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Archive for Saturday, August 25, 2007

Support for sales tax gaining momentum

Commissioners leaning toward increase; voters would have to approve plan

Craig Nowatzke, right, owner of "SunDog," an outdoor food cart, makes change for Jon Klassen, Lawrence, Friday in downtown Lawrence. Four of five city commissioners support the idea of raising the sales tax to provide a new multimillion dollar revenue source for the city.

Craig Nowatzke, right, owner of "SunDog," an outdoor food cart, makes change for Jon Klassen, Lawrence, Friday in downtown Lawrence. Four of five city commissioners support the idea of raising the sales tax to provide a new multimillion dollar revenue source for the city.

August 25, 2007

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Support for a new citywide sales tax is continuing to grow inside City Hall.

On Friday, the list of commissioners expressing support for some type of new sales tax grew to four. Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he's convinced that the city needs a new revenue source, and believes that a sales tax would be fairer than a property tax.

"I'm looking at property owners here, and they have seen a very rapid increase in costs over the last several years," Chestnut said. "A sales tax does start to spread the costs to folks who may not be residents here."

That leaves Commissioner Mike Dever as the lone commissioner expressing skepticism about the need for a new sales tax.

"I still believe the city needs to do more looking within before we start asking the community for new money," Dever said. "I really believe that."

A half-percent sales tax is estimated to raise between $5 million and $6 million per year. Any new sales tax, by state law, must be approved by voters in a citywide election.

Commissioners are scheduled to have their most detailed sales tax discussion yet at a study session at 4 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Much of the discussion may center on what a new sales tax should fund. Commissioners are far from a consensus on that issue. Commissioner Mike Amyx previously has proposed a half-percent sales tax that would sunset after five years. It would be used to fund street and sidewalk repairs, and new infrastructure projects designed to make the city more attractive to new companies.

But in recent days, commissioners Chestnut, Boog Highberger and Mayor Sue Hack have said they want to see if there were room to add at least one "amenity project" onto the list of items to be funded by a sales tax.

Highberger is pushing for it to be a new downtown library project, while Chestnut and Hack said they would consider either the library or a proposal to add recreation facilities to the community.

On Friday, Highberger added a twist to the debate. He said perhaps the city should be considering not one but, rather, two sales tax proposals. Highberger said he wants to explore a small sales tax - something less than a quarter percent - that could be used to fund construction of a new library.

Unlike Amyx's proposal, the second sales tax would not sunset after five years. Instead, it would be permanent, or last at least 30 years to pay for the library bonds. Highberger said the commission could put that sales tax question on the ballot in addition to the infrastructure sales tax proposed by Amyx.

Voters could choose to support both, one or none.

"I think we need to prioritize our needs and give them to the public and let the public give us a thumbs up or thumbs down," Highberger said. "But I feel like we need to put something before the voters on the library soon."

Hack said Highberger's idea of two separate ballot questions was intriguing.

"That could be a good compromise," the mayor said.

It would not be one that would sway Dever. He said if he ultimately does decide to support a sales tax, it would need to be for infrastructure and for economic development purposes.

"The only way I would feel comfortable supporting a new sales tax is if it would be used to take care of what we already have, and to attract new businesses that could help take some of the financial burden off the existing community," Dever said.

Chestnut said he still wants more information on how many projects a half-percent sales tax could support. He said he wants to add an amenity project, but only if it doesn't short-change needed street and infrastructure improvements. Chestnut said he's not sure an amenity project needs to be added in order for a sales tax to win voter approval.

"Our last city survey showed that infrastructure is on everybody's mind," Chestnut said. "People want their streets to be better. I think a sales tax that accomplishes that could receive a lot of interest from the public."

Comments

cool 6 years, 7 months ago

kansasdaughter (Anonymous) says: 50yearresident- "Support for a new citywide sales tax is continuing to grow inside City Hall."

I also was wondering who was supporting a new tax. Of course, it is those inside City Hall.

you've got it !

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cool 6 years, 7 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says: If the library is put to a vote will it be a: 8 million dollar on site improvements 17 million dollar project ( no parking package)( only package that gets my vote) 30 million dollar project 50 million dollar project no improvements Why is a $10 million parking project attached to the cost of the library?

the parking project is for the Fritzel's and group of investors in the ELDRIDGE ! they need more parking and a new library nearby to provide meeting room space for the Eldridge !

