Frustrated by a lack of public comment about a proposed taxi-voucher system for public transportation, Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday suggested sending a financing proposal for citywide bus service to a public vote.
The commission already has given its preliminary approval to an ordinance providing a 1-mill tax levy to fund public transportation.
But so far, at least, nobody seems to know if the public wants to spend the estimated $270,000 in tax money on taxi vouchers.
``I've not heard anybody say it's a good deal, and I'm not going to spend the money if the public isn't happy with it,'' Commissioner Bob Schumm said. ``Somebody has to tell me they want it before I spend any money.''
Commissioners discussed the issue Tuesday night while considering the city's 1993 Unified Work Program and Scope of Services, which allow for planning of city roads and transportation systems. Both items were approved.
The public-transportation issue, however, remains unresolved.
BY PUTTING the bus question up for a vote, citizens would more or less be forced to support the taxi-voucher system, Commissioner John Nalbandian said.
Otherwise, he said, supporters would risk losing any system for public transportation.
``Are they willing to pay 4 mills?'' Nalbandian asked, referring to the expected property-tax increase tied to starting a bus service. ``They're going to say no.
``People have not had to confront the choices we've had to confront. We need to force people to confront the reality of that choice.''
Commissioner Bob Walters said the taxi-voucher system would serve as a ``proving ground'' for any future bus service.
Taxi vouchers would subsidize Lawrence residents' taxi rides in town, City Manager Mike Wildgen said. Disabled and elderly residents would be able to use the taxis at reduced rates.
Commissioners would need to hear public comment before March 8 for the issue to be on the April 6 ballot, Wildgen said.
HERE'S what else happened at Tuesday's meeting:
On the consent agenda, commissioners approved:
Minutes from various city meetings.
Payment of city bills: $438,272 to 138 vendors.
An ordinance on final reading to amend the city code, deleting the specific number of site plans to be submitted for review.
An ordinance on final reading to amend the city code, requiring that the location of the nearest section's, or quarter section's, corner be shown on a plat along with a description tying it to the point where the subdivision begins.
An ordinance on final reading to amend the city code, allowing for adaptive reuse of properties listed as landmarks or as parts of historic districts, and placing restrictions on such applications.
On the regular agenda, commissioners:
Adopted a revised draft of the city's 1993 Legislative Program. The program, to be presented Thursday to the city's state legislators, includes statements that: encourage the Legislature to reform the workers compensation system to ``reduce the number of inappropriate claims'' and lower insurance and claim costs; notify legislators that the city might change its tax-abatement policies as the policies apply to companies' multiple applications and tax-break requests for retooling; ask the Legislature to clarify the state's regulatory roles concerning historic preservation, lawn irrigation and power line installation; and outline the city's opposition to any amendments to the Water Transfer Act, or other laws or regulations, ``that will negatively affect Lawrence's current and future water resources.'' Other priorities include preserving the city's home-rule authority and opposing a state property-tax lid or adjustments to the state's motor vehicle tax.
Took no action on the city engineer's report saying that traffic signals are not needed at the intersection of Eighth Street and Kasold Drive, a T-intersection currently controlled by three-way stop signs. The commission asked Terese Gorman, city engineer, to look into the need for traffic lights at the intersection; Gorman reported that none of the 11 possible reasons for adding signals there were met. Schumm argued that traffic lights would allow for faster traffic flow through the intersection. Nalbandian said that if unnecessary signals were added at this intersection, then ``I don't know how you can say no to a traffic signal anywhere else'' in the city.
Canceled the following commission meetings: March 9 (commissioners gone for a meeting with congressional leaders in Washington, D.C.), March 23 (spring break), and June 29, Aug. 31 and Nov. 30, which are the fifth Tuesdays of the those months. Following policy, the commission is to have a maximum of four weekly commission meetings each month.