his issue officially marks the start of The Landmark’s 155th year of weekly publication. This newspaper has never missed a week of hitting the streets with the local news even through times of war, weather, staff sickness, mechanical challenges, etc. Kind of mind boggling when you stop to think about it. Some details on The Landmark’s long history can be found in a story that starts on the front page.
It would be easier to write a column if the words didn’t have to make sense.
I spent an hour on the treadmill last night. Next time I might plug it in.
If you’re looking for a little excitement in person or maybe parked in front of your television set, the Fox4 morning show will be making a couple of appearances in our area. The Fox4 morning crew of Mark Alford, Abby Eden, Nick Vasos and company will be in Weston next Friday, May 17. Then the Fox4 crew will be back in this neck of the woods to do a show in Platte City on Friday, July 26.
Meanwhile if you want some fake TV, Landmark Live will be back on your computer and cell phone screens very soon. We’re strapping on our fanny packs and taking this sideshow on the road. We’ve been invited out to do shows from JBLB Insurance Group in Platte City and also from the KCI Marriott later this month. Details coming soon on our Facebook page at Platte County Landmark.
Got an electric car? Here’s a jolt for you.
According to the folks at City Hall in Platte City, Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative has signaled its intention to install what would be the first electric vehicle (EV) charging station in the city. It appears Platte-Clay will place the charging station at the Platte City branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library, in the library’s west parking lot. No word yet on the time frame for installation. Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt said he salutes PCEC and the cooperation of the library “in making this major step toward encouraging EV opportunities for our citizens.” The city will hold a ribbon cutting and photo op at the charging station when things are ready to get electrified.
Let’s break some news from inside the local banking industry.
Word has been circulating on the street–and it’s good word, as I’ve confirmed it with sources in a position to know–that Central Bank of the Midwest is going through all the necessary application and regulatory approval process as it intends to acquire BankLiberty.
I’m told Central Bank of the Midwest’s planned acquisition would be of the entire BankLiberty system in the Northland, including of course the local branch in Platte City. If the application and all the regulatory stuff proceeds without a hitch, the ownership change is expected by year’s end, if not before.
Do you travel on 72nd Street near I-29 in Platte County? You’re about to notice some likely irritation followed by better traffic flow. The City of Kansas City will be improving 72nd Street from I-29 east to Overland Drive. That’s a mile long stretch of roadway to undergo about $3.7 million worth of improvements.
The work will include widening of the traffic lanes, installing some turning lanes, new storm sewers, new water line, lighting, and pavement markings. “It’s a pretty straightforward project,” Bob Heim, public works director for Platte County, told me.
The improvements should help improve traffic flow through that stretch, which has a tendency to bottleneck at certain times of the day. Roughly $1.3 million of the $3.7 million will come from Kansas City’s portion of Platte County’s 3/8th cent road sales tax revenue. Around $2.3 million is put forth by the City of Kansas City, with some of that being reimbursed by a federal grant, Heim explained. “It’s a big money shuffle,” he said.
A groundbreaking for the project is planned later this month. It is anticipated a majority of the improvement work will be completed this construction season, though some final touch-ups could spill into 2020.
So, with the half cent county park tax set to expire at the end of 2020, when is the county commission planning to put a renewal of some type on the ballot? That question was asked by David Park, community activist and avid parks supporter, of the commission during Monday’s meeting. He addressed the question openly to all three commissioners. It was interesting to see that John Elliott, second district commissioner, was the commissioner who spoke in response. Take that as an indication that Elliott is the commissioner who is calling the shots on this topic.
Elliott spoke very slowly and while looking down. It almost appeared as if he was reading portions of his answer from prepared notes, likely realizing the question was soon to come up after the recent pounding of the jail sales tax.
“I would assume that will be sometime next year,” Elliott began. “We’ve employed a financial advisor to help us figure out what the proper tax structure is for the county that will appropriately fund our core county functions, and of course the first of those is law and order, our sheriff’s department, our prosecutor and our courts,” he said. Insert kind of a strange long pause here. “But until that work is done we’re not prepared to say when something will be on the ballot.”
Park pushed the issue a bit more: “You’re looking also at property taxes for a restructure?” he asked.
Elliott then brought up the pending lawsuit over the Zona Rosa bonds, in which the county is asking the court to rule that county taxpayers will not legally be on the hook to cover the one percent Zona sales tax revenue shortage to make payments on the Zona Rosa bonds. “No. Well, yes and no. Until we know about Zona Rosa we’ll not know about what our property taxes will look like. Because if we lose that deal then property taxes are going to have to be doubled just to make the payment.”
I’ve mentioned in this column previously that it seems obvious the county commission’s intent is to put a significantly reduced park sales tax on the ballot as late as possible, as close to the 2020 sunset as possible, with the intent being to squeeze parks supporters. With that late timing the commission will try to corner park supporters into voting in favor of reducing the current half cent park tax to an eighth or quarter cent sales tax. The commission will make it clear that park supporters have the option to approve the reduced park tax prior to the sunset or the entire tax will go away.
So park supporters need to be putting some pressure on county officials to bring a ballot question to voters as early as possible. That won’t be anytime in 2019, according to Elliott.
“Is it safe to say you’ll have nothing on the ballot in 2019?” Park asked. “That’s a safe assumption,” Elliott responded.
(Get more from the publisher on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook at Platte County Landmark. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)