On August 7, the City of Lake Lotawana will be asking our citizens to vote on Ballot Question #1: Whether to increase our mill levy ceiling to .79 per $100 of assessed property value.

A few weeks ago, I introduced the mill levy increase idea, and walked through the history of how the current day situation evolved. In my last article, I described how the City would utilize the increment funds to stabilize, train, and improve our City Police team.

This week I will discuss how the incremental revenue will be used to right-size the City footprint.

The City of Lake Lotawana is a small, tight-knit community, with a distinct culture. Nearly twenty years ago, City leadership decided to expand our boundaries via two annexation initiatives. The first initiative involved adding the property just beyond the lake, but north of Highway 50. The strategic reasoning for this expansion was well thought out. The City would now have greater control over our watershed, and the development adjacent to the original City footprint. This strategic expansion gave the community greater control over the growth, green space, and drainage in the lake’s immediate area.

Soon thereafter, the City engaged in a voluntary annexation process for the area south of Highway 50. There were visions of retail development, subdivisions, and a new taxing authority (the Lake Lotawana Community Improvement District) to help the area grow. These visions did not adequately consider the costs, cultural impact, macroeconomic conditions, nor the future strains these additions would put on our community.

In the community’s recently completed Comprehensive Plan (available on the city website), the team polled, interviewed and surveyed a good cross section of our community. The research concluded there was overwhelming support to consider all options available to right-size our City boundaries.

In the last year we have been able to cleanly separate responsibilities between the City and the Lake Lotawana Community Improvement District (CID), help the CID negotiate through their bankruptcy process, and absolve the City of any liability for the sewer system south of Highway 50. These steps were critical in making any future planning considerations possible.

Depending on the path we select for that area, we will be treading on uncharted legal ground. The State of Missouri does not provide communities a clear path for de-annexation. Additional resources are necessary to follow through on this community-requested initiative.

My original plea on the proposed mill levy increase was for citizens to ask questions, get involved in the discussion, and talk with their Aldermen. We are now only three weeks out from the election. Please take the time to make inquiries, research the topic, and vote on August 7. You can preview the ballot and find your polling place at the Jackson County Election Board website: https://www.jcebmo.org/election-information/.

There is also a great deal of information available at http://www.lotawanafuture.com. If you have any questions, please drop me a note at smiles@lakelotawana.org and I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion.

And finally, on July 26 I am hosting another “Coffee with the Mayor” session at 7 p.m. Please call City Hall to register and join us!!

Scott Miles, Mayor
City of Lake Lotawana