Archive for Saturday, July 8, 2006

A taxing decision

2007 recommended budget calls for property tax, franchise fee increases

July 8, 2006

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Better streets will require higher property taxes and higher fees, according to a budget being recommended by interim City Manager David Corliss.

Corliss on Friday presented a 2007 recommended budget that calls for a property tax increase of 0.98 mill, increases the franchise fees that every electric, telephone and cable customer in the city pays, and would delay some new park projects.

But the budget also increases by about $2 million what the city would be able to spend on street maintenance.

"This is an eat your vegetables before your dessert type of budget," Corliss said. "The major theme of the budget is to focus on basic infrastructure needs of the community."

The budget proposes spending $58.8 million for general operations, up from $55.2 million this year. Revenues are expected to grow from $47 million to $55 million. The city would make up any deficit by dipping into its fund balances, which are the city's equivalent of a savings account.

The extra attention to infrastructure will require a tax increase, Corliss said. The nearly one mill increase likely would cost the owner of a typical Lawrence home about $50 to $60 more per year in city property taxes. That's because in addition to the mill levy increase, most Lawrence homes are expected to rise in value by 5 percent to 7 percent, which also will increase the amount of taxes residents will owe. A mill is one dollar in property tax for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Several city commissioners on Friday afternoon said they appreciated the attention the budget would provide to streets and infrastructure, but said they would have to review the proposal more before they could commit to a tax increase.

"We have to have our infrastructure in place to make sure the rest of the community works," Mayor Mike Amyx said. "Nobody ever wants to see us have any type of mill levy increase. I've never been in support of that, but the thing that happens when we're looking at the big picture on infrastructure is that some of those improvements cost pretty big dollars."

The proposed property tax increase may gain some traction with city commissioners. Several of them have pointed out that the City Commission reduced the mill levy by 1.5 mills last year.

In addition to the property tax increase, Corliss is recommending an increase in the city's utility franchise fees that would increase a person's electric, phone and cable bills by a total of 5.75 percent.

City commissioners will discuss the budget and make any changes to it throughout July. They are expected to give it final approval in early August.

Street maintenance

The budget would increase street maintenance funding from the $4 million per year currently to about $6 million in 2007. The extra money would allow the city to add an additional three-person maintenance crew, fund more pothole and crack repair, and boost the city's efforts to rebuild crumbling curbs and gutters.

The city received a report from its Public Works Department earlier this year showing that about 30 percent of the city's streets had deteriorated to the point that simple maintenance would no longer keep them in acceptable condition. That led to a call by Public Works leaders to significantly increase the amount of money available for street maintenance to stop more city streets from falling into the category of needing major repairs.

The additional $2 million in proposed spending would not allow the city to begin addressing the 30 percent of streets in need of major repair. Corliss said the city would be in a position to begin tackling those projects in 2009, if city commissioners first take care of the backlog of maintenance projects in 2007 and 2008.

Reaction from city motorists and taxpayers was mixed Friday. Several said they weren't sure higher taxes would be worth the extra road work.

John Rury, a Lawrence resident who moved here from Chicago, said the city's streets aren't worse than other communities. What is out of line, he said, is the price of housing. Additional property taxes would only compound that problem, he said.

"Lawrence already has priced out the working middle class," Rury said.

Others, though, said improving street conditions in the city should be a priority. Lawrence resident Shawn Hastie said she's frequently frustrated by the condition of streets in her East Lawrence neighborhood and would be willing to pay an extra $50 a year in taxes for better streets.

"The streets are not so hot," Hastie said. "They crumble, the potholes they fill fall apart."

Park delays

The additional street maintenance funding could come at a cost to parks. Corliss is recommending about $900,000 of the new street money come from proceeds of the countywide 1-cent sales tax.

Historically, a large portion of that sales tax money has been used to fund new park projects. By shifting some of the money to streets, Corliss said some previously approved park projects could not be funded under his budget proposal. The two major projects that would be left off the funding list are a new park on city-owned land near Peterson Road and North Iowa Street, and a neighborhood park in the Green Meadows area near Kasold Drive and 31st Street.

Park projects that would receive funding under his budget are Clinton Park, near Fifth and Alabama streets; road improvements at Sesquicentennial Point; creation of a new park at Harvard Road and George Williams Way; planning for the Burroughs Creek trail project; and improvements to the skateboard park at Centennial Park.

