News about what is happening in Blue Springs, MO

Zoo Sales Tax Issue on November 8th Special Election Ballot

clock October 31, 2011 10:55 by author Jeff Quibell

NOTICE OF SPECIAL ELECTION
JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2011

Notice is hereby given to the registered qualified voters of Jackson County, Missouri, that
the Jackson County Legislature has called a Special Election, pursuant to Ordinance Number 4334, to be held in said County on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.


QUESTION
Shall a retail sales tax of one-eighth of one percent (1/8%) be levied and collected for the benefit of the Kansas City Zoological District, which shall be created and consist of the county of Jackson and the counties of Cass, Clay, and/or Platte, if approved by such other county’s voters, for the support of zoological activities within the district?


Back to School for Elected Folks

clock July 7, 2011 08:14 by author Jeff Quibell

75ES3358 4x5 @ 72 ResThe Missouri Municipal League hosts training sessions for elected officials, providing advice and training to assist us in understanding our roles in city government and to teach us what and even more importantly, what not, to do.

I recently attended this training session in Jefferson City to refresh and update my knowledge. The laws of our state change frequently, and I believe that it is important for elected officials to be as knowledgeable as possible about the position and responsibilities we have accepted.

Topics include the history and structure of Missouri municipal government. There are actually several types or designations of cities in our state, with the Missouri Revised Statutes providing the guidance for each type of city. In the case of Blue Springs, we are a home rule charter city. Cities with a home rule charter are guided by a written charter, approved by a vote of their citizens. Our Charter was adopted on April 5, 1994 and set the rules by which our city is run. You can read a copy of the Charter on the city website at http://bit.ly/BlueSpringsCharter.

Other topics taught include “Revenue Sources and the Hancock Amendment,” “Municipal Budget Process,” “The Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law,” “Parliamentary Procedures, Citizen Dialog and Conflict Resolution.” “Ethics” and “Liability and Risk.”

Exciting stuff.

The “Liability and Risk” class is very important because elected officials who do not fully understand this issue may unwittingly put our residents at risk or cause additional costs to be borne by the taxpayer. Our responsibilities also include enacting ordinances and resolutions as necessary to achieve the objectives of the city and respond to the needs of our residents.

Ministerial decisions are another responsibility of an elected official. A ministerial duty or decision can be defined as one in which a public official is required to perform under a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of legal authority.

Basically, if all discretionary precursors to an official act have been completed, and all that remains to be done is the act itself, courts may compel a municipal official to perform such action. In these decisions, there is often little or no room for discretion.

For all these reasons, it is a good policy for councilmen to periodically attend these types of training sessions.

You never know what tidbit of knowledge will help save precious taxpayer dollars.


In office, it’s actions that matter

clock July 28, 2010 09:33 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQuibell201002 Once again, it’s election time, as you can tell by the proliferation of political signs, letters to the editor, and junk mailings filling up our mail boxes. There are politicians who say they represent our interests, politicians who say they aren’t politicians, and opinion column writers, current and former politicians. How do we weed out the facts from the spin and make good decisions in selecting our next leaders? It’s difficult if not impossible to effectively verify the statements made by politicians in a timely manner. We often believe what we read or hear, especially if we know or trust the source.

As I read the letters to the editor and added my own comments to several, it occurred to me that those letters have been written with the best of intentions, usually to help friends with their efforts to win an election. Letters of support to express our own individual opinion of the person, not necessarily that the person we are supporting will in the end vote the way we think they should. Our elected officials surprise us at times with their comments, and their votes not always in sync.

So how do we as voters figure out whom to cast our vote for? Whom do we believe? The answer is simple and hard at the same time. We should make every effort to learn more about the people we are supporting, and we should dig more deeply than just our personal relationship with that person. Friendship is one thing; voting is another.

I really wasn’t surprised when I read Ron Fowler’s letter to the editor supporting Sheila Solon, as they are longtime political friends with similar positions on local issues. Ron wrote about how Sheila voted against multi-family housing complexes. What he didn’t mention is that she votes for them as well. Right or wrong, she is inconsistent on this issue. Once in February 2003 she voted to put multi-family zoning on Adams Dairy Parkway and twice that I recall in 2007 while I was on the council serving with her.

