Archive for Sunday, August 27, 2006

Critics of property tax increase say: ‘Senior citizens are being thrown to the wolves’

School district says revenue needed

August 27, 2006


The thought is almost enough to make Scott Henderson lose his appetite.

It wasn't long ago that he and his wife, Betty, realized they were spending more in property taxes each month than they were on groceries.

"That makes me sick to think about," said Henderson, a retired Hallmark Cards employee.

Henderson pays about $200 per month in property taxes on his $190,000 southwest Lawrence home. His grocery bill is usually something less than $50 per week because it's just the two of them at home these days.

What's certain is that Henderson's $200 per month tax bill will go up in 2007. The final piece in determining how much it will go up is scheduled to be made by Lawrence school board members on Monday. The board will consider increasing the school district's property tax rate by 6.437 mills.

The city and county commissions already have finalized their mill levies - with each choosing to keep rates virtually unchanged. But both commissions did so knowing that tax bills would rise anyway, because the value of Lawrence homes has increased by about 4.5 percent on average.

Lawrence resident Scott Henderson, a retired Hallmark Cards employee, says it's getting harder and harder for senior citizens on fixed incomes to keep up with property taxes. He and his wife pay about $200 in property taxes a month on their home, which is more than they spend on groceries.

Lawrence resident Scott Henderson, a retired Hallmark Cards employee, says it's getting harder and harder for senior citizens on fixed incomes to keep up with property taxes. He and his wife pay about $200 in property taxes a month on their home, which is more than they spend on groceries.

If school board members agree to the full 6.437 mill levy increase made possible when state legislators passed a new school finance bill, property taxes on a $150,000 home in the district would increase by about 10 percent, when factoring in a 4.5 percent increase in the home's value. The tax increase equates to about an extra $200 per year for a $150,000 home.

Senior struggles

Henderson, who unsuccessfully ran for the City Commission in 1999, said retirees on fixed incomes are most likely to be hurt by a tax increase. He said he had urged school board members to think about that before raising the mill levy.

"I've told them they are making poor people out of seniors," Henderson said. "We have worked hard to save money all our lives, and now they're taking it away. I call it legalized robbery because they can do it."

But school board members say the money is desperately needed.

"Our base state aid for the past 10 years has basically lagged pathetically behind any cost-of-living measure you can find," said school board president Sue Morgan.

Property tax calculator (omnibus)

Property tax calculator

Enter the 2005 value of your property and choose whether it is residential or commercial.

Type of property:

Note: values shown are provided for informational purposes only and are based on an average home value increase of 4.5% and the proposed mill levy of $110.06 per $1000 and may not reflect your new property tax amount. Javascript is required to use this calculator.

Now that state legislators have given districts more ability to increase local taxes, Morgan thinks the district needs to seize the opportunity, though the board may do something less than the full 6-mill increase. She said the district was at an important point in its history because more than 40 percent of the district's staff was now 50 years or older.

"They're ready for retirement, and the challenge is going to be to replace those folks with the same quality of people," Morgan said. "That will take some resources."

Plus, board members point out that there hasn't been much public opposition to the proposed increase at school board meetings.

Part of that reason, some seniors said this week, is that no one wants to be accused of being against children or education. One 65-year-old Lawrence woman who refused to give her name said she had a hard time swallowing the proposed tax increase even if it was for children.

The woman, who was at the Douglas County Senior Center, says she receives $467 per month in Social Security benefits. She spends approximately $100 of that on property taxes for the modest Lawrence home she has lived in 15 years.

"I think the children are being pretty well taken care of, but I think the senior citizens are being thrown to the wolves," the woman said.

Elected officials, though, say it takes money to run good governments or school districts. And, they note, few people advocate for a decrease in services.

"But we certainly fill up school board meetings when we talk about cutting services," Morgan said. "We've had 300 or 400 people at meetings telling us why we shouldn't cut something."

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Henderson, though, said he wished governments would look more closely at cost-cutting before raising tax rates.

"They say they don't have choices, but how much money does the school district spend on football, track, basketball and all other sorts of programs that take place outside the classroom?" Henderson said. "I don't want to cut those programs either, but I don't like people choosing between medicine and food, either.

"There are choices that could be made, but they wouldn't make the people who make them very popular."

Business blues

Larry Billings knows at least one other group hurting from property taxes as much as seniors: business owners. In particular, downtown business owners have been seeing large increases in property valuations, which have increased property tax bills.

Also, businesses are taxed on 25 percent of the value of their property, versus the 11.5 percent for residential property.

That combination of higher property values and higher tax rates has been a rough one for Billings, who, with his wife, Gwen, owns the Lawrence Antique Mall, 830 Mass.

If the school board implements its tax increase, combined with a nearly 14 percent increase in his building's valuation, Billings will owe about $6,000 in additional property taxes in 2007. That's on top of increases the last two years that have totaled 52 percent. His total property tax bill will be about $35,000 for a business that largely sells antique dishes, memorabilia and other similar items.

"You just have to get more creative," Billings said of how businesses deal with the increases. "I already work seven days a week because I can't afford to pay for the extra help."