City Commissioner Boog Highberger has been a strong proponent of several of the park projects. He said he agrees there is need for more street maintenance and likely could live with a mill levy increase. But he said he's not sure he likes the idea of delaying several of the park projects.

"I'll need to look at that one a little more," Highberger said. "I can't guarantee that I would support that recommendation yet."

Social services

Corliss is recommending the city provide $250,000 in funding for the community's WRAP program, an initiative run by the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center that puts mental health professionals in area schools. The program is losing its federal grant funding and needs local money to stay in business.

The funding may generate debate among commissioners. Commissioner David Schauner said he wasn't convinced providing the funding was the right role for the city because it took resources from basic city services.

"I haven't made up my mind yet," Schauner said. "But I think we do need to be very careful in expanding our funding of outside agencies. I would like to keep our mill levy flat, but we'll just have to see."

Economic development

The proposed budget makes several recommendations that would add new elements to the city's economic development efforts.

"To put it bluntly, the Lawrence community must do more to achieve our economic development aspirations," Corliss said, expressing particular concern about the city's tax base being too heavily weighted toward residential properties.

Corliss proposes creating a $250,000 fund to help pay for city infrastructure improvements needed to attract a new company to town or encourage an existing company to expand. City commissioners would have to create a policy how to specifically use the fund, but it could provide another incentive in addition to tax abatements to lure new companies to town.

Corliss also is recommending the city hire an economic development coordinator. The new position would concentrate on providing economic analysis to city commissioners on issues such as retail demand, downtown redevelopment, neighborhood revitalization and other economic development related issues. Corliss said he didn't intend for the position to detract from the city's economic development marketing efforts currently outsourced to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Traffic calming and sidewalks

Sidewalks and traffic-calming devices - such as speed humps and traffic circles - also would receive special funding under Corliss' budget. He's recommending the city create a new $250,000 fund to be used to fill in sidewalk gaps along major streets. It also would begin funding several traffic-calming projects requested by neighborhoods and approved by city commissioners, but not yet built for lack of funding.

Property tax calculator

Property tax calculator

Note: values shown are provided for informational purposes only and are based on an average home value increase of 6.5% and the proposed mill levy of $27.34 per $1000 and may not reflect your new property tax amount. Javascript is required to use this calculator.

Fees

The major fee increases in the proposed budget are utility franchise fees. Franchise fees are charged to utility customers based on a percentage of each user's bill, minus taxes and other fees. Corliss' proposal would result in:

¢ A 3 percent increase in phone bills, with the franchise fee increasing from 2 percent to 5 percent.

¢ A 1.75 percent increase in cable bills, not including Internet service, with the fee rising from 3.25 percent to 5 percent.

¢ A 1 percent increase in electric bills, with the fee increasing from 4 percent to 5 percent.

Corliss said it may be appropriate to phase in the increases for phone and cable fees. But he said the increases were justified because the city is spending more to buy and maintain rights-of-way used by the utility companies.

The utility companies have previously said they don't plan to contest the fee increases, as long as people understand the increases would be passed directly to customers.

Corliss' budget does not recommend any new impact fees, but he said development and neighborhood leaders should convene this fall to discuss specific impact fees to help pay for new parks and streets.

- Staff reporter Sarah Benson contributed to this report.

Comments

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

So I guess the $75,000,000 (seventy-five million dollar) new destination library in downtown Lawrence is pretty much a done deal then. One only wonders how our streets will handle all the increased traffic.

KsTwister 8 years, 8 months ago

Same old story, different day. Know what, I believe the city has the money SOMEWHERE already; it is stupid greed that will kill this town. Lawrence is overtaxed now------so what did you do with all that has been bilked out of these citizens? No More, petition please.

righthand 8 years, 8 months ago

Yikes, folks... 250,000 seems to be the magic figure here from our interim guy. So, they want to raise all the fees, etc. and then eventually figure out what they NEED (or want). Nondefinitive talk is a scary thing. Funny how the article started out with streets and as Pandora's box gradually opens, we see the real beauty unleashed. Wow! Why does the city have a savings account anyway. What are they SAVING tax payer money for? Another scary... Why not borrow the money, a lease-purchase thing? "raising the fees is justified because the utilities are raising their fees" - I thought we were raising the fees for infrastructural needs... more scary

Truth: once the mill is raised... it's NEVER going back down. Scary again...

Pay for Bert Nash? They should beg a group of wealthy donors (the potential list is far too enormous to mention) to fund them. The city should NEVER pay for that! Scariness abounds...

