The city of Raymore is not looking kindly on a Cass County proposal to upgrade School Road.
By BETHANY BASHIOUM
Special to The Star
City Council members voted 6-2 last week against providing $546,000, or 10 percent of the $5.5 million cost of making safety-driven improvements to the well-used roadway, from Hubach Hill Road to 211th Street.
Former Raymore Councilman Jeff Cox, now the county’s presiding commissioner, had presented a cost-sharing proposal, which asked Raymore to forgo its portion of the county’s road and bridge tax revenues for three years to help pay for the upgrade.
Cass County has 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.
The council declined to contribute to the project, even though several Raymore-Peculiar High School students and other community members spoke in favor it.
“I have hundreds of young people insured, and as ... our city grows, and with more drivers and families, we see more cars on the road,” said Tom Circo, a Raymore insurance agent. “My company and agency has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on damages to vehicles and injuries to people in car wrecks on School Road. We can’t put a price tag on a life. Our young drivers are priceless.”
Chris Benjamin, a Raymore resident, said School Road has been a joke for too long.
“It’s not just another unincorporated, county road,” he said. “It’s the road that our families use to get their children to school ... We finally have a commissioner to put a bold plan together to get this done, and I believe it’s incumbent for our local leaders to work together in a partnership to fix this road.”
School district officials, including Raymore-Peculiar Superintendent Jeff Kyle, school board President Kim York and board member Leo Anderson also spoke in favor of Cox’s plan.
York said the county is asking the city for 10 percent of the cost, so that 100 percent of Raymore’s children will benefit.
“The high school might not be in Raymore, but every Raymore child that attends public schools will attend that high school,” York said.
However, Raymore resident Betty Kowalewich, 82, was firmly against the city using tax money to pay for county roads.
“It’s like New York asking Chicago to pave our streets and do our sidewalks,” she said. “What kind of answer do you think Chicago would give New York?”
City Council Member Ryan Wescoat spoke against approving the agreement, stating that Raymore sends $3 million in taxes to the county each year.
“What do we get for it?” he asked. “I say, it’s about ... time to pave School Road. We’ve sent millions of dollar down, and very few dollars come up.”
The Cass County Commission intends to continue with the initial phases of the project and look for other funding.