Billings, though, is convinced the downtown will see some significant business closings in the next 12 months, unless the city finds some way - either through property tax rebates or other assistance - to help.

"I really do feel like we're ruining downtown," Billings said. "It won't be our jewel for long. At some point it is going to become a piece of coal, if we don't do something."


Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

*Why is the county and city allowing inflated values of residential and downtown properties to continue?

*Why is that necessary considering our housing tax base has has experienced an enormous expansion during the last 20 years?

*Each year for the past 20 years, with few exceptions, property owners have experienced inflated assesssments in spite of a tremendous tax base expansion.

*Most property owners expect a tax base expansion to keep tax increases at a normal cost of living level or about 3%-4%.

*What has gone wrong during the past 20 years to create this situation? Is there an answer to this question?

*We know this is a situation that was becoming obvious about 12 years ago which more or less dictates a management problem was developing at some point prior.

*Taxpayers deserve an explantion and a new direction in order to alleviate.

Michael McClain 11 years, 8 months ago

The school board has already made up their mind to raise the mill levy. Does that mean if I show up for Monday's meeting it will be a waste of time? I think not! Quoting the article "Plus, board members point out that there hasn't been much public opposition to the proposed increase at school board meetings." Let your voices be heard people... I'll be there...will you?

MWIV 11 years, 8 months ago

The problem is only going to get worse, unless the State and Local Governments quit relying on property taxes. I have said all along that when the baby boomers become senior citizens, which is starting to happen, and their homes are paid off they will really see, some for the first time, just how much they are paying in property taxes. When the tax is included into your monthly payment, it is easy to ignore the problem. The legislators know that. When you have no house payment and you have to pay at least one half of the total annual tax just before Christmas (who's crazy idea was that anyway), bam! People are going to get really upset. Seniors and especially the baby boomers, have a tendency to get their own way. They will become vocal and vote accordingly. Until then, expect to just pay more and more and more.....!

The City and County have no control over the value of real estate. That is a result of our own creed wanting bigger and nicer houses and paying for them. Appraisals are done utilizing comparibles. The more the newcomer into my neighborhood pays for his house, the more mine (if comparable and according to the County they alwas are) is worth and the more I pay in property taxes without the mill levy even increasing.

I am sorry to say that seniors will get hit real hard within the next few years if nothing is done to change this. The only hope is that there will be more people practicing thier civic duty and going to the polls to vote the bums out.

Jeff Barclay 11 years, 8 months ago

Why haven't tax-payers revolted after this junior high debacle on Louisiana? Spending $ is easy when it is someone else's.

not_dolph 11 years, 8 months ago

wah wah wah - we all make choices/decisions on where we live, who we work for, and how we save and invest for our future. I am tired of hearing all this complaining. If you think your property taxes are too high, then move.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

the progressive answer is: if you don't like it, move! the progressive way towards affordable housing, move some place else!

when school enrollments are down because lawrence is shrinking, our taxes go up! this is called 'progress.'

someone told me that our taxes are higher than olathe, lenexa, overland park, topeka etc. i'd like to see a comparison to see if this is true. i thought growth NEVER paid!

but it's all about the children....and that tower they're building in front of the cafeteria at LHS.

canyon_wren 11 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence's residential tax is UNBELIEVABLE--and I am sure the business rate is equally unfair, although I am not qualified to make a comparison with that figure.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago

It is expensive to build sewers, streets, and other city services in East Topeka, er West Lawrence, especially when those services are being built for people who have yet to pay property taxes. Therefore, the current property owners (e.g. old Lawrence) foot the bill for all of these city services in new developments.

This is the price of growth and development. If you do not like it, I would suggest you do more to foster the growth of old Lawrence and oppose the rapid, uncontrolled development occuring in East Topeka.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago


Could you tell me exactly what Boog, Rundle, and Schauner have done to increase property taxes? Seriously. I would like to know if they are indeed at fault.

For such a biz-unfriendly group running Lawrence, it sure seems that Biz is having it's way in this town, with rapid development in East Topeka, Walmart, etc.

usaschools 11 years, 8 months ago

You are giving credit to the wrong people. The responsible party is the Republican-controlled KS State legislature. - Who gave the school district the authority to raise the mill levy this year? - Who gave the school district the authority to raise taxes for sped funding just a few years ago? - Who has repeatedly forced local governments to raise property taxes to continue funding for programs the state used to fund that the community needs? - Who has repeatedly failed to adequately fund public schools (until ordered to do so by the court) resulting in local tax increases just to keep the schools open at all? - Who has repeatedly cut state taxes (which somehow remain very high for the middle class) which RESULTS IN LOCAL TAX INCREASES?

Give credit for the tax increases where credit is due. The KANSAS STATE LEGISLATURE passed these taxes in tiny provisions in bills that let them force local increases while APPEARING to cut taxes.

The overzealous tax cuts of the 1990's led to property tax increases. Instead of ALL Kansans paying taxes, now property owners are footing the bill.