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swan_diver 6 years, 7 months ago

What Lawrence needs is a fee placed on development -- like thousands of communities have nation-wide -- so that developers pay their fair share in exchange for their profits -- instead of operating off public largesse. This is what the so-called 'progressives' were to inact, after their 2003 electoral victories -- but they got horn-schwagaled, flummoxed and bought off before they could make their moves. Now the fox is in the hen house once again -- and the solution to Lawrence's 'inexplicable' financial difficulties (spelled fraud) is more tax and spend.

Where are all the right-wing anti-tax zealots in Lawrence, who could shrink this poor excuse for a local governmnent down to where you could drown it in a bathtub?

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 7 months ago

Amyx is not vocal enough. Amyx is supporting the sales tax increase.

"they" the commissoners believe that a tax increase will give them so many millions. When it doesn't happen...then what.

They don't get it now, later , or ever.

Reduce the sales tax. Cut budgets. This library promotion is nothing but a play for Fritzel to develop downtown and sadly, he is not J.C. Nichols. The taxpayers have fed the Hill family, the Simons family, the Schmalbergs, the Moore family, the Emick family (anyone remember the ditch filled in at Emick's place on 6th street)B.A. Green construction, Sabatini family,,the new kids on the block, not to mention the ongoing hiring of Treanor, Landplan, B&G consulting...the list goes on and on.

Lawrence has been breast feeding for decades. Ever tase sour milk? Ever look at old teats and wonder how much more milk they can produce. Start looking and look closely!

Hearthstone House is owned privately and was funded by the city, under the name of a bogus trust.

East Hills business park was funded by the public, purchase and sewer, etc and the initial money never put back into the taxpayers coffers. The J/w still has never disclosed the private partners.

Look at the office space rented around town by local government entiitys and who the LANDLORDS are.

Everyone keeps talking about Langston Hughes this and that and how Langston Hughes found refuge in the library,,,,a building without a mortgage.

Come back Little LANGSTON and visit the conversations now about a LIBRARY with a mortgage.

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janeyb 6 years, 7 months ago

Hasn't the LJW printed articles that sales tax collections are down in Lawrence because of the new shopping in Wyandotte county?

In addition to the money required to build a new library, a new and larger library will require more staff, collection development and security. The new Topeka library quickly became the free after-school care center. It is a nice library, but the unsupervised kids get wild.

Does the Lawrence library have fines? Topeka has no fines and the popular movies have to be replaced about every 3-6 months, because of damage or just failure to return. A new library building is only the beginning. Tax increases will be required every year to keep it staffed and updated.

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situveux1 6 years, 7 months ago

Mari...when you feel like taking a break from la-la land you can come visit me in reality. The city budget is over a million bucks short and you think it's a good idea to spend $30 million on a library? If you didn't have enough money at the end of the month to pay rent would you go out and buy a $20,000 mini-van because eventually 5 or 10 years down the road you'll have kids and then you'll need that van? Get real! You're an idiot.

"Something that may have to eventually be improved or replaced".....

When it needs to be replaced then give me a call. Until then come back home to a real argument.

Who cares if it was only a penny for every $100 spent...why should I give up even a penny of my hard earned money for the city to piss it away. I need to save that penny to have my car re-aligned from driving on Lawrence streets.

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Mari Aubuchon 6 years, 7 months ago

Good Grief! Half or even three-quarters percent is very, very little to ask to maintain our infrastructure and bring our library up to par. We are talking 50 to 75 CENTS for every $100 you spend. Do you really think that that will drive away potential shoppers? I really doubt it.

Also, how can anyone expect a library that was built to service a town that was half the current population to still function effectively? Stating that we should not be spending money on something that may have to eventually be improved or replaced is simply ludicrous. Do you take this same view of roads or fire engines?

I will vote YES for a sales tax increase.

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swan_diver 6 years, 7 months ago

As situveux1 says -- run a recall campaign, basically about one over-arching issue, against one sitting commissioner -- and turn it into a grassroots action, to create a coherent response to the arrogance and lack of vision and public purpose of the majority of this commission. Target the so-called 'mayor.' Attack the policies and actions -- and not the individual. Such a campaign would stir up a tremendous amount of sh*t -- and create a great object lesson for political science and public administration professionals up at KU.

Those folks are about the only people who would benefit, unfortunately, as there are too few real rebels in town capable of working together to stage a coup.

I agree that a balloted sales tax would pass, as the administrators of the city and school district are indeed in a good to position to effectively blackmail a vast majority of the the lemmings who live here.

