said the city potentially could seek a court order to get the question on the April 7 general election ballot.

Struckhoff said Jan. 27 was the filing deadline for the April 7 election. Only a court order could overrule that deadline, he said.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

reasons to say NO

Letter to the News-Leader Editor – for consideration:

Springfields’ Bond Rating scare

The newest “The sky will fall in if the citizens don’t approve our 1% tax proposal” line from our City Administration is that the City’s bond rating will go to pot, and it will be much more costly to carry out the capital project spending planned by the City.

People, the City Council and the Administration have a published 5-year capital program of items that they want to build that are projected to cost $1 billion dollars – just for construction costs. That’s ONE BILLION! Oh, yes, with that kind of spending, the City’s interest costs for all those projects will be drastically higher with any new and higher bond interest rate.

We have a Council and an Administration that really likes to spend on their Capital Improvement Projects. Spending when you have the money is fun. Spending, when you THINK you have the money, is the way to achieve certain bankruptcy.

Are all those Capital Improvement Projects really necessary? Does Springfield really need more park and greenway facilities and streetscapes now? Do we need to build more parking garages that cost more than they’re worth? How many dollars do we need to pump into “Downtown projects” to subsidize private developers? The City has shown no inclination to cut these projects in these tough times.

We, the taxpayers, are stuck with an Administration that has announced they will cut twenty-eight police positions as their first-round response to any “no” vote come February 3rd. This does say quite a bit in defining the Administration’s priorities.

James R. Hornaday, Jr.