I am not saying local officials couldn't do better, I'm saying they are not the root of the problem.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

yourworstnightmare, you don't know what you are talking about at all. the sewers, streets, sidewalks, bicycle paths, bicycle lanes are paid for by the developer, NOT the city. old lawrence ain't paying for squat. that is blatent misinformation.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Washington D.C. public schools - $15,000 spent per student = 48% graduation rate

Parochial school - $5,000 spent per student = 98% graduation rate

Rumor has it that your local big time developer is buying up downtown property at prices well over value. When that happens, other downtown property rises in "value".

Patrick Wilbur 11 years, 8 months ago

usaschools - the root of the problem is actually the federal government. Unfunded mandates such as No Child Left Behind have placed both the KS legislature and local school boards in a ridiculous position. Kansas should follow the lead of Utah and opt out of NCLB (and other unfunded mandates). Until then the legislature and school boards have very little real power.

Patrick Wilbur

Kat Christian 11 years, 8 months ago

Macon you're a genius, however don't seem to think there are so many of them making the decision about property taxes. Senior citizens on fixed incomes should be exempted from any increases and should be given the right to pay a certain percentages of property tax and lock them in on it when they become retired. After all they no longer have children in school so why should they be made to foot the bill?
Perhaps the school board needs to cut somewhere else, perhaps those high salaries. Why should an administrator earn 70% more than a teacher or a secretary? Why can't they learn to live on a barely living-wage? We all have to pull together when in time of need and our children should come first and the adults should sacrifice for them. I don't see that happening. The school board should set an example to parents and teach them this, but this is one lesson forgotten.

usaschools 11 years, 8 months ago

CNA, First of all, let's review a few things about salary.

  1. Prior to last year, in the last TEN years, only 3% additional monies had been added to the salary pool.
  2. 8% is added to the pool/schedule. That does not translate into an 8% increase for teachers. That is a misunderstanding the LJW continues to propogate by simplistic reporting. 8% of new dollars into the wage pool does not mean each teacher's salary increases 8%.
  3. By law, funds for building projects and building maintenance, technology and so forth cannot be spent on salary.

Now, you can call it BS to care about being competitive, but why is it only BS when a school district does it? It certainly isn't considered BS when the business or professional communities try to keep wages competitive. Then it is just good common sense. We DO need to keep up with (or stay close to) surrounding districts. They don't "hover somewhere nearby" like apparitions; they ARE nearby. I personally know great teachers who have left for Eudora, Wellsville, Desoto, Olathe, Basheor, Blue Valley, Center - ALL of which are places one can easily commute to from Lawrence. If you want to keep the best employees and attract the best new graduates, you need a competitive salary/benefits package. This applies to schools as well as other professions.

Vacation is not a benefit. The health benefits are far from excellent and do not compare with typical benefits in the City of Lawrence for KU employees, and comparably educated business employees.

theno1jhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

So the virtual school doesn't cost money to operate? Maybe it's not "sensitive," but if you are two people livining in a three to four bedroom home and complaining about taxes, BUY A SMALLER HOME! You don't even have to move out of this community. It's a lesson I learned at an early age. DON"T LIVE BEYOND YOUR MEANS. In this case, property taxes ought to be part of your affordability.
That is not to say that there are no people who are being genuinely hurt by this increase, and they do have a reason to be concerned. But to say that you didn't go complain at the school board meetings because you were AFRAID OF BEING UNPOPULAR, is no argument! Show up! Voice your opinion! Or else, decisions will be made without record of complaints. Perhaps people ought to be more aware of what the money is being spent on, ie. pretty signs in front of schools. Ultimately, the point of having good schools is to EDUCATE CHILDREN, beyond that, good schools also increase property values, and, hopefully generate business interests in the community. When we have leaders who omit the business end of fundraising, then we get to foot the bill! But this does not make it okay to give the shaft to either the seniors or the children (niether should it be a reason to complain abot teacher's salaries, one should really think about the amounts of money THEY SPEND OUT OF POCKET to inhance the classroom experience).

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago


It was my understanding that the city was responsible for streets and sewers in new developments, not the developers. I may very well be wrong if the rules have changed recently. Can anyone else clarify this issue?

A_Guy 11 years, 8 months ago

"you can blame SCHAUNER BOOG AND RUNDLE,,BIZ UNFREINDLY,wont let new in so who foots the bill you do richard,I told you so,now can you see the damage these three have done,if you dont grow the rich can only survive,now they will try to scramble but its to late are they going to go back to all biz that wanted to come here in the last 5 years and say were sorry will you please come back so we dont have to screw the tax payer,,,never happen,WELCOME TO LAWRENCE KANSAS THE ANSWER IS NO"

I own a business in Lawrence and you couldn't be more wrong. They have overbuilt commercial space in Lawrence so much that my rent (prime spot too) has actually dropped the last couple of years. Low rents with a wealthy population (don't think the people of Lawrence don't have money) means that it's a great place to do business. I know several people getting ready to start businesses here because the opportunity is great.

To reduce property taxes you need to move away from development that uses more services than it pays for. Sadly that includes most sprawled suburban development. Some Johnson County communities are raising taxes this year because their vast growing suburbs are draining resources. It's a tough question, though. Do you heavily regulate suburban residential development (not something that many people want to do) or do you risk the possibility that you may have to increase taxes to pay for the gap in funding left by that development? Not an easy choice.

I'm a business owner and a believer in the free market, but keep in mind that the free market will happily turn a profit at your expense (anyone look at the profits of the oil companies lately?). I work hard to be a good corporate citizen, but I know other business owners who don't take that responsibility. There are very few easy answers in life.

xenophonschild 11 years, 8 months ago

This is all great news. I'm looking to buy a house, and agents - without so much as a blush - point to a box and say: "It's only a hundred thousand."

For a box. I'm already past the stage where I squint and complain: "What!? A hundred-thousand DOLLARS! For that!?"

Now, I manage to keep a straight face and murmur: "Hmm. That seems a bit high for such a small place. Do you have anything else?"

And now this. Maybe I'll start looking in Oskaloosa, or around Perry.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago

"yourworstnightmare, you don't know what you are talking about at all. the sewers, streets, sidewalks, bicycle paths, bicycle lanes are paid for by the developer, NOT the city. old lawrence ain't paying for squat. that is blatent misinformation."

Can anyone clarify? It seems A_guy agrees that new developments drain tax revenues more than they produce.

A_Guy 11 years, 8 months ago

yourworstnightmare, not all new developments drain money. Some do and some don't. My point is that we shouldn't assume more growth would immediately solve our property tax problem. Good growth provides more city revenue. Bad growth drains revenue. I would urge the members of this forum to do some research and educate themselves on what type of development might benefit this city most. An educated city is more likely to make better decision.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"Can anyone clarify? It seems A_guy agrees that new developments drain tax revenues more than they produce."

While new residential developments do pay for much of the infrastructure luny lists, he leaves off such trivial things as schools, fire and police protection, arterial streets that feed these developments, the new sewer treatment plant that will be the largest single expenditure in Lawrence history, etc.

He also neglects to mention that the residential tax rate that these new developments will pay does NOT cover the costs of all the services they will require from the city. That means that it will take a tax increase on ALL residential properties to cover those and other expenses.

Those are the main reasons our roads are in disrepair and the schools are asking for a tax increase.

A_Guy 11 years, 8 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus makes a good point in regards to development and schools. Low-density housing means more kids are spread over a larger area. This leaves two options: we can bus kids further (this is very expensive) or we can build new schools closer to the kids (this is also very expensive). I'm not sure the city could or should stop suburban development. But, we should expect the higher taxes. It's one of those facts of life.

Godot 11 years, 8 months ago

Well, if we are heading down the path of freezing property valuations or reducing property taxes for people over age 65, we should NOT be building retirment communities in Douglas County.

If the retired get a break on property taxes, and children, of course, don't pay taxes, then we have only about 30% of the population supporting the 70% of the population who use the most resources. That won't work very well.

FastEddie 11 years, 8 months ago

CNA said:

"show me the paucity of applications for teaching positions in this district!"

Two years ago at this time, Lawrence High had to hire a long term sub to teach Chemistry because they couldn't find an applicant. Parents were angry because the sub didn't know much about the subject. This never used to happen in Lawrence but it is happening everywhere in the state and country. The bad news is that the problem will only get worse within the next 10 years as the teaching population (which is already old) retires. Young people are not going into the profession like they used to.

In other words, expect to pay higher taxes in the future. Salaries will have to continue to rise to meet the increased demand for teachers as the supply decreases (sounds like typical economics to me).

theno1jhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Isn't it interesting that the past salaries of teachers was kept low by the very people who do not want to fund schools now (KS legislature, citizens)? FastEddie makes a good point about simple economics. You weren't willing to pay teachers what they deserve (considering all the bs they have to put up with from your kids), so no one wanted to become a teacher. Now there is an underpopulation of great teachers, and the price goes up (look at nursing). Maybe when we start paying members of society what they are really worth, we will increase the pool of overall applicants, as well as qualified/skilled applicants. I believe it was Aristotle who said that you can always tell what a society values by who makes the most money.

sourpuss 11 years, 8 months ago

The answer is simple. One, raise taxes on the upper classes through income taxes. As most seniors are on lower pensions and social security, raising taxes on the rich won't affect them. Let the people who are working and having children pay more for these things. If you lower income and corporate taxes, you have to make them up from somewhere if you want to keep the services, so they go after property.

Two, move to a less expensive house. Property taxes are why a lot of retired people move out of their large family houses: the taxes and upkeep are too expensive for a limited income. You can also reinvest the surplus equity and have more monthly income.

There, problem solved. Onward.

3e8 11 years, 8 months ago

why not rewrite the state constitution and just abolish public schools? everybody will pay for the school they use through the private market just as everybody does for food and shelter and other essential services already. in less than ten years schools with wide ranges quality and features will emerge from nowhere as the supply of money-makers in the world is unlimmited. school boards are replaced by corporate boards, taxes are replaced by choices, and the potential to make changes that affect others through pull or mobs and enforced by guns or jails is reduced to the potential to raise capital and convince others that the New! Improved! school is best.

neither system is perfect and the 'better' one is determined soley by the ruler used to measure, but which do you prefer?

theno1jhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Talk about increasing the already giant income gap

Jamesaust 11 years, 8 months ago

lunacy and bozo are both correct, but, here, bozo has the edge.

While developers provide some of the direct infrastructure to development (the street in front of the house, the sidewalk, a stick-tree in the front yard), the larger, secondary - and more expensive - infrastructure is provided by the general taxpayer.

While there is no direct link, development leads to higher costs for police, fire, sewer, schools, major roads. If you put an extra 10,000 houses in west Lawrence, and an extra 5,000 people commute to work in KC down 6th and 23rd streets, then there is an extra 10,000 trips taken on these roads and with that additional wear paid for by everyone.

Some of this is captured through city-wide property taxes, some through different sale tax increases.

Jamesaust 11 years, 8 months ago

sourpuss is at least half right --

there is a concept call 'downshifting'. If you can't afford the taxes on the size of house you have, sell it, and 'downshift' to a smaller, less expensive one. (Hint: the IRS lets you keep the difference tax free!)

That said, shifting the burden to the young "people who are working and having children" via higher income taxes is hardly practical. First, that income is necessary to buy property in the first place and to save for retirement to pay the very taxes being complained about here. Second, state and local governments have to balance their budgets every year but income tax revenues (with incomes) vary greatly between periods of growth and recession. (California, which relies greatly on income taxes after its property tax rebellion in the 1970s, found this out in the post-2000 economic bust - exactly when the state needed the revenue was exactly when the incomes dried up.)

Jamesaust 11 years, 8 months ago

In general, this article's theme - ""I think the children are being pretty well taken care of, but I think the senior citizens are being thrown to the wolves" - is flat-wrong.

Luckily, the article even provides the link to disprove this. Ignore the pretty map and follow the link to 'State Handbook of Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Indicators 2006.' Click on Kansas (or any state) and follow down four pages to the poverty summary.

Approximately, 1 in 8 children live in poverty in Kansas, about 12%. (For some reason, boys have a slightly lower rate of poverty than girls - perhaps they are more likely to drop out of school for work and so improve their 'snapshot' poverty rate?)

Poverty for those 65-75, by contrast, is much lower - about 6% men and 8% women (probably due to social security difference resulting from lifetime earnings). Only for females over 75 is poverty significant (almost certainly due to very, very long-lived women who outstrip their savings at the end of life). Indeed, those over 65 have the LOWEST rate of poverty by INCOME of ANY demographic group. In other words, senior citizens as a group (even if not individually) are the wealthiest segment of our community even when restricting the measurement to income and ignoring property ownership.

So, what property tax relief plan is being proposed that will benefit only the elderly in poverty - a valid but very small group - while maintaining the well-off remainders' fair share? Perhaps a small rebate via the income tax system for those who show a disparity in income versus tax of 1:4, phased out by say $2,000 per year in property tax? That would leave the unnamed woman in the article with assistence but leave Mr. Henderson the option of 'downshifting'.

sourpuss 11 years, 8 months ago

If you want government services, then you need to provide the government with money. This is mostly obtained through taxes. We don't sell stuff to other countries, so we have to get money internally. This is done through taxes and fees. Yes, there are ALWAYS downsides to taxing any given group... corporations, small businessmen, poor, rich, old, young, but hey, you need to get the money from somewhere and no one is priviledged. Therefore, the government should endeavor to spread the burden as evenly as possible so that no one group is hit any more adversely than any other. As it is right now, the rich pay very little in taxes and so are not bearing their part of the burden of taxation. And unless all of you who post on here build yachts and are interior designers, I cannot understand why you would not want someone with millions or billions of dollars to pay a little more... but perhaps you are more generous than I am.

In general, Americans need to learn to live within their means and perhaps if they had be willing to buy a smaller house and car and spend a dollar more on pickles and shirts, then we would not be under the thumb of big box stores and Chinese production.

Jamesaust 11 years, 8 months ago

"We don't sell stuff to other countries...."

The U.S. exported in 2005 $927.5 billion of goods and services. Only Germany exported more.

"...the rich pay very little in taxes and so are not bearing their part of the burden of taxation."

The balancing point on income taxes at least is 3:97. That is, out of 100 taxpayers, the top 3 pay as much as the bottom 97. Would you prefer 2:98? or 1:99? Likewise, a million dollar home is assessed 10 times the property tax as a $100,000 home.

Redneckgal 11 years, 8 months ago

Man do I have mixed feelings on this one! When I first started reading this I thought it was going to be about some little ol' man struggling along in a $65000 dollar home. $190000 home? I admit I don't live in Lawrence but good heavens that seems to be lot of house for 2 people even by Lawrence standards. On the other hand I agree that Kansas property tax is just totally outragous for everyone. I've often wondered what it good it does for my kids to go to fancy new school when we are getting taxed right out of our house.

MWIV 11 years, 8 months ago

Downsize? Is that what the younger generation thinks the seniors should do? Where does it say that a senior should leave their home of "x" years, just so some govenment entity can just spend more and more of their money? Whose money is it anyway? I don't believe that most seniors expect a free ride since they have raised their kids and it is now someone else's turn. I just think a senior has been around long enough to see that there appears to be no end in sight as to just how much some people want of your money! Most people don't mind paying taxes. What I believe most people don't like is seeing their tax money wasted. Change that? It will never happen.