Ron also talks about Sheila voting against sales taxes. Those votes were actually against the new retail development on Adams Dairy Parkway. The next time you sit down for dinner at Olive Garden or shop at Target or Gordman’s, consider that she fought hard to stop Adams Dairy Landing from coming to town. Just before she left city office, she worked very hard to scale back Missouri Innovation Park from its original 500 acres to just 100 acres. Her actions would have restricted job growth in Blue Springs at a time when we need more high-quality jobs. Again, she is inconsistent after making “real jobs” a focal point of her council campaign.

Former Councilman Solon, as pointed out by Mayor Ross in a recent article, was very ineffective as an elected official while on the City Council. I expect it would be no different in Jefferson City. Fortunately, the voters have a choice on Aug. 3. I would recommended giving strong consideration to Mike Parker. I’ve spent some time getting to know him and believe that he will best represent the interests of his constituents and will be an effective leader.


Hope for the Redevelopment of the K-Mart Building

clock June 9, 2010 12:56 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQuibell201002 Sometimes hope is found in the simplest of places. Monday evening, the Blue Springs City Council unanimously passed a consent agenda containing hope that the K-Mart building at 40 and 7 Highways may soon find new life and new opportunities.

Since 2003, the vacant building has been a frustration for residents and city officials, as many looked for ways to eliminate the blight that K-Mart’s closing brought to that intersection. One of the challenges in addressing the situation involved the bankruptcy proceedings that continued for several years after the store closed. It was not until late in 2006 those Tri-Land properties purchased the site and began the process of exploring options with the city regarding possible redevelopment. Several years have again passed, leaving people to wonder if anything is ever going to happen. More...


Woods Chapel work is a process

clock May 5, 2010 09:38 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQuibell201002 In 2008 the voters of Blue Springs approved funds to expand and improve Woods Chapel Road from Interstate 70 south to the railroad tracks.

The first step in redeveloping Woods Chapel Road is acquiring the rights of way on both sides of the road. Widening the road cannot occur until this step is complete. This is a time-consuming process that involves properly compensating the property owners and establishing easements for the new sections of roadway.

While right-of-way acquisition is under way, the traffic engineers are creating the plans for the roadway modifications. These activities take time and provide no visible progress to residents in the community. As with most projects and developments, many significant steps are required that lay the groundwork for completion. This important project has progressed normally with completion anticipated in 2013. The current anticipated schedule for each section of the road is:


* I-70 to Castle Drive out for bid in March 2011, substantial completion by December 2012
* I-70 to Duncan out for bid in March 2011, substantial completion by December 2012
* Castle to railroad out for bid in March 2012, substantial completion by December 2013

As the western gateway to our city, Woods Chapel Road is a critical north-south connection for many residents. Improvements to this area are long overdue and are likely to facilitate the retail growth and redevelopment that the residents of this area of the city have long desired.


Please remember to vote today for the Combat Tax renewal!

clock November 3, 2009 10:10 by author Jeff Quibell

Jeff2007 This is just a reminder to go to the polls and vote for the Combat Tax renewal in Jackson County!


Private Lakes and Taxpayer Money

clock October 28, 2009 12:01 by author Jeff Quibell

Jeff2007 When is a lake not just a lake? When it also functions as a storm-water detention basin! A lake that functions as a storm-water detention basin is called a wet retention basin.

Now, what’s so important about detention/retention basins? The big issue is actually the maintenance of detention basins and who is responsible for the different components of the system. As the City Council prepares to address this issue, we need to think about the potential cost to all of us, as taxpaying citizens.

Here’s some background. Throughout our city is a network of detention basins that are a part of our stormwater management system. Our city requires developers to participate in expanding our stormwater system whenever they build a new subdivision. By law, a development must manage the on-site storm water so it leaves the property at the same rate or less than before the development was built. Detention basins provide for the storage and slow release of excess water during a storm. This helps protect our homes and property from water damage.

Here’s where it gets a little murky. Some developers choose to combine an amenity such as a lake with their detention basins. These lakes serve two primary functions: controlling storm water runoff and adding beauty, recreational opportunities and increased value to the homes in the subdivision. This provides a desirable private amenity for the use and enjoyment of the property owners.


Currently, our city provides for the maintenance of all of our city’s detention basins, including those that are combined with private lakes in some of our upscale subdivisions. It is the city’s responsibility to ensure that our stormwater system functions properly, that the basin is able to adequately manage the flow of water and properly release it. As taxpaying citizens, we all share in that responsibility through our taxes.

Recently, a number of homeowners whose subdivisions include these lake/detention basin combinations have approached the City Council, requesting to have the city pay for maintenance of their lake. Over time, lakes fill up with silt and periodically have to be dredged. Dredging is expensive, and doing it – or choosing to let the silt fill in – has no effect on the ability of the basin to control storm water. Dredging simply maintains the amenity for the subdivision.

I am confident that the city will continue to meet its responsibility of maintaining all of our stormwater detention basins, as it has for many years. The question is whether we, the taxpayers, should also have the responsibility of maintaining private lakes. If you have an opinion on this important issue, you should call your city councilman and let them know. Their contact information is available at http://tinyurl.com/bscontact.


Development group is working well

clock September 23, 2009 16:43 by author Jeff Quibell

Jeff2007small During my time in office I had the pleasure of corresponding with thousands of Blue Springs residents regarding city business. On Saturday’s Examiner opinion page, one of those residents raised some good points that should be considered when talking about the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation.

It is true. I have a bias in favor of the Blue Springs EDC. It is also true that I am one of the investing partners in the Blue Springs EDC. When the public/private partnership of the Blue Springs EDC was formed, the City Council continued the $300,000 annual budget allocation that had previously funded the city’s Economic Development Department as the public side of the venture.

The city then solicited businesses and private individuals to partner in the formation of the EDC, to be advocates for growth in Blue Springs. Those investing partners may be found at http://bit.ly/bsedcmem

From 2005 through 2011, Wanda and I have paid and/or committed $15,000 of our own personal funds through our company, CPros. As local IT professionals and custom software developers, we believe in giving back, and this is just one of the ways we choose to support our community.

Each of you living in Blue Springs is committed by the City Council to an annual contribution of approximately $5.45 (or a total of $32.70 over six years) through the taxes that you pay to the city each year.

So what is the return on the investment that Mr. Comerford is referring to in his letter, which he believes will benefit me financially? That return is economic growth for our city. And the great thing about this return is that each Blue Springs resident receives exactly the same return on your investment as I do.

Let’s talk about what that means to each of us. Is that investment worth having a new Target store in town? Is it worth getting a shopping center with Gap Outlet, Staples, Petco, Famous Footwear, Gordman’s, Maurices, Olive Garden, Chipotle, Gamestop, Arby’s, Sally Beauty Target, Lowes and Books-A-Million? Is it worth seeing three tired old strip malls totally refurbished? Is it worth capturing a science and technology park that will bring thousands of 21st-century, high-paying, quality jobs to our city and position Blue Springs as an international research destination?

I believe my investment is justified, and I’m proud to support the EDC in its efforts to provide quality growth for Blue Springs. Each one of you can communicate your belief to your councilmen. There is much more work to do, but each of you should feel confident that our EDC is effectively and professionally promoting our city and bringing new retail and employment opportunities to Blue Springs!

The Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation is non-profit, and its investing partners receive no direct financial benefit.


Why Block Economic Development?

clock September 18, 2009 09:08 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04405 As citizens, it is our responsibility and privilege to elect our representatives. We choose those that we believe will most accurately represent our beliefs and ideals, and those who will look out for our best interest. Once elected, we have a right to expect our leaders to speak to the issues that come before them in a straightforward manner, without attempting to twist or misconstrue facts. Our most recent Blue Springs city council meeting is an unfortunate example of how issues and details can be manipulated in an attempt to inaccurately spin the facts.

Let’s look first at the discussion coming from the District 3 Councilmen. The city’s check registers are a typical item on the consent agenda. Councilman Solon requested this item be removed from the consent agenda for further discussion. Her concern, and apparently Councilman Fowler’s as well, centered on reimbursements for business lunches and dinners, and the policy of how those reimbursements should be handled. Most successful organizations and businesses require some level of business conducted outside of the office, or in this case, city hall. Perhaps her concerns are indicative of the type of business Councilman Solon does, but for most of us in business, meeting with clients or prospective clients over lunch or dinner is a common practice. It is entirely appropriate that staff members should be reimbursed for doing their job at our request. Of course, proper documentation and procedures must be followed. We are fortunate to have a talented and dedicated financial department who oversees expenditures.

As I watched the remainder of last week’s meeting a common, reoccurring theme began to appear, again with the same two councilmen. Councilman Solon advocated reducing the funding to the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation by 10% or $30,000, suggesting that the EDC budget should be cut because of the current hard economic times. However, I recall this same suggestion from her several years ago before these hard times. What is the true motivation here? Why are the District 3 representatives so opposed to economic development?

These recommendations appear to be attempts to slow economic development in Blue Springs. The frequent no votes coming from our District 3 councilmen often focus on economic development issues. While the developments occurring in various parts of our city are designed to increase revenue and help keep our taxes low over the long term, these votes seem designed to impede those efforts and keep our citizens spending their tax dollars in other municipalities. Is this truly the will of the residents in District 3?

I encourage people to speak their mind, and believe that a spirited, open discussion will bring a better end result for all. Contact your councilmen and speak your mind. You can watch the meeting at http://bit.ly/bscc20090908.


Changes coming to key intersection

clock September 3, 2009 08:12 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQ Photo As much as I enjoy writing these articles, at times life gets in the way. Recently, Wanda and I traveled to Las Vegas to visit our daughter Crystal, stopping along the way to see the Grand Canyon. We returned home and have helped care for my father following his quadruple bypass surgery at St Luke’s Hospital last week. Thank you for the support and prayers from so many of our friends on his behalf. I was also touched knowing that many of you missed this column while we were gone.

I attended the Blue Springs City Council work session Monday evening. These meetings are designed for the council to discuss issues that are under consideration and for future plans and concerns to be brought up for evaluation. The meetings are open to the public, but not yet televised. I strongly encourage Mayor Ross and the council to begin televising these meetings. It would be another step toward transparency for our local government!

Many of you will be happy to hear that the council is working on the details of the Woods Chapel Road improvements that you approved in 2008.

Some of the items included in this plan are: placing signals at the intersection of Briarwood and Castle Drive; sidewalks and bike lanes as the roadway is improved; expansion of the Valley View Drive intersection; and the South Outer Road relocated further south to allow better traffic flow onto Woods Chapel and to the surrounding businesses.

Most exciting will be the conversion of the I-70 Interchange to a Diverging Diamond Interchange, the 2nd of this design in the United States. This new concept in interchange layout will move morning and afternoon traffic efficiently on and off of I-70 for traffic volumes projected as far into the future as 2030. An example of this type of interchange is up and running in Springfield at the intersection of MO-13 and I-44 http://tinyurl.com/ddinterchange.

We all recognize that the wheels of government often turn slowly. But, when progress is encouraged and allowed to develop, good things happen. The plans for these improvements should be complete by early 2010, with bids going out by the end of 2010. Construction will begin in 2011 with anticipated completion by 2013. My compliments to Mayor Ross and the City Council for continuing to move this important project forward!

One final thought on Woods Chapel. Let’s not forget to patronize the businesses along this corridor as road construction and necessary improvements may make it more difficult to access them in the future. While this will be a short term inconvenience, the long term benefits will allow this north-south artery to be a more welcoming Western gateway to our city.