Raymore Mayor Peter Kerckhoff publicly addressed Cass County Commissioners after the city council voted 6-2 on April 22 to reject participating in the county’s proposed three-phase project to improve the safety of School Road from Hubach Hill Road and 211th Street.
“Some weeks ago, as I handed a service plaque to Commissioner Cox in recognition of his time on the Raymore City Council, I suggested two things that he might address early in his service as a County Commissioner – publish Commission agendas, ePackets, and minutes on the County web site and improve school road,” Kerckhoff said on April 25. “This last Monday, Commissioner Cox reminded me of my second suggestion as he told of how I made the suggestion, ‘Just two words ... School Road.’ I think we all can agree – when a problem can be adequately described with just two words, there certainly is a problem that needs to be addressed.”
The cooperative agreement asked Raymore to forego their portion of the county’s Road and Bridge tax revenues for three years, an estimated cost of $546,000, or 10 percent of the $5.5 million project.
The county was committed to covering 68 percent of the cost, and Peculiar would be on the hook for the remaining portion – about 22 percent, or $1.2 million.
“Commissioner Cox devised a solution to the problem of School Road and Monday evening, presented his solution to the Raymore City Council. The Council, while agreeing that School Road needs to be improved, also recognized that they had already spent over $2.4 million on School Road improvements, and did not want to spend $546,000 to improve the portion of the road outside of city limits,” Kerckhoff said.
The improvements to School Road proposed by the County were to be performed in three phases over the next three years.
Kerckhoff referred to Raymore’s portion would cover Phase 3 of the project, and suggested that the county perhaps set aside the necessary funding over the next several years.
“Alternatively, the county may have these funds already. This last November, the county auditor stated that the 2013 County budget includes an emergency fund of $650,000,” Kerckhoff said. “The County has already identified School Road as a dangerous road in need of immediate improvement – precisely the sort of situation where funds from an emergency fund should be used.”
Following Kerckhoff’s statement, Cox said he disagreed with the accuracy of the mayor’s reference to Raymore being asked to cover the funding for Phase 3.
“I do respectfully disagree with the mayor’s comments that $546,000 of the $5.5 million project, which we basically asked Raymore to help fund 10 percent of the overall project,” Cox said. “Respectfully, we were using those monies for all three of the phases as I explained at the City Council meeting.”
Kerckhoff finished his remarks by thanking Cox for his work.
“I applaud Presiding Commissioner Cox on his leadership toward addressing the needed improvements to School Road and the other commissioners for agreeing to move forward with improving School Road,” he said. “I look forward to the county developing a project schedule and publishing the schedule on the web so that we can follow and give cheer to the progress made to improving school road.”
Raymore’s decision was disappointing, Cox said.
Cox said that in 2009, 2010 and 2011, all 19 Cass County city shares of the Road and Bridge sales tax revenues went toward the North Cass Interchange project. In addition, another $1.2 million of county dollars aided the project.
“While it benefits all of Cass County, it dramatically benefited the city of Raymore and the city of Belton,” Cox said of the interchange. “When I was on the Raymore Council for five years, I don’t remember one single complaint about how we’re using Harrisonville, Pleasant Hill, East Lynne, and Garden City’s money in Raymore. That complaint was never lodged at that time when other cities’ money was being spent in the Raymore city limits.”
Cox said the county still plans to work with Peculiar city leaders to see the project through, and met with the mayor and city administrator on Monday.
“I think at this point we sit down, roll up our sleeves, and look at other alternatives,” he said. “We basically have a plan in place to fund 90 percent of the overall project, so we got 10 percent to go. Both jurisdictions are committed to moving forward and we’re in the process of exploring all avenues and all options so that all three phases of the project get funded.”