MWIV 11 years, 8 months ago

swbsow - Good grief, what do you consider a rich person? Probably anyone who has more money that you do. Do some homework on how much the wealthy pay in income taxes. Most of the income tax paid in this country is paid by the wealthy. I thank them for that and wish I was in that position! If 50% of your income was being taken away for redistribution for "whatever and waste", I would think you and anyone else in that catagory would be looking for ways to shield it too. They work hard and what do they get? Someone either trying to take it away or someone complaining because they didn't do as well. Only in America! Ugh!

oldgranny 11 years, 8 months ago

You will pardon me if I can't genarate much sympathy for Mr. Henderson. If Mr. Henderson can afford a $190000.00 home then Mr. Henderson's fixed income must be "fixed" pretty high. I have never minded paying my fair share for the kids. I feel like it is my duty. However my beef is how much return we get for the investment we make. It dosen't seem to me that my grandkids are getting as good of an education as my own kids did 30 years ago. Or that I did years and years ago. And yet we are paying much much more for it. And the enrollment fees for this year where just horrid.

oldgranny 11 years, 8 months ago

PS MWIV..Your last post! You have GOT to be kidding!

MWIV 11 years, 8 months ago

oldgranny - Right on! Go girl! I agree. It is what I call waste. Not getting what you pay for. Unfortuantely it is not all the fault of the school system. The primary education of a child begins at home.

MWIV 11 years, 8 months ago

oldgranny, no I am not kidding. How would you like 50% of your income taken away? The wealthy generally take risks that the rest of us would not take. They should be rewarded accordingly. Not discouraged from being sucessful. We have a pretty good life in this country due to people taking a risk and succeeding. Why should they be punished?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"If 50% of your income was being taken away for redistribution for "whatever and waste","

The current top rate is somewhere around 35%, and with the various tax shelters available, for those in this tax bracket, they pay much less than that. What's more, they don't have to pay payroll taxes (social security, medicaid, etc.) on most of their income.

theno1jhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Why are they wealthy?
"because they take risks" Or are they making money on the backs of others it''s all matter of the person and the perspective

hottruckinmama 11 years, 8 months ago

MWIV isn't it about time for your "its all because we pay for cell phones" speech?

BunE 11 years, 8 months ago

Ladies and Gentlemen, your taxes at the local level are on the rise thanks to a certain group's stranglehold on the federal government. The HUGE tax breaks and HUGE increases in spending have led us down the primrose path. The tax burdon has been shifted to the local and state level. Huge tax breaks for the rich and for corporate interests force the locals to tax the middle class at a rate that threatens to destroy the very people who have shouldered the burden of public finance since WWII. Huge expansion of spending such as the Medicare drug plan have pushed the burden of payment for these follies onto our grand children. SO ,with these cuts, money for schools and police and W.I.C. and reading come from the local level, states' income taxes will rise, and local property taxes will too.

BTW you can also blame the reckless monetary policy of Alan Greenspan for the insanity of property taxes. Free money for bankers and low interest loans created the spike in housing values and the habit we consumers got into of using our equity to finance all sorts of extravagances. This allowed our economy unprecedented growth but it is based on credit, not wealth. Those bill are gonna come due someday.

Lets get something straight here, the rich in America are not discouraged from being successful, in fact if you are rich in the US, you have to be a complete idiot to become poor. No one punishes the rich for wealth. However, the policies and the practices of the government and the corporate leadership of the US have made the American dream of upward mobility a lie. In fact, according to the economist, northern European citizens are much more likely to rise in economic and social status that similarly equipped AMericans.

MWIV 11 years, 8 months ago

swbsow - I live very much within my means. I neither desire or need to downsize my home. Further, I own my own business and have more cell phones that you can imagine. If people want to downsize that is their choice. I have no problem with that. I just don't think that one should "have" to do it, just because someone is wasting our tax dollars. When one takes all the tax dollars that we pay in total, ie: income, real estate, sales, etc. it can and does in many cases, add up to as much as 50% of one's income. As you know, real estate is only part of the tax burden.

You can call it a cell phone rant if you want to, but just don't ask me and other tax payers of this country to pay for someones else's lack of responsiblity while they go on with the joys of life, ie: having luxuries (that includes cell phones). That is called redistribution of wealth. There are others places on this planet that thrives on that. The USA should not be one of them. For people that can't afford healthcare, etc. we have a system in place and it is called Medicaid. Obviously a social program that I support. We need to take care of those that can't do it themselves, but I have a major problem paying for those folks and then seeing them use their cell phones and other items that are obvioulsy outside their level of income. If you don't believe that happens, you have your head in the sand. Is the answer just to expand that?

Also: "Lots of older folks downsize simply because it costs too much to maintain their home or they are physically unable to do so. There is no shame in doing it."