Does the quality of most of the houses in this town justify such value in property? I have a nice humble home, but it's real market value... Furthermore, some properties here - you've got to be kidding me. Scary times two

So much waste and so little to show for it. Folks, put your sensibilities forward here. This is not a political issue. This is crazy and irresposible. We are idiots if we allow one cent to be raised at leat until they have a truly solid plan with a few less question marks and "we'll have to see" issues.

They try the same old line every time. The property is soooo valuable... we have to raise the taxes. Hardiharr-har-har... What are they going to ask us for when it's not infrastructure and it's the flowery stuff (libraries, etc)? Scary to the umpteenth power!

WRONG.

All of this for road repairs AND the city has a savings account! Hee-hee-heeee. That is cute, indeed. They are saving our money for us. So nice. So I suppose they'll be saving even more because they aren't even close to nailing any issue down and in the meantime, our money will be earning interest to be squandered later. A savings account for the city... that's a good one, really. And, what do roads in a crowded city constantly need, regardless of their age? REPAIRS. So, when does it end? Never, that's when. This is a trick, not a treat, folks.

Outlying communities, keep those arms open, perhaps a bit wider...

lunacydetector 8 years, 8 months ago

tax and spend liberals. what do you expect?

how about....forget about traffic calming b.s. make the property owner take care of their sidewalks like they are supposed to, unless you live in east lawrence or old west lawrence do you suppose?

how about an impartial person to police the companies who pour the concrete or lay the asphalt on our roadways? those companies suck since they have to re-do their work (at our expense) every 2-3 years. i thought we were in a "global warming" crisis because the winters sure have been milder - why do our roads suck so bad when we have mild winters?

how about NOT creating more government jobs? that should save some money....how about cutting some of the city jobs that were created over the past 10 years that doubled or tripled the size of our local government while the population NOW is decreasing and it certainly didn't double or triple in size over the past 10 years, that is for sure.

....but of course, he couldn't recommend that! he will start with raising OUR taxes first. government jobs are the LAST to be cut when there is a budget problem.

according to an article 3 days ago, i thought lawrence generated tons more in sales taxes. of course, that was not factoring in the Consumer Price Index increases and increases in goods and FUEL, but the numbers are suspect anyway but it makes good P.R.

erichaar 8 years, 8 months ago

Time (long past due) to get rid of the "Progressive" Lawrence Campaign group.

When voting next year, DO NOT vote for anyone named Highberger, Schauner or Rundle.

lunacydetector 8 years, 8 months ago

...i call my plan, eat hamburger if you can't afford steak.

KsTwister 8 years, 8 months ago

If Westar has to refund excess charges passed to consumers then should not the city be returning excess charges on those fees irresponsibly taxed to citizens. Kind of ironic,same day articles. Lawrence needs to be run by business people who can properly budget and audit departmental spending. Recall the entire Commission they are not qualified.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"Lawrence needs to be run by business people"

We tried that for decades, and that's why we now need to increase spending on road maintenance by $2 million a year.

lunacydetector 8 years, 8 months ago

to marion, a postcard idea "you must sue, if it's not true"

KsTwister 8 years, 8 months ago

"Lawrence needs to be run by business people"

Bankers, State auditors,CPA's not business owners with an eye on their own establishments. Business professors, Engineers and people who can detect good use of funds. For what this city has spent in legal fees the streets in Lawrence would look pretty good right now----even if they did remove $200K from it in 2002. It makes no sense that they keep building homes and taking in revenue and still fall short. Why??

Steve Jacob 8 years, 8 months ago

Are you sure about the... "most Lawrence homes are expected to rise in value by 5 percent to 7 percent"

It's not like there is a big demand for homes in Lawrence this year.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"Business professors, Engineers"

Highberger is a lawyer and an engineer (electrical, I believe.)

"It makes no sense that they keep building homes and taking in revenue and still fall short. Why??"

Because new homes need new infrastructure, and the new taxes they bring in don't cover the new expenses.

Jamesaust 8 years, 8 months ago

"But [Corliss] said the increases were justified because the city is spending more to buy and maintain rights-of-way used by the utility companies."

How's that? As there are more telephones in Lawrence over time, more electricity and more water used, how does a constant rate of taxation multiplied by a larger consumption factor not supply greater revenues?

Could it be that growth does not pay for itself? Or rather, the city does not recover in fees from new development the sum necessary to cover governmental expenses caused by the development?

