Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mayor touts sales tax to merchants

Downtown Lawrence Inc. members voice concerns about Amyx’s proposal

August 17, 2006


Mayor Mike Amyx hasn't given up on the idea of a new 1-cent sales tax to pay for infrastructure and property tax relief.

Amyx was out Wednesday touting the plan to members of Downtown Lawrence Inc. And he said he planned to make many more presentations to the various civic organizations in hopes of bringing the issue back up at the City Commission in the next few months.

"I still think my plan is a great idea," Amyx said. "I still stand behind it."

Amyx last month proposed a new 1-cent, citywide sales tax that would automatically sunset after 10 years. He proposes using about half of the estimated $120 million the tax would generate to fund street maintenance, stormwater improvements and sidewalk work.

The remaining $60 million would be placed in a unique, interest-bearing endowment fund. The interest proceeds would be used to fund other infrastructure needs. With the new sales tax, Amyx also is proposing the city reduce its property tax rate by about 5 mills.

Amyx, though, was unable to convince a majority of city commissioners to move ahead on the plan before they approved the city's 2007 budget earlier this month. Any new sales tax ultimately would require a citywide election.

The plan drew disfavor from some downtown merchants, gathered for a quarterly meeting Wednesday.

"It just seems like the easiest answer for government always is to raise taxes," said Walt Houk, of the downtown travel agency Travellers Inc. "If you can't live within your means, lay someone off, reduce a health benefit, do the type of things that businesses have to do."

Other merchants said they were concerned that additional sales tax - which would bring Lawrence's rate to 8.3 percent - would slow sales, particularly as more shoppers are turning to the Internet for purchases.

"There are a lot of people in this room getting pressured by the Internet," said Pat Kehde, an owner of the Raven Bookstore. "I'm not sure it is accurate to assume that sales are always going to go up in Douglas County."

Amyx said he was open to other ideas. He said he was open to cutting city services in order to avoid an increase in tax rates, but he said he's not sure that is really what the public wants.

"Maybe we're at that point," Amyx said. "Maybe we have to go to our department heads and say we have to look at things in a different light. But we also have to ask ourselves what the service expectation levels are from our citizens. Are they too high? I don't know, but I do get a lot of calls asking for new services."

Amyx said an alternative to a new sales tax could be to examine the existing 1-cent citywide sales tax voters approved in 1994 - which has largely been used for park projects - to see if some of that funding could be redirected.

The idea of a new sales tax had some support among the merchants. Bob Schumm, an owner of Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse and Mass Street Deli, praised Amyx for making the proposal. He said a sales tax would allow the city to better capture revenues from university students who may not own property in the city and from out-of-town visitors.

"I think it really is about what tax do you like the best," Schumm told the group. "And I don't think it is very realistic to choose none of the above."


lunacydetector 7 years, 8 months ago

why not charge each KU student $100 per semester. THAT would pay for some infrastructure.


Marion Lynn 7 years, 8 months ago


My comment on your post will most likely garner you no support but I will say that I know that you and you wife are two of the hardest working people whom I know.

For this and other reasons (Wink!) you will always have my ultimate respect.

Your wife and yourself are not only The Salt Of The Earth but the kind of people who built this great nation.

I am proud and honoured to be included in your circle of friendship!

Thank you.



Kelly Powell 7 years, 8 months ago

unite2revolt....My wife and i own a home...We are not "money grubbing landlords"...what we are is a couple who has seen their property tax increase and increase....we do not and will not have children, but are forced to help pay for others...fine...a sales tax goes across the board...I am with amyx on this.


ljreader 7 years, 8 months ago

Must everything and everybody always "tout" something in Lawrence?

3 headlines (just in the past month)- Maybe more. I got bored looking and 2264 stories in the JW uses the word "touts".

Story:Mayor touts sales tax to merchants

Story: KU museum touts rare painting (Saturday, July 15, 2006)

Story: Yahoo! touts beauty of Kansas prairie preserve (Saturday, July 15, 2006)

Hey headline writers- I tout the use of a thesaurus.


Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Just because you dont own property do not think for a moment you dont pay paroperty taxes. Your landlord passes those taxes on to you. Anyone who claims otherwise is an idiot or lying to you.


Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

All those builder, real estate,flooring and window people posing as city,county and planning commissioners really set up the taxpayers. Instead of concentrating about 50% of their efforts on light industrial and higher paying salaried positions that would generate revenue all they approved were housing/residential projects.

Now the you know what is hitting the fan.


Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

The city currently has about 122 million in the bank gathering interest. Some bank would love to have another 60 million sitting around in their bank.


Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Yes I understand who is running in the next election. I can't vote against His Mayorness this election. But I can vote against the three Progressive Amigos who played a major role in where we are today.


bobesue 7 years, 8 months ago

"He proposes using about half of the estimated $120 million the tax would generate to fund street maintenance, stormwater improvements and sidewalk work." I thought we already paid "stormwater" fees for stormwater improvements. Where is that money going?


unite2revolt 7 years, 8 months ago

Sales tax is a regressive tax, why on EARTH would you increase sales tax while decreasing property tax? Unless of course you are a greedy money grubbing landlord, then it would make some sense. Or maybe your campaign funds come from landlords? People already find it cheaper to buy things outside of town as it is.


billyflay 7 years, 8 months ago

by all means do not build a resort on the lake it might create new non polluting jobs and throw off some tax dollars,

it is much better to maintain the status quo with jobs and raise the sales tax on existing bidnesses,


Bowhunter99 7 years, 8 months ago

NO " unique, interest-bearing endowment fund."

That's politician for 'money we can waste on whatever the h*ll we want!!!!


Marion Lynn 7 years, 8 months ago

You folks haven't yet figured out what is REALLY going on here, have you?

You see, the "Progressives (Read: "Repressive/Incompetents") controlled the Komission for the last few years and during that time ignored the sewer issue, the deteriorating streets, the failing water mains; Rundle even PUBLICLY stated that he just could not understand why water bills were going up!, while advancing the No Growth pland of the "Smart(Read"Dumb") Growthers, fighting Wal Mart, enacting bans instead of dealing with the serious issues facing the City.

Amyx is being very smart here.

He is giving the citizens the options this time instead of ruber-stamping as the "Progressives" have done.

He leaves open the option to cut city spending and return Lawrence to reality.

You will note that those participants in the LJW forums known to have supported the "Progressives" are now popping out all over the place!


They are AFRAID; that's why!

They realise that the people of Lawrence are recognising that the "Progressive" agenda leads to a Black Hole and are fearful that those "Progressives" remaining on the Kommission will be sent packing by a resentful and angry populace.

We can only hope that such is the case.

The "Progressives" are sticking together on thier own pet issues; "greenspace", etc and over-riding the Mayor's advice.

The "Progressives" are now attempting to get as much of their agenda enacted as possible before they are booted.

Tha's OK.

Laws and programs can be UN-DONE just as easily as they are done.




stbaker 7 years, 8 months ago

If I am understanding correctly, the city want a 1% sales tax increase, right? The school board wants to raise the district property tax to increase revenue for the district, right? Well...For those of us who live in the county, do all of our shopping in Lawrence (groceries, retail, etc) and our property is in the district, we're getting a double hit. If the new tax increases go forward, that is...


conservative 7 years, 8 months ago

Iristh1230, This proposed tax has nothing to do with schools. The schools are moving forward with their mill levy increase.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

"I will be voting for whoever runs against the Kurrent Kommission next election."

Mayor Amyx is the one proposing a tax increase, but he's not up for election. Which means that removing the PLC canditates would quite likely lead to a tax increase.


Lori Nation 7 years, 8 months ago

with all of our kids in public schools in lawrence we are all for the sales tax increase that would mean relief for all those paying parents. if you need help with getting this pushed throught let us know.


justthefacts 7 years, 8 months ago

Ditto on every word in conservative's short and sweet response.

If Mayor A and his buddies want to spend money to fix up the places around their own homes and businesses, let them personally pay for it!!!! The rest of us are sick and tired of paying for ugly sculptures, round-a-bouts that only those who build them benefit from, and other "nice things" that the majority of tax payers do not like or support.

Live within your budget mayor. Quit finding new ways to spend more money we don't have!


Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

I pity all those other foolish other towns and cities with their unenlightened Mayors and Commissions who reduce taxes and government interference with business in their effort to reduce the costs of living and attract new residents and business! They have it quite wrong!


tolawdjk 7 years, 8 months ago

No, not just Pooper's Rights. Squatter's Rights.


Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Simply raise taxes and we will have non-polluting high salaried jobs! Who knew it was that easy? Hurry up will yeah! Quick before the rest of the country finds out Lawrence Kansas's secret. Pretty soon every city and town in Kansas will be in a race to raise their taxes higher than Lawrence just to keep all their high paying jobs from moving here. I am sure all these new people that who will flock here will also lead to zero growth. Next our City Moron will be telling us higher taxes shall lead to a lower cost of living.

Unless the Lawrence City Kommission have discovered some new form of ecomomics that has been heretofore unkown, this is the stupidest idea since $1,000,000 roundabouts and the millions to subsidize nearly empty buses (you know how running the "emp-T" buses is non-polluting, street friendly, and reduces traffic congestion).

Is there not one member of the City Kommission that has the courage to reduce the size and cost of city government, the discipline to live within their current budget, or honesty to tell us what we already know, "We have wasted your money with frivolous pet projects and have created a anti-business anti-growth climate. Now we want more of your money so that we don't have to make the tough choices."

I will be voting for whoever runs against the Kurrent Kommission next election. Simply put, Lawrence deserves better. No matter who runs they can't be any worse and with any luck they will have a better grasp of basic economics and on reality.


Marion Lynn 7 years, 8 months ago


"high salaried non polluting" employers?

You mean that these new compnaies can't have rest rooms but pay the employees a lot?

Now that is jus UN-DEMOCRATIC!

I mean, I mean, I mean, it's bad enough that so many folks have to go outside of Lawrence to work but to make them go outside of Lawrence to take pee?


You've gone TOO FAR, this time!

POOPER'S RIGHTS, I tell you!




macon47 7 years, 8 months ago

more taxes the better , more parks, more free stuff, thats what we want


Kathy Gragg 7 years, 8 months ago

now there's a good idea, same with sidewalks, I was born in another State and there they do assessments for replacement and repairs of side walks, they add the cost and distributed between property owners in the area, multifamily units pay a higher percentage and it averages out that they pay the larger cost about every 10 years. Those on corner lots tend to have more out put for these projects due to front and side both being on their tab. roundabouta could be distributed to every owner within a 3 block or so radius; decreasing individual costs.


conservative 7 years, 8 months ago

Read my lips.


The city needs to live within their means. Infrastructure needs to come first. Trim employees where possible (and don't tell me there aren't places that can be done), and cut down on optional items in the budget such as replacing perfectly fine tree borders downtown with grates.


plumberscrack 7 years, 8 months ago

Solomon- Just what is a "progressive" so we can 'get rid' of them? What does a "progressive" look like? If your serious about finding solutions to the financial problems within the city government, we must first stop with these "idiot" labels!

What I suggest is since the neighborhoods are the ones asking for the roundabouts, have the neighborhoods pay for them in the form of 'special assessments'. Probably a lot of requests for roundabouts will decline when THEY have to pay for them in the form of special assessments!


Eybea Opiner 7 years, 8 months ago

Yes, by all means we should bring in high-salaried, non-polluting employers to Lawrence. The higher, the better. In fact, let's limit it to $60K per year, excluding options and bonuses, of course.

On the other hand, you can't build an economy on "high-salaried" employees alone. Lawrence is so anti-business that we will be lucky to draw any enterprise to the city.

Get rid of the "progressives" who stopped progress, and maybe the city can began to move forward.


classclown 7 years, 8 months ago

Put tolls on the roundabouts so that they may pay for themselves.


Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

My suggestion was: Do a 1/2 cent grocery exempt sales tax.

1/4 cent to provide very active city staffing that would focus on nothing else but bringing high salaried non polluting employers to Lawrence. 12,000 - 15,000 commuters leaving Lawrence at least 5 days a week says we need to do something that would make that tax pay for itself.

1/4 cent to the school district as new employers take a hard look at public school systems. Hopefully with a new state school board on the horizon Kansas will be taken from the national spotlight for moving backwards.

Otherwise forget the sales tax altogether.

No matter what: Put the street repairs on a 5 year plan using existing resources and/or add money if tax revenues see a nice boost from sales. The street situation took about 20 years to develop so cannot be fixed overnight. Lets's be patient. Streets that are not in perfect condition will act as traffic calming devices.


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