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gccs14r 6 years, 7 months ago

I've got company and don't have time to read all the comments, so I don't know if someone else already pointed this out, but a quick way to reduce retail sales (and by extension, tax receipts) in Lawrence is to raise the sales tax. If we were to reduce our sales tax below that of nearby cities, we would then draw their residents here to shop, importing their sales tax dollars.

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LarryLawrence 6 years, 7 months ago

Gaining support? Where or Who? Not me or my friends.

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max1 6 years, 7 months ago

"Dever will go along with the plan in the end." -hawkperch

Yep, Hack's winged monkeys are in a tight flight pattern, with the exception of Amyx, who seems to be the only one with his feet on the ground. I actually support his proposed 1/2 cent sales tax increase which he claims would be spent on things other than Hack's "visions" (hallucinations). The world hasn't experienced as many visions as Hack's since Ezekiel saw the wheel way up in the middle of the air.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 7 months ago

If Dever truly believes that other ways to increase revenue should be done, let's hear about it. Dever will go along with the plan in the end. He has no plan!

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 7 months ago

Sadly, a sales tax increase will pass by a large majority if the vote is taken. Why? There is hatred rampant about KU students in Lawrence. The paper helps perpetuate the myth that students don't pay a fair share.

The Journal World will continue to brainwash the public into believing that a sales tax is "good". You sure don't think that the J/W wants to pay more property taxes? You think that Dolph wants to pay more for his house on Vermont Street? Of course not. So, sales tax is "good".

The commissioners are either clueless or just plain stupid. They have already increased the sales tax revenue. They raised the water bills which are taxed by the city. Westar and Aquila have raised their customer service charge and fees which are taxed by the city.

So, already the city will get an increase. Pennies some say...so what. It will never be enough for a city led by the inept.

As for the library issue. A new library board is needed as well as a new director. Neither will happen because the current director has a patronage job as are many in this town in the city employment, university employment and banking industry. History proves it.

It is a sad day that the city commission does not understand that a source of revenue is paid parking at night. The business community operating during daytime hours deserve what will happen to downtown. More store closings to come.

SUE, you are a disappointment as a leader. Dever and Chestnut the same. Of course Chestnut doesn't want a property tax increase. You think Allen press wants to pay more? NO.

What will the commissioners come up with when they find that sales tax revenue has not increased as "planned"? Then what?

Desperate folks make desperate decisions and these commissioners are desperate.

End of story. The J/W may as well get the headline ready, the current ones are misleading anyway. New headline after the sales tax vote will read: Community is caring and sharing. Sales tax passes and city can now improve the quality of life.

There is no way that those who do not want a sales tax increase can kill the vote. NO way, when you have over 800 employees in the city employ who have already gotten their raise which is substantial, no way to kill the vote when the school district is the second largest employer. See, no one wants their property taxes to go up so a sales tax sounds "good".

Students will be played for fools because they don't vote on sales tax issues. Now then if this vote was promoted and told that tax would go up on beer, cigarettes, city water bills, cell phone bills, landline bills, cable TV bills(you don't hear the J/W talking about what will be taxed do you?)

Sloppy reporting. If the reporter wrote an informative story, every thing that would get taxed would be listed.

Dare the J/W to do that?!

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max1 6 years, 7 months ago

"Impact fees. . . Do it now." -grimpeur

Check the link on the left margin of this page. Impact fees http://www.lawrenceks.org/study_sessions/08-27-07/08-27-07h/ls_impact_fee_memo_8_22_07.html

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grimpeur 6 years, 7 months ago

Impact fees.

$15 per square foot.

Do it now.

If a city can't figure out how or is stubbornly unwilling to make money off growth, it is forced to increase the burden on existing sources. Commissioners, if you refuse to consider this important and available revenue source, don't come to me asking for more money.

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max1 6 years, 7 months ago

"Pure propaganda." -Stain

I think the library is playing a game of statistics for propaganda purposes as well.

http://www.lawrencian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=332&Itemid=41 A Library Plan that Fails to Satisfy by Jerry L. Harper The library recently celebrated a milestone: the one-millionth item checked out this year. The dirty little unshared secret is that a very large number of those were not books, but videos, DVDs, CDs and tapes. The library has really become a major entertainment center - cheaper than Blockbuster, not quite as convenient at Netflicks.

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Stacy Napier 6 years, 7 months ago

Why don't that Tax what Lawrence really has a lot of, Drunk college kids. We should tax all liquor by the drink sales at %100. That is not going to hit the everyday Joe in the pocket book by taxing things he needs like food, clothing, etc. I don't think the working man who just gets by wants a new recreation center or park.

