Do you support the city studying the privatization of the city’s trash system?
I would support studying the privatization of the city’s trash system, but I must say that overall, the solid waste department does a very good job. One must remember that when you outsource a city department’s function, you lose control of both the financial and the operational aspect of that department.
I do not support the idea of privatizing our city’s trash service. This is an important service that touches every citizen and we are doing a good job with it. We should always be looking for ways to improve our service, so I do support the idea of looking at best practices of other cities as well as private companies to see what we can learn.
No, I firmly believe that this service should remain a municipally owned service. The taxpayers have helped pay for the organization and infrastructure over the decades that provides employment managed locally in Lawrence.
I am in favor of studying the current services provided by the City of Lawrence and determining how we can continue to provide the highest quality service for the most reasonable cost. Our city has a highly respected solid waste department that provides excellent service to all of its customers. Over the last few years, private companies have been providing the citizens of Lawrence with curbside recycling at a reasonable cost, but the long-term goal should be to reduce the wear and tear on our city streets from multiple providers using heavy equipment, reduce the amount of waste that is generated to keep our costs down and extend the life of our local landfill and create a unified approach to solid waste services in Lawrence. The end goal of any study should include the cost of providing an integrated level of service to all residential and commercial customers. Once the costs are identified, an evaluation of how the City of Lawrence can provide the services at the most competitive rate should be completed.
It is fiscally responsible to evaluate the cost and service level of our city services to ensure that taxpayers are receiving good value for their tax dollars. Our city’s trash collectors do a great job. However, new technology and improved efficiencies may suggest better ways to provide this basic service. Nevertheless, before I vote to privatize the service, any cost savings and service levels must be significant. I would require assurances that, once committed to a private vendor, Lawrence could not be held hostage to later rate increases and/or cuts in service or quality if the solid waste collection were privatized.
Do you support the city’s decision to take over ownership of the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant and its plans to convert the area into an industrial/business park?
Yes, I think this is truly a great opportunity to provide a very large area for many more potential industrial customers as well as clean up our east entrance into Lawrence.
I was involved in the decision making regarding the city taking over ownership of the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant. As a current city commissioner, and environmental consultant, I carefully evaluated the technical documents provided by the former owner of the property and was involved in meetings with the State agencies charged with overseeing the cleanup required at the property. I was in favor of the acquisition and am confident the property will provide the city of Lawrence with a viable and attractive location for the growth of existing businesses and allow us to attract new businesses to our community. The Farmland redevelopment offers the community a unique opportunity to beautify a major entrance tot he city, improve the environment, acquire much needed industrial land for job creation, and shape the future of our eastern border.
Yes. This decision made sense not only from the standpoint of increasing available sites for new businesses to locate or existing businesses to expand, but also ensured that decisions involving future use of the Farmland property remain firmly in the hands of the community. While there are costs associated with environmental contamination, I believe that the risk is minimized by the $8.5 million left in trust to clean the property as well as the value of the land and scrap metal remaining on the property. The city was able to purchase the property at a nominal cost and there is clearly great potential for economic development despite the need for additional infrastructure investment.
Yes, I support the decision to purchase the Farmland plant and convert it to an industrial/business park. This is a great example of city leadership being proactive in our efforts to increase jobs and income for Lawrence residents. I’m enthusiastic about the potential outcome and look forward to doing my part to see that this project is a winner.
The Farmland site along the K-10 corridor has needed redevelopment for a long time. While I am very pleased that efforts are being made to redevelop the property, I would have preferred that the city not be the main owner. In terms of economic opportunity we should have already seen some results here so my question is when are we going to see new site work and buildings appear and at what stage is the current master plan for this redevelopment? Tax abatements would be considered for new investment here but my own policy is to discourage TIF or other additional sales tax districts.
How would you rate the overall condition of city streets on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent?
Investment in infrastructure, including city streets, will be one of my priorities when establishing the next city budget. This is a critical basic function of city government and we need to ensure that a street maintenance program is adequately funded without increasing taxes. More investment is needed, but I decline to provide an overall rating without the benefit of a more complete overview of the condition of city streets.
I believe that the condition of the city streets is a subject of careful evaluation every year. Using the pavement condition index (PCI), the city has been carefully evaluating the condition of our many miles of streets and has been modifying our long and short term repair programs accordingly. We have focused on the condition of our roads over the last few years and have improved the overall condition of the roads in Lawrence since I have been on the commission. Major road improvement projects and routine maintenance procedures have been implemented to assure that the roads in Lawrence improve long term. We can always do better, but I would rate the current condition of the roads at 7.
Some newer areas I would rate a 7 to 9, while some of the older and more heavily traveled areas I would grade as a 2 to 3. Overall I would rate streets of the entire city as a 4.
I would have to rate the overall condition of our streets at a 4. In the past, short-sighted decisions were made to use lower quality materials in order to build roads faster and cheaper. Our community deserves better. The good news is that there is a plan and this problem is being addressed. The City is back to using adequate materials so that roads will last about 10 years longer than our current roads.
I would rate our city streets 6 on a numerical scale. Well-maintained streets will help to increase the appeal of Lawrence to visitors. Truck traffic, drainage, and our subsoil are all part of the problem in maintaining our streets.
Do you believe the city needs a recreation center to serve the western portion of the city, and would you work to move that project forward during your term?
