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Raytown city leaders talk new budget: 'We're on the right track'

Posted: 6:46 PM, Oct 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-18 20:47:01-04

RAYTOWN, Mo. — Two days after aldermen approved a new budget, Raytown's administration is answering questions about the city's financial situation.

"I would say we're on the right track," said Assistant City Administrator Damon Hodges.

The fiscal year 2018-19 budget paints a brighter financial picture for the city, with no major cuts. In addition, the hard decisions made last year are expected to result in the first increase in the city's general fund since 2014.

"It shows the efficiency of our staff...we had a decrease in expenditures," Hodges said.

There are no major changes to funding levels by department, except for a decrease from $7.7 million to $4.96 million in Public Works. According to Hodges, that reflects the completion of two out of three major capital projects. 

Our interview with administrators was scheduled for Thursday after both declined to discuss the proposed budget until aldermen approved it.

"For me to talk about a proposed budget to you really didn't give the citizens any more than my perspective on something that somebody else is getting to vote on," Assistant City Administrator Missy Wilson explained.

Wilson went on to point out the budget was publicly discussed during finance committee meetings in August. The proposed budget was also presented to the board of aldermen in full on September 4.

Still, at least one citizen felt there wasn't much outreach or opportunity for public comment.

"I actually attended those meetings, and still there's other stuff in the budget that wasn't discussed during those meetings," Tony Jacob said.

Jacob is a resident and a frequent watchdog fixture at board of aldermen meetings. He's gathering signatures on a petition for a state audit of Raytown's government, citing a lack of transparency and concerns over where money is going.

"I think if I bang my head enough, the hole will get big enough to where now we can see the light," he laughed and said of his efforts.

While Jacob and those who have signed the petition feel the city is opaque, Wilson maintained they strive for transparency. She urged citizens to attend board of aldermen meetings and to get involved through volunteering. 

Wilson also wanted to point out the economic victories over the past year, including an increase in residential construction projects and the opening of 89 new businesses. 

"Sometimes those things get left behind as people are considering passing a budget or making some hard decisions, what is happening in small increments throughout Raytown," she said.