GIVE ME A BREAK.

This city has pleanty of money coming in it is all about how they use it. Has the LJW ever really looked at the City's books. Why do you think they are self insured for all there insurance. They make money at it. Health, Auto, Libility etc. The city makes money everywere and then they want more.

Why don't they annex Doug Comptons home and neighbourhood. That would generate a great amount of property tax income that they don't have currently. There are numerous over 1million dollar houses out there, and the city is all around the development, but has not annexed it.

Vote No to sales tax.
They won't spend it wisely anyway.

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toefungus 6 years, 7 months ago

The only way I would support a sales tax increase is if it would reduce property taxes and property tax rates would not increase for 10 years minimum. We are actually increasing our tax burden. Home valuations are not rising and some are falling. Property taxes will not be enough next year, even with a new sales tax, to avoid raising. The Commissioners know this and are ramming through a sales tax to buy time and will be raising property taxes in two years, minimum! The roads around schools are being neglected as a form of advertising. See, we need more money. This is all outrageous. Voting against the increase is not just killing the sales tax, but telling government we have had enough!

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situveux1 6 years, 7 months ago

This is absolutely the first time I've seen a comments thread on LJW that is COMPLETELY in agreement. Doesn't that say something about their tax and spend ideas?

What would happen if someone could find a reason to recall a commissioner? It wouldn't even have to be over the sales tax and it wouldn't even have to be all of them...just one would send a very strong message.

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gl0ck0wnr 6 years, 7 months ago

It is wildly entertaining to watch Lawrence no-growth/tax & spend itself into a downward spiral.

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VoiceOfReason 6 years, 7 months ago

The nutcases can't be stopped. That's why the exodus is accelerating out of town. The census numbers (along with rental vacancy rates) confirm the mass exodus, but their tax projections don't count on people revolting and leaving, so they claim the numbers are wrong..."just look at the traffic on 23rd Street!"

Dumb***es are just going to have themselves to tax for their nice little "amenity projects" eventually.

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Nick Yoho 6 years, 7 months ago

How much revenue do the $2 parking tickets create?I'm no fan of tickets,but would $5 be unreasonable for anyone to pay?Parking tickets run $28.50 in KC.

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Jaehde 6 years, 7 months ago

Surely we all know the property tax increase increase is a done deal. Who is pushing this agenda? Probably the same folks who heavily funded the campaigns of some of new comissioners. Personally, it won't make much difference financially, but for those with lots of property, it does. Who are the few that will get out and vote? Probably the same few as last election. Figure it out.

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Godot 6 years, 7 months ago

putting two sales tax proposals on the same ballot is sheer criminal genius. Confuse people as to which they are voting on, obfuscate with paragraph upon paragraph of legalese printed in type so small you cannot read them in the poorly lit voting booths.....

The Chamber is going to be behind this, full throttle, so they will do considerable advertising to get it passed; and, of course, our own tax dollars will be used against us to pay for the campaign to pass the tax increases. No doubt the school district will get involved, too, using the bully pulpit of the teachers to tell the kiddies that, if their parents really love them, they must vote for the new library. I would not be surprised if they hold a mock sales tax election for the students so they can "learn" about the process,

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Godot 6 years, 7 months ago

Who would buy bonds backed by sales tax revenues in Lawrence when Lawrence has a track record of decreasing sales?

And financing for 30 years? The current library is deemed inadequate after only 35 years. Looks like our kids will just get this boondoggle paid off, and then will have to fund another one,

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KS 6 years, 7 months ago

Cowboy, they don't need to know how to read a "balance sheet". They just need to look at the income statement. Big difference. That should tell them enough.

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 7 months ago

I would vote for a tax if they put into writing that they will fix the roads on the east side of town. The residential roads are horrible, but have you driven down the heavily traveled 19th street near the high school? It's a mess, and our kids are driving on that everyday. Instead they want to "fix" Wakarusa, so those kids don't have to feel any bumps ever. I'll vote no unless there is some guarantee about where the money is going.

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macon47 6 years, 7 months ago

this will be an excellent way to tax oursleves into prosperity new library, new parks and stadiums, new everything we can extend the pool hours buy more busses. wont life be grand! after all , it is just money,

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Stew 6 years, 7 months ago

This is getting ridiculous. What is wrong with saying NO now a days? