Residents put in 2 cents on ECO2 tax proposal

A group backing a plan to develop industrial land and preserve open space had a second public forum Monday night.

The ECO2 committee, formed by the Chamber of Commerce in 2000, asked for input on a plan that would increase sales taxes by 1/4-cent to spur development and preserve green space.

Three more public meetings are scheduled for input on ECO2:

7 p.m. tonight, Lecompton Community Building7 p.m. Wednesday, Mental Health Building 2nd floor meeting rooms, 200 Maine7 p.m. May 8, Eudora City Hall

The ECO2 draft document can be viewed at

The input from about 30 people at the Community Mental Health Building ran the gamut from support to extreme disapproval of any plan to raise taxes.

Jim Richie, Lawrence, said he was against any new tax, especially a sales tax because it affects food.

“Texas is starting to look awfully good for us retired people,” he said, adding that the state has a lower sales tax rate.

Jason Fizell, executive director of Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance, said the ECO2 initiative was a good way to develop jobs and preserve open space.

“I think these are two valuable goals, and if we educated people to tell them if they buy a $100 DVD player and it will cost them a quarter more, I think they’ll do it,” he said.

The ECO2 committee is collecting public input before preparing a final document. The 1/4-cent sales tax, which is projected to raise $22.6 million in 10 years, could go up for public vote in November’s general election.

Many people raised the question of preserving open space. Under the ECO2 plan, landowners would voluntarily sell development rights on their land to organizations such as the Kansas Land Trust so that it would remain agricultural or open space.

Don Cashatt, rural Baldwin, said farmers were happy to be left alone.

“It’s amazing to me how much city people worry about farmers,” he said.

Carol Francis, Lawrence, said she supported the initiative because it could preserve historical sites such as Oregon Trail ruts in Douglas County.

“Perhaps this group can be the one to protect and preserve Douglas County’s unique environs,” she said.