hankfully Platte County escaped the night of the twisters on Tuesday evening with no tornado touchdowns reported here. It was a crazy weather night, however, with KCI Airport shutting down for a time. Airport customers were guided to parking garage tunnels for shelter as reports of a tornado headed in that direction from the Legends area of KCK were coming in. Areas like Parkville and Houston Lake were reported to be in the potential path, forcing residents to take shelter in their basements and other safe spaces. Thankfully the winds had lessened considerably by the time the storm hit Platte County, and lifted and skipped over the Parkville/Riverside areas before apparently reforming in Clay County shortly afterward. We were lucky here, folks.
Throughout it all, I thought the TV weather people of Kansas City did a fine job informing and warning the public. Some of us–yours truly included–like to poke fun of the weather peeps for often being over-the-top dramatic and too quick to be the alarmists in the room, but on Tuesday night the men and women of TV news were in the business of trying to save lives and they did a fine job of it.
Kudos to our friends in the TV news biz. Now let’s hope the crazy weather pattern that we’re in settles down so in a few weeks we can get back to poking a little good-natured fun at them.
We have heard reports of folks in Platte County finding tornado debris in their yards, likely from the twister that hit the Linwood, Kan. area. The reports including the finding of old time family photos, etc.
Following up on a piece in last week’s column about the Mid-Continent Library Board trying to put the smackdown on any board members who dare to question the voting majority, at one point over the Memorial Day weekend I took off my shoes and socks and did a little math. Since the library board is in charge of spending millions upon millions of dollars, why should there not be room for open discussion and open disagreement among board members?
Let’s calculate some per capita MCPL expenses in Platte County. We start with noting that Platte County’s population (per the Mid-American Regional Council) in 2015 was 96,434. In 2018 it was 102,985, a 6.8 percent increase. Next look at library taxes collected from within Platte County. In 2016-17 that amount was $7.6 million. In the preliminary 2019-20 MCPL budget, that revenue is at $11.6 million, a 53 percent increase from 2016-17. So, per capita library taxes in 2016-17 were $79, while the budget for 2019-20 is $113, a 43 percent increase.
You’ll recall the library district in 2016 won voter approval for a tax increase from 32 cents to 40 cents. It even won voter approval within Platte County. The point of today’s remarks is not to hammer on voters for approving the tax. The point is to make people aware of how many millions of dollars the library board is responsible for, and with those kinds of discretionary spending decisions to be made it is ridiculous to try to put a lid on an open and honest discussion of priorities.
Keep in mind library tax revenues will continue to increase as the tax base within the district continues to grow and the library continues to assess at the maximum rate regardless of need.
A ruling is expected very soon in the lawsuit over Platte County’s potential responsibility to cover financial shortfalls in the Zona Rosa parking garage bonds situation. No matter which side “wins” in this ruling, don’t get too excited. Legal experts are telling me to expect the matter to advance to the court of appeals no matter which way the initial decision from Judge James Van Amburg comes down.
When I drove to work Tuesday morning the price at the local gas stations was $2.47 per gallon. On the way home, which is of course when I decided to take the time to stop and fill up the tank, the price had risen to $2.59. Was there some kind of world crisis going on in the desert that day?
I filled up one vehicle at the Platte-Clay Electric Coop station–my favorite local fueling stop–at the $2.59 price, then was in a different vehicle just a bit later in the evening and noticed the price on a large sign out front at the Minit Mart still $2.47. I quickly pulled in, thinking I had found a bargain. But when I approached the pump I noticed the price set on the pump itself had been changed to $2.59 while the sign that drew me in still read $2.47. Hmm.
By the way, the music playing over the speakers while you pump gas at the Platte-Clay Electric fuel station along Hwy. 92 in Platte City is fantastic. I’m assuming it’s provided off a satellite feed. Great stuff. Makes the pain at the pump a little easier to stomach.
The annual Memorial Day ceremony held at the Platte City Cemetery drew a nice crowd on pretty pleasant weather day. Some of my favorite comments from featured speaker retired U.S. Army Col. Andrew Shoffner included: “Your presence here today reflects an effort to make sure that those who have gone before us and have fallen in battle did not die in vain. I mention battle because this nation does not take the act of going to war lightly. The reason is simple: even the shortest war is costly. And that cost is measured in treasure and blood. The treasure is the nation’s financial wealth but the blood is the most precious commodity of all: the nation’s youth and the future of this great country.”
To view an album of photos from the ceremony, go to Platte County Landmark on Facebook.
Our Landmark Live episode broadcast from the patio of the KCI Marriott was a good time on Thursday. After eight months of not being in the same place at the same time, it marked a reunion for my old pal Chris Kamler and yours truly, which meant the immaturity level was off the charts. With around 6,000 views, it has been our most-watched episode of this calendar year.
Sometimes we do educational shows on business topics and get 3,000 views. Other times we show up at a public party, grab a drink, hit the “go live” button and start saying whatever ridiculous things pop into our heads and get 6,000 views.
Message received, Platte County. We get you. We see you. You want sophomoric humor and immaturity. I feel confident we can deliver the goods.
(View Landmark Live videos on Facebook at Platte County Landmark. Get more from Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)