A new recreation center will meet recreational needs created by Lawrence’s growth to the west. I do not support a tax increase for a new recreation center at this time, but I am willing to consider the project provided it can be financed by reallocating existing sales tax revenue as well as money raised through private donations. I see an economic impact value if the facility could also be used to attract sports tournaments that would bring in visitors to Lawrence. Therefore, I am open to planning that would move this project forward.
Adequate recreational facilities are an important factor in the quality of life and overall health of a community. I would like to see additional recreational facilities in the western portion of the city. However, timing may be an issue, given the budget challenges we currently face.
Yes, I strongly support a new recreation center for the western portion of Lawrence. I would additionally support a branch library in the future in West Lawrence. If we can find a way through grants and budgeting to develop a new recreation center for West Lawrence that would be a great accomplishment of the next city commission.
I believe that we need to continue to evaluate the location of our recreational centers as it relates to the geographic location of our citizens. It has been made clear by many inside the city and outside recreational leaders that Lawrence needs additional indoor recreational space including sport courts. Given the current economic climate, it would be difficult to construct and operate additional recreational facilities in our community without outside investment. If a suitable public/private partnership was established that would serve the needs of the community, I would be in favor of exploring that opportunity.
I think a western recreation center would be very well received. The big question is, of course, is it affordable?
Do you support the use of incentives such as Community Improvement Districts and Transportation Development Districts that allow businesses to charge an additional sales tax to help pay for improvements at their properties?
I support these type of incentives but only for exceptional projects, and with some additional caveats. I do not support the use of these incentives for the Hobby Lobby area improvements. If the CID tax is not limited to 1 percent it is possible that we could have some sales tax rates exceeding 10 percent at locations in Lawrence. The city should prohibit the use of CID revenue for private expenditures and should only be approved by the use of special obligation bonds that do not place any risk upon local taxpayers. Overland Park has made additional restrictions upon CID usage. Notice of additional sales tax should be required to be posted at all current TIF, CID, or TDD districts. CID, TDD or TIFs should not be allowed where they would place an additional tax upon groceries. The city policy on the use of CIDs should be more restrictive than the range of options offered by state law, in other words we should tailor the use of these for the benefit of Lawrence, not simply out of expediency for one project.
Yes, but on a limited and clearly-defined basis. I support the use of tax incentives to promote large, existing commercial projects that require infrastructure improvements due to age or decline. I also support projects that benefit the community but may not be financially feasible by a single or limited number of businesses (e.g. support of a grocery store or pharmacy in an underserved area of the community). I am concerned that broad usage of these tools may create a confusing array of sales tax districts and may deter consumers outside Lawrence from shopping here because of a perception that we have higher sales taxes. To ensure consistency and fairness, the city commission should develop standards for when it is appropriate to use these incentives, including requiring specific plans outlining how the tax dollars will be used.
Very sparingly, if at all. The situation should be truly unique, be for redevelopment purposes only, be otherwise impossible to accomplish without it, and have the general support of the citizenry. I would vote no on the current request before the city commission for a CID on 23rd Street, which includes Hobby Lobby, Jimmy Johns and Yokohama Sushi. I feel there is sufficient market activity in this general commercial district that would encourage developer interest in order to make an investment. The taxpayer should not bear the burden of this redevelopment.
As with tax abatements, I believe that incentives like CIDs and TDDs must be looked at on a case-by-case basis. However, I would work to clarify the criteria for projects to be considered for these kinds of incentives.
I have historically been in favor of the use of as Community Improvement Districts and Transportation Development Districts as a tool for businesses to help pay for improvements at their properties. The use of such tools is governed by state law, and the application of the incentives has been on a case-by-case basis.
How would you rate the quality and effectiveness of the city’s public transit system on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent?
I would rate the quality and effectiveness fairly high. However, we should consider how we can encourage more residents to ride the bus. This would have the benefit of increasing ridership, promoting environmentally friendly transportation and alleviating parking space limitations downtown. Partnerships with local businesses, Downtown Lawrence and the Chamber of Commerce should be explored further. Many residents rely on public transit to get to work, do their shopping and get to appointments, so it is important that it can continue to cost-effectively operate the system.
I believe that the condition of the transit system is better than it has been in many years. By approving the ballot initiative two years ago, the citizens of Lawrence empowered the city to make the investments necessary to provide a higher quality and more effective system. Through a coordinated effort with the University of Kansas, we have begun implementing new, coordinated routes that make using the system more convenient and sustainable. Ridership has been positively impacted by the changes, and new hybrid buses will help improve the fuel efficiency of our fleet. New, appropriately sized vehicles have been ordered and place into service and plans have been made to further integrate the two transit systems. The transit system offers transportation to workers and students, and is an economic development tool that allows Lawrence to compete against other cities when businesses consider relocation. I would give the transit system a rating of 6, and am hopeful through continued improvement and integration that we will create an even better system.
I would rate the quality and effectiveness of our public transit system a 6. The only thing holding me back from a rating of 7 is the current number of riders. We need to continue strengthening our partnership with the university in order to maximize ridership.
I would rate our current system only a 4, mostly due to both the limited number of routes and to the limited frequency on those routes. I fully support the merger of the City of Lawrence and KU bus systems.
I think things are going in a much better direction with the integration of the KU bus system as well as operating much smaller busses. I would rate the system an 8. The city needs to achieve a much higher level of rider activity. In the future, the city may want to look at demand response instead of fixed routes if the economics of the current system don’t improve.