(And note: when the city decides a traffic circle needs built in newer areas based on expected FUTURE growth, its the City not the land developers who are paying for this do-dad.)

Finally, note to the editor --- ITS TELEPHONE, not "phone." Are there no standards in journalistic editing anymore?????

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

"Because new homes need new infrastructure, and the new taxes they bring in don't cover the new expenses."

It is more likely that the City of Lawrence wastes money on studies, on committees, on trips, on roundabouts, on the T, on Eagle Bend, on too much administration.

By the way, why is it okay that the T does not pay for itself, the T being something that very people use, and is not a neccessary utility, but it is not okay that necessary utilities do not pay for themselves? Just more evidence of backward, punitive, PLC thinking

Jay_Z 8 years, 8 months ago

Good point Godot.

For the likes of Bozo, having the Emp-T bus system is just the right thing to do. Public transportation in a bedroom community of 80,000 just makes sense...no matter how much money it loses every year!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"wastes money on studies, on committees,"

Are all studies and committees wasteful? What would you suggest as a better way for the city commission and staff to gather and process information in order to make informed decisions?

"on trips"

Same question, basically. Is it ever useful for the city commission or staff to travel to attend conferences or investigate alternate ways of doing things?

"on roundabouts,"

With the exception of some of the traffic circles south of campus, which cost essentially nothing to construct, every roundabout in this city functions much better than an all-way stop in efficiently handling traffic, and the overall costs haven't been haven't been high enough to affect anyone's tax bill very noticeably. Unless you just like poor traffic flow, complaining about roundabouts is nothing but gratuitous bitching.

"on Eagle Bend"

I'm not a golfer, so I could easily do without this golf course-- but I know quite a few people who do use it and appreciate it. Hindsight tells us the predictions of the revenue it would generate were low. But also remember that this wasn't the decision of most (any?) of the sitting commissioners. Unfortunately, because of the existing bonds that need to be paid off, it's cheaper to keep it open than to close it.

"too much administration"

Perhaps so. Do you have any specific suggestions as to which administrative personnel the city should fire?

"why is it okay that the T does not pay for itself, the T being something that very people use, and is not a neccessary utility,"

Not necessary to whom? There are a lot of people who wouldn't get to their jobs without the T. There are a lot of elderly and disabled people who wouldn't get to the doctor or the grocery store without it.

"but it is not okay that necessary utilities do not pay for themselves?"

Maybe it is OK. The city knows what the T, the police and fire dept., etc, cost to operate out of general revenues. If the city decides that utilities for new residential construction should be subsidized by general revenues, let the voters know exactly what that's going to cost, and the average homeowner in Pinkney, E. or Old West Lawrence and other older neigborhoods can decide if that's a worthwhile investment for them, and vote for city commission candidates accordingly. But let's stop the myth that it isn't being heavily subsidized, mainly to prop up the profits of development interests.

KsTwister 8 years, 8 months ago

Ok Bozo, so why isn't the older infrastructure taken care of first. Give me a break, Lawrence is caving in from the inside out. If New York City can go bankrupt what makes you think your commission can take care of business. And your Dada lawyer is a village idiot---you hire him. God knows you probably voted for him. Anyone can get online degrees these days---Lawrence needs some ivy league professionals to clean this up.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

What gets me the most is that the city is spending your money and my money on things that are intentionally done to make life miserable for us.

One of the goals of smart growth is to make cities so congested that we will give up our cars and succumb to the cluster f*** life that those who are "oh so much brighter than we are" advocate. Part of the process is to install traffic inhibiting barriers and to time the traffic lights to stop you at every one of them.

For those of you who doubt that this is the case - check it out. Lawrence is the perfect model of the smart growth design, and the three amigos will have no problem telling you that was their goal when elected. Unfortunately, I, like many others in town, had been sleepwalking through life until they began to step on my toes. And I am an ordinary citizen just trying to get through life. I could not tell you the names of the mayors from any other place I have ever lived, let alone names of the commissioners.

There are some serious problems in Lawrence when basic services cannot be met with the outrageous taxes we are already paying. But, then again, look at Portland. It went from one of the most affordable cities to one of the least affordable when smart growth took over.

I am another citizen who is "mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"And your Dada lawyer is a village idiot"

Really? I don't agree with Highberger on everything, but it's certainly not because he is an "idiot." Why don't you have a conversation with him sometime and see if you still believe that?

