Old Drum

Commentary on Warrensburg, Johnson County and Missouri issues from a Libertarian perspective. View my earlier commentary at www.olddrum.net.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why I Oppose Zoning

According to an article in the Daily Star Journal (6/26/06), the Warrensburg Board of (zoning) Adjustment decided that a homeowner has to tear off 3.7 feet of his brand new home to meet a technical requirement of the zoning ordinance. Now, this is not a house on a main thoroughfare; it's on a side street in a rather expensive subdivision. The very restrictive homeowners' association said that waiving the "setback" requirement was fine with them. The neighbors weren't upset. City functionaries approved the plans, inspected the footings, the slab and the home. The contractor said it would cost $70,000 to move the garage, city building officials said changing the building would be destructive and that city zoning objectives would not be compromised. Nevertheless, the "Board of Adjustment" exercised its "authority" to enforce the rules without regard to equity. And that's what I fear when county-wide zoning is suggested.

When people make rules, it's easier to enforce them as written than to make rational exceptions. Remember that, you country folks, when someone again suggests that Johnson County ought to have zoning!

In Liberty

Friday, June 23, 2006

Gone to the Dogs

Marshall's gone to the dogs while Warrensburg remains half-baked. Yes, the nearby city of Marshall has adopted a new slogan, specifically to encourage tourism - "Smart dogs, friendly folks." This, of course, is based on Missouri's second most famous dog, Jim, the Wonder Dog. Meanwhile, Warrensburg, home to the statue of Missouri's first most famous dog, shuns Old Drum.

Yes, we've had plenty of opportunity to go for the dog-lover niche, but have barked up other trees, instead. Our brand, costing us a lot of dough, was developed under orders to make it "not just the dog" (which obviously meant "don't use the dog"). Somebody decided that our "dog don't hunt" while Marshall obviously has other ideas. So we're going to sit up and beg for tourism while Marshall says "sic 'em."

For years I wrote an annual letter offering ideas to make a dog-themed Old Drum Days festival a real attraction. Maybe Marshall will find the ideas interesting. For more information about what they're doing, see The Marshall News.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random Comments

Did you know that E85 ethanol (85% ethanol) is now available in Warrensburg? The Break Time station on South Maguire has added it and it's about 50-60 cents a gallon cheaper than regular or E-10. I wonder how much it'd cost to convert my cars to take E85?

The digitalBurg.com account of Monday night's City Council meeting raised some random thoughts:

I still don't know what the GWACC&VC wanted by asking the City to be a "trustee sponsor" for its events. It appears the City Council didn't want any part of it either, saying, in effect, "don't we give you eough money already?"

On the other hand, the City & County are so afraid of losing a few pennies that they won't give people a break during the state sales tax holiday in August. I'll do my best not to buy anything taxable during those dates (August 4-5-6). Maybe I'll take a trip - to someplace that does give the break, even if I don't buy anything covered.

I hope the consultant hired to prepare a Warrensburg comprehensive plan comes up with something more palatable than the one that came up with the new logo. Any consultant can do no better than the information & guidance provided - garbage-in, garbage-out applies to studies as well as to computers.

Warrensburg goes another year without any real community festival. If you want to see a real festival (& one that doesn't depend on 'adult beverages") visit Clinton's Olde Glory Days, on June 29-July 1. How does a much smaller town like that do such a great festival with the entertainment it provides, while Warrensburg does nothing. Heck, even Leeton & Chilhowee do more than Warrensburg.

When You're Persona Non Grata

I've been persona non grata with the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center (GWACC&VC) for a long time, due to my tendency to ask hard questions about how they spend the $90,000 per year collected from the room tax (see OldDrum.net/tourtax). Apparently that now extends to my wife, Sandra, as well. Last month, seeing a blurb that the City was looking for volunteers to serve on various boards, she made her name available to serve on the city-appointed board that oversees/advises on use of the room tax dollars. She even offered to join the Chamber if necessary.

Now, she's got some pretty good credentials - 18 years in the tourism (B&B) business, a Master's in Mass Communications, our membership in the Missouri Travel Council, contacts in the Division of Tourism, etc. She's also done a lot of PR for Blind Boone Park, has a monthly tourism program on KOKO, and has sucessfully written up 2 award-winning nominations for state tourism awards (Town of Blackwater and Sandy Irle). Didn't help - she wasn't appointed last night and she's not even gotten a "thank you for your interest" call (if it's in the mail, I'll give them a pass on that part).

My only conclusion is that people who might ask tough questions about the GWACC&VC aren't wanted anywhere near where they can see what's going on.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What are they up to now?

Two things recently got my attention. One is the County purhase of a large tract of land along US-50 for another industrial park. The second is a little blurb garnered from the DSJ's announcement about Monday's City Council meeting.

On the land purchase, I'm not sure who bought the land, the JCEDC or the County - not that it makes much difference. The Economic Development Corporation is one of those quasi-private outfits that gets money from government and private sources to lure new employers to the area. They supposedly sell the land to these new companies, sometimes putting up buildings "on spec." My questions are these:

1. Where does the money come from to buy land and put up buildings?
2. When a buyer or tenant is found, who gets the money?
3. Does the land (and building) go back on the tax rolls at some point after it is sold?
4. Of the existing industrial park, how much of it is on the tax rolls now? And how much of it is occupied by tax exempt charities and governmental organizations?
5. Do any of the companies in the existing industrial park have any tax abatements or incentives? If so, what are the details (company, type & amount of abatement/incentive, when it expires, taxing districts affected)?

The other item that I noticed was a little blurb that said the Warrensburg City Council would consider a request by the GWACC&VC (Warrensburg Chaber) that the City become a "Trustee Sponsor" of Chamber events. What in the Sam Hill does that mean? I don't know, but I'm always suspicious when the GWACC&VC (which already gets $100K per year from a room tax) wants something from the City.

In Liberty