The Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday granted a tax abatement request for Packer Plastics.
Packer's request entails a 50 percent, 10-year abatement of property taxes due on machinery and equipment stemming from a $3 million industrial revenue bond issue.
The commission voted 4-1 to grant the request and instructed the city staff to prepare the necessary documents for the abatement.
Commissioner Bob Walters came out strongly for the abatement, saying Packer has "an awfully fine track record" in the community. In previous expansions, he said, Packer has usually exceeded its job creation estimates. Jim Schwartzburg, Packer president, has estimated the expansion would create 22 jobs.
MAYOR BOB Schumm pointed out that Packer would be paying nearly $400,000 more in taxes even with the abatement.
The lone dissenter Tuesday was Commissioner Mike Rundle, who has been a strong advocate for revamping the city's tax abatement policy. While he acknowledged the jobs that would be created and said he liked Packer's plans for using recycled plastic products, Rundle said he thought the commission still had a lot of work ahead of it on the abatement policy.
"I think we made a lot of progress in our study session (Monday)," Rundle said. With continued study and input from the joint city-county economic development council, Rundle said he thinks his concerns can be addressed.
Rundle has called for the city to require an analysis showing the city's benefit in granting abatements. He also is seeking a mechanism that binds companies to meet job and payroll claims made in their abatement applications.
"My negative vote is just the vigilant reminder that we need to refine these policies," he said.
Commissioners plan to discuss the city's tax abatement policy again during an upcoming study session.
IN OTHER action Tuesday, commissioners:
Unanimously approved a statement of objectives drawn up by Walters for the Mayor's Task Force on Substance Abuse. The major charge of the task force will be to consider and make recommendations about new programs and funding resources for prevention, education and treatment of drug abuse and what new programs should be targeted to what populations. Commissioners also added two members to the task force: Mike Smith, representing Haskell Indian Junior College; and Reggie Robinson, a member of the Human Resources Commission, to represent the minority viewpoint. The task force's next meeting is scheduled for Monday.
Scheduled a discussion on the proposed code of ethics for elected and appointed city officials for the commission's next regular meeting, March 13 at 6:35 p.m. Commissioners won't meet next Tuesday because several of them are planning to attend the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C.
Commissioner Shirley Martin-Smith said she feels the commission needs to quickly resolve the issue of whether a city official can serve on a public agency. Martin-Smith recently was named president of United Way of Douglas County.
In a single motion, the commission unanimously approved the following items on the consent agenda:
Minutes from recent meetings of the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Library Board.
First reading of an ordinance amending the joint city-county subdivision regulations pertaining to the planting of street trees in city subdivisions.
A request to close Massachusetts Street between 11th and 13th Streets and South Park and North Park roads from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 6 for Art in the Park.
Bids on the following items: 25 fire hydrants; 754 water meters; 3,000 feet of eight-inch PVC pipe; Wakarusa pump station repairs.
Setting 10 a.m. March 14 as the date to receive bids for the following projects: 1990 pavement marking program; 1990 curb repair program; and water line replacement on Louisiana Street, from 19th to 23rd streets.
Soliciting proposals for purchase and development of seven single-family lots in Block 2, Chaparral Park Subdivision.
A resolution ordering sanitary sewer improvements in Lindsey Heights, and authorizing the hiring of a consultant.
A request from Westlake Hardware, 711 W. 23rd, for a temporary-use permit for seasonal sales from March 10 to Sept. 10.
After removing the following items from the consent agenda for further discussion, commissioners:
Unanimously approved minutes of the commission's most recent meeting.
Voted 4-1, with Commissioner David Penny opposed, to adopt an ordinance permitting consumption of alcohol on the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza site.
Voted 4-0-1, with Penny abstaining, to adopt an ordinance relating to consumption of alcohol in public places.
Voted 4-0-1, with Penny abstaining, to adopt a charter ordinance repealing a previous charter ordinance relating to consumption of alcohol in public places.
Unanimously set 10 a.m. March 14 as the date to receive bids for street and curb improvements in the 1000 block of Massachusetts.
Unanimously authorized the acting city manager to sign an agreement with Black and Veatch for construction phase services related to a project at Clinton Reservoir Pump Station.
On the regular agenda, commissioners:
Unanimously approved a site plan for Kinedyne Corp., to be located on lot 6, block 3, East Hills Business Park.
Voted 4-1, with Penny opposed, to approve a text amendment to the city zoning ordinance to create a single-family residence estate zoning district.
Unanimously approved a Traffic Safety Commission recommendation to install stop signs on North Third at Lincoln, making a four-way stop at the intersection, and removing parking at all four corners.
Voted unanimously to concur with the TSC's recommendation to deny a request to move yield signs from Elm Street to North Eighth Street.
Voted unanimously to concur with the TSC's recommendation to install a sign alerting motorists to curves on West Eighth between Lawrence Avenue and Kasold Drive. Commissioners also voted to post 25 mph speed limit signs on the street, instead of the 20 mph advisory signs recommended by the TSC.
VOTED unanimously to authorize BG Consultants Inc., a Manhattan firm that has a local office, to engineer a traffic signal at 19th and Louisiana, a continuous traffic flow system between Massachusetts and Louisiana streets and to design a traffic signal for 19th and Naismith to incorporate the continuous traffic flow system at a later date. Commissioners also asked BG Consultants to study the intersection at 19th and Kentucky, and to develop a contract to do all of the above engineering work.
The signal improvements are part of an estimated $1 million project to upgrade 19th Street into a major east-west traffic corridor.
Voted unanimously to deny a variance for four large signs but approved a variance for four smaller signs requested by Ampride, 1000 E. 23rd.
Adjourned the meeting until 11:45 a.m. March 12, when the commission will meet in executive session to conduct interviews with candidates for the city manager's position. The meeting will be at the Eldridge Hotel.