"Ok Bozo, so why isn't the older infrastructure taken care of first. "

Historically, probably because the taxes that should have gone to doing so were instead used to subsidize new infrastructure in new areas of town.

Now that it has reached the crumbling point, it's getting too noticeable to ignore, I guess.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

'"oh so much brighter than we are" advocate'

Perhaps it's problem with your inferiority complex, rather than the other way around. Have you discussed this self-loathing with a mental health professional?

"There are some serious problems in Lawrence when basic services cannot be met with the outrageous taxes we are already paying."

Which basic services are those? And what are the taxes in Lawrence like, compared to say Topeka, or OP, or Olathe, which I presume you believe are both cheaper to live in and supply all those basic services you believe are lacking?

KsTwister 8 years, 8 months ago

So all the increases in Property taxes in the last 20 years to fix problems in the city we were asked to contribute for was a lie. You said it. And don't tell me new homes are not assessed for "specials" for sewer and sidewalks and streets. Have spoken with Boog, the comment stands.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

And the consequences of a conversation would be what? (Could it be that you might have to admit to yourself that you are full of sh*t?)

"So all the increases in Property taxes in the last 20 years to fix problems in the city we were asked to contribute for was a lie."

Certainly not all, but keep in mind that the PLC bogeymen have only had a voting majority for a little over 3 years. The decades of lying and neglect have merely been exposed under their watch. You'd think that that would be seen as a good thing, but not with the whiners on this forum.

"Have spoken with Boog, the comment stands."

So have I-- many times, over many years. While we've certainly had our differences, anyone who believes he is an "idiot" has serious cognitive difficulties of his own.

KsTwister 8 years, 8 months ago

Your just jealous because I can stand on my own.

lunacydetector 8 years, 8 months ago

jamesaust said: "(And note: when the city decides a traffic circle needs built in newer areas based on expected FUTURE growth, its the City not the land developers who are paying for this do-dad.)"

THAT is NOT true at all. the developer pays for the new roundabouts, then passes that cost on to the new home, making lawrence even less affordable.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

The idea that the cost of living is high, and that housing is too high, is valid only if you compare Lawrence with most Kansas towns and cities west of here. Saying that housing costs are out of control in Lawrence is a total myth when comparing Lawrence to other college towns.

Using CNN's cost-of-living calculator:

Assume $32,000 salary in Lawrence.

In Manhattan, Kansas, you could have the same standard of living on $31,469, but your housing costs would be 2.79% more.

In Topeka, you would need to earn only $30,121, and your housing would be 16.70% less (makes you wonder why people commute from Lawrence to Topeka).

In Lincoln, NE, you'd need $31,855.77, but your housing would be 4.67% more.

In Chapel Hill, you would have to earn $37,353, and your housing costs would be 31.447% higher.

In Eugene, OR, (home of Smart Growth) you would need to earn $35,881, and your housing costs would be 22.862% higher.

In Columbia, MO, you could get by on $31,157, and your housing would be 7.113% less.

And, in Stamford, CT, you would need to earn $49,973, and hour housing costs would be 145.87% higher.

Lawrence is nowhere near out of range for cost of living or housing costs when compared to other cities of its size, and culture.

There are many in Lawrence who stand to benefit, politically, by painting Lawrence as too expensive, and who demand "affordable housing." Those are the ones who would call for more government control, and more restrictions on commerce: in other words, the PLC.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

"Affordable housing" will be the new mantra for the dems in the fall, mark my words...

Rationalanimal 8 years, 8 months ago

Here's an idea for the City Communishers: knock a couple mill off the ONE HUNDRED MILLION dollar Downtown lux-library and spare the property owners from yet another tax hike. I can do without granite counter-tops and brass fixtures in a public library restroom.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

Glad to see you guys carrying the banner of "unaffordable" housing. It pretty well sums up what your true agenda is.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

Ratnionalanimal, you didn't ask for enough. Knock 93mil off the 100mil library project. It was 7 mil when they first started talking about it; somehow it GREW.....

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

bozo wrote: "Glad to see you guys carrying the banner of "unaffordable" housing. It pretty well sums up what your true agenda is."

And what would that be, Dunfield?

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

Housing in Lawrence is not "unaffordable," unless you consider housing in all towns that host research universities to be "unaffordable."

Housing in Lawrence is higher than some people wish it would be. But it is not so high that they will move to some place like Topeka, or Ottawa, or Perry, to escape the high cost. There must be something about Lawrence that these complainers like that they would make demands of the government to artificially lower housing costs through ordinance and restrictions, just so they can stay here.