This statement may be true, but you should NOT HAVE to do it. That is the point. Why should you "have" to give up your home? If you want something smaller because of your choices, ie: too big to clean, etc. that's okay too, but again, you should not be forced to do it because of higher property taxes that are wasted away on who knows what.

theno1jhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

How interesting that you support a program that primarily provides healthcare to seniors (medicaid)

But, if you look in past issues of ljw, you will see that a program intended to provide healthcare fo 15,000 children receives little support

oldgranny 11 years, 8 months ago

MWIV..I wouldn't worry my head to much over Mr. Henderson having to give up his home. Something tells me that Mr. Henderson will continue to live in his home and still eat besides. If Mr. Henderson were a poor man living in a $50,000 dollar home something tells me that you would be the first one on the bandwagon complaining about his utter lack of resposibility and the money he spends on bingo.

BunE 11 years, 8 months ago

Healthcare for children? Bah! They are poor and if they were real americans they would just stop being poor. Jeez! Listen, the only healthcare that 'merica should provide children is to protect them in the womb, after that, they are on their own.

MWIV 11 years, 8 months ago

swbsow - I don't think you read my post that close. I never said that I thought cell phones are expensive, although I believe when the final bill comes, they are. I must have hit a nerve with you. If you are on Medicaid and I don't have any idea if you are, you should really consider your means and I don't believe that includes a cell phone. If you are not on Medicaid, I, nor anyone else, has a right to judge your choice to have one. Having said that however, if you want me to pay for your healhcare, then I believe I should have a right to have input as to how you live. Not what you want to hear.

"It boils down to this, if you can't afford it (for whatever reason), then you have to give it up or do without it." - I could not agree more, except I just don't think you should have to give up your home, and yes your cell phone, just because someone else is wasting your hard earned tax dollars.

tell_it_like_it_is 11 years, 8 months ago

I could be mistaken but I think MWIV is one of those who have made there wealth off the backs of other's labor. In which case to argue with him/her is futile. They will never get it. And even if they did they wouldn't care.

formerfarmer 11 years, 7 months ago

I thought someone would do the math. There are 52 weeks in a year, 52 x 50=$2600. 12 x 200=$2400. Once again the headline is misleading.

theno1jhawk 11 years, 7 months ago

yes, i am aware that medicaid pays for seniors, but you cannot say that it is only for seniors, even looking at the site you have put up, there are other groups which it covers. MY point is that it is really intended to and primarily does cover seniors

further, the general point remains: SENIORS have insurance, where as many low income children do not, so, it seems that once again children get the shaft yet other members of society benefit. yet, it is just these members who complain about the provision of services to themselves (as a previous comment noted)

MEANWHILE, MWIV, if you get SSI should society get input on the way you live? And if you are receiving medicare, should we get input? what if that input is that you should not be living beyond your means (ie. two people in a 3 or 4 bedroom home)

it's always fun to regulate other people's behavior, as long as they don't regulate ours

and, it always great to receive social services ourselves, but not contribute to services for others

whistlestop75 11 years, 7 months ago

School districts around the state are increasing their LOB..Local Option Budget...until the lawsuit was settled, the LOB was frozen...that is why they don't have to vote on the is already in place...each district has an option to raise it not more than 5%...

Your local School Board, City Council or County Commission does not raise these taxes lightly...they pay taxes also...they are required to spend money on things that are mandated by state statue...and yes, by the Legislature...but all of these mandates happened over a period of at least 20 years...while at the same time, the legislature took things off the tax rolls and reduced luxury taxes on things like RVs.

Special assessments are usually assigned to new housing developments for a period of years...usually 10, to pay for streets and sewer costs...

theno1jhawk 11 years, 7 months ago

i'm just glad to see that as the day has gone on, the diversity in opinion has increased

early on, it was mind boggling

whistlestop75 11 years, 7 months ago

Is anyone aware of the fact that the Legislature in the late '90s looked over what the schools were teaching and decided that the schools in all districts needed to be more unified in what they taught? The Legislature passed legislation that made the school districts unify in what they were teaching...added what they (the Legislature) thought was needed in the curriculum and then did not fund the changes...that is what caused this lawsuit that we, the taxpayers, funded..."Ain't life grand!"

armyguy 11 years, 7 months ago

Somebody mentioned in one post that there is nothing in town worth a crap for less than 100k, when I look around my neighborhood I see nothing much for sale that isn't in the 150 - 200k range. These are not extravagant large, homes. For the most part they are post war homes built in the 1950's. To all you saying that downsizing is a option, where would you send our seniors? The student ghetto? Or better yet Topeka? Better wait on Topeka, tax rates there are much higher. Douglass county tax rates are fairly low in my estimation compared with family and friends in surrounding counties and towns. My dads home in Bonner Springs, both in size and worth, about 2/3 of mine pays almost $1,000.00 more per year in taxes.

If you want the services and convenience of living in a town like Lawrence everyone has to pay for it, or you can move to Missouri , bad roads, bad schools, bad services, but hey the taxes are cheap

oldgoof 11 years, 7 months ago

MWIV: ". . .Further, I own my own business and have more cell phones that you can imagine. If people want to downsize that is their choice. I have no problem with that. I just don't think that one should "have" to do it, just because someone is wasting our tax dollars. When one takes all the tax dollars that we pay in total, ie: income, real estate,. . ."

What a joke.

KsTwister 11 years, 7 months ago

FYI From the Kansas Taxpayers Network

"July 28, 2006 USA Today reported on federal Census Department data showing that in 2004 Kansas property taxes were the highest in our five state region and 14th highest per capita among all 50 states. High property taxes hurt the economy. The risk and uncertainty of trying to operate and grow a business in a state where there is no limit on local taxes makes this state uncompetitive with our neighbors.

More advanced states like Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma require voter approval before property taxes (and even tax funded bonding) can be raised. Other advanced states like Ohio roll back mill levies to offset soaring tax appraisals. Sadly, all it takes to raise county property taxes in Kansas is a simple majority of the county commission. In addition, soaring appraisals have allowed elected officials to hide behind the appointed appraiser who has actually been raising tax appraisals "

whistlestop75 11 years, 7 months ago

And that appraiser has mandates from the state that he/she has to go by on property valuation...

whistlestop75 11 years, 7 months ago

If you would explore the website the offenders are listed and check surrounding counties you will see women who exploited young men...these little girls grow up and a lot of the time still run after the young boys...

MWIV 11 years, 7 months ago

swbsow "Also, does that apply to employers who contribute/provide healthcare plans? After all they are helping out with their employees' healthcare....." The answer to that is yes. Again, not what you want to hear. If your employer is paying you a salary, your employer has a right to tell you what to do to earn your salary. Can we agree that that is correct? If you accept that, then you should be able to accept the fact that your healthcare insurance, paid by your employer, is part of your compensation package and if so, you, along with your employer have a responsibility to control those costs. Lifestyle choices can and do effect insurance rates. If one does not want their employer to control their lifestyle choices, that is okay too, then pay for your own insurance. Take responsibility yourself. In other words, where does it say that your employer is responsible to pay for your insurance? That is a benefit. Employers have paid for so much of it that companies now like General Motors are in trouble because they are more of an insurance provider and retirement fund manager than what they are automobile manufactuers. They also have not listened to the consumer as to what to build for cars. Having said that, GM got themselves into that spot. There are two signatures on the labor contract.

Further, if you think that Medicaid is really only for seniors, you are sadly mistaken. There are more non-seniors in this state on Medicaid than seniors. Check the facts with KDOA and SRS. Ask your legislators where the money is being spent. Medicaid was designed for the poor, regardless of age.

"So if you are retired or are retiring soon (and I am assuming you are older than me),...."

You are partly correct. I will admit that I am no doubt older than you. Since I have paid into the SSI fund for about 40+ years and have yet to draw from same, I would say that I have paid in more than what I have taken out. Yes, it will get worse when the boomers retire. I believe it will get even worse when the genX's retire because I am not convinced that they are planning for that time of their life. They seem to be more concerned with the "me" generation concept. If that is the case, then someone behind me/us will have to pay dearly for this. It will be my children and grandchildren. I feel sorry for them. You need to remember that SSI is a supplemental income. The primary retirement income is the responsibility of the individual. Where does it say that the Government is reponsible for your retirement happiness? Happiness is not an entitlement! We are all created equal in the pursuit of happiness, not guaranteed happiness.

I think this "old" person needs to sign off tonight. See you another time and we can spar some more. I like it when it prevokes the thought process. Later.


kujeeper 11 years, 7 months ago

I am planning my retirement so I never have to worry about this stuff, maybe these people should have made some decisions so that they don't have to live on social security... set yourself up to live on your own dime, not someone elses.... moochers.

lunacydetector 11 years, 7 months ago

what everyone seems to forget is that if you lump in more schools and fire and police into the equation when some of you write that growth never pays - you need to include the increase in sales taxes that new residents pay. that is a key factor in paying for those services, that NOBODY wants to write.

a complete and total misinformation conspiracy is going on here. if people would look at the whole picture, they would see why other communities can grow and are larger than lawrence. if it doesn't pay to grow your city, then why is every other community surrounding lawrence growing while lawrence shrinks....and lawrence IS shrinking.

overland park is more educated than lawrence and it grows and it isn't going bankrupt. their housing is less expensive as well. what are they doing different? they have more retail and commercial taxes coming in than lawrence, because they allow more retail and commercial development.

Vonda Mailen 11 years, 7 months ago

An awakening for many of you will be to discover that the best retirement plans for middle income families can fail miserably due to future taxations that are "out of control. " We retired early (health reasons) with 2 State Pensions, private retirement plans, and Soc. Sec. However, the income gets added together (end of year) and IRS taxes 85% of your Social Security - so that doesn't help you. Then you end up paying the IRS thousands plus paying tax estimates for next year. When your city drops more large tax burdens on you then all your good planning ends up in disappointment. It isn't that you didn't try and plan! I agree with those who have said that our value of our homes are being inflated in Lawrence beyond reason. We can't even sell them for the "value" they are taxing us on. I am amazed how long houses are sitting with "For Sale" signs. Could these be signs that those in power are not making good decisions?

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