Move to Manhattan, KS, Chapel Hill, Boulder, Lincoln, Eugene, San Francisco, Seattle, Stratford, Tempe....and pay more for your housing than you do in Lawrence.

Move to Topeka, Wichita, Garnett, Ottawa, Overbrook, Ozawkie, Perry, Oskaloosa, Emporia, Hays, Goodland, Dodge City..... and you will pay less.

It is your choice.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 8 months ago

Some on here have been bitching about the infrastructure,street,sidewalk conditions for quite sometime. Now it's time to fix them and the numbers are in however now the decision makers have issued an ultimatum and they are crititcized for the conditions and now the cost of repair for which they did not create. A more than a decade of overlooking is likely the culprit say from 1987 - 2000. New home construction became the primary objective and guess who had the majority votes on City Commission and Planning Commission.

During the winter some complain about the lack of instant snow removal yet the cost of that action is rarely given a second thought. Let the snow melt and save some dough. Walk,ride the bus or get out the sleds and cross country skis or take the day off.

While builders may now be relaying initial costs to new home buyers the maintenance costs fall on the backs of the entire community. This future costs does not wait until a water main breaks. Meanwhile there are many other costs that a new resident generates over and above sidewalks and streets which is not paid for at the time of home purchase. Such as more staff and equipment to service the new growth. More trash,fire departments,ambulance service, police,detectives,cars for law enforcement,more billing costs in general,fireworks, stop signs,traffic lights,street cleaning,park deparment staff,supplies and equipment and the list goes on.

Downtown has become more rowdy due to growth which costs the city more in law enforcement to keep things somewhat civil....

If many older neighborhoods would have the asphalt removed the neighborhood requests for traffic calming requests would probaly drop significantly. Expose those old brick streets. Yep they would slow down a Mack truck.

I would say don't raise taxes for street repair and work them into budgets as we go. This simply cannot be done quickly if we want quality work. In a few years the newer streets will need repaired. In high dollar cities contractors are going to charge more when RUSH is stamped on projects.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

Basics first; if anything is left over, then the "wants" get covered; no tax increase. This city is not growing. The city budget does not deserve to grow, either.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

Merrill wrote: "downtown has become more rowdy due to growth."

No, Merrill, downtown has become more rowdy because downtown has become a party place, a destination for people who are looking for drugs and action, populated by the patrons of bars and clubs, and because it has become an unquestioning refuge for homeless drug addicts and chronic drunks.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

Those of you who complain about what has become of "downtown," remember that the PLC Commission sent a clear message that, when in Lawrence, drugs are ok. Lawrence will look the other way first, but, if we are forced to catch you, we will call it a misdemeanor.

Thanks, Boog, we certainly appreciate all you do for us.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

This city commission has taken exactly one action with regard to drug laws. They moved jurisdiction for first-offense misdemeanor possession of marijuana from district court to municipal court, and increased the fines.

I don't see how that translates into a clear message of "Drugs are OK."

Rationalanimal 8 years, 8 months ago

bozo-to-a-spectacular-degree:

because the City Communishers had the stroke of genius to allow a citation to be issued instead of an arrest to take place at the initial scene. Most pot users (drug users) could care less about a municipal citation. The real teeth is when someone is cuffed and sent to big-boy prison. As far as the fines go, the increased fines are absorbed as an increased operating cost passed on to customers. The net result, Lawrence is a safe harbor for dope uses.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 8 months ago

Growth and increased crime activity are related. Larger cities have more crime so it stands to reason that as the city grows crime will increase as well which demands a higher budget.

The night scene now has more venues than it had 18-20 years ago which increases the responsibility of law enforcement which equals a higher budget.

Crime is but one of the hidden costs of growth.

Decriminalize the use of marijuana and the crime rate will drop,court dockets will find more time for serious offenses and local law enforcement will be able to devote their time to matters of greater importance. Violent crimes are of greater importance.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Merrill, have you noticed that downtown is still the same size it was 20 years ago? It has not grown. What has changed about downtown is the culture, not the size.

jafs 8 years, 8 months ago

Something is clearly wrong with the city's decision-making process and money-spending habits. The current budget of about $10 million/month should be enough to maintain infrastructure and provide decent city services. I can only speculate, but would guess that the subsidizing of new development projects is a factor in this problem. If tax revenue is spent on such projects, we should know about it. I, for one, do not want my money spent on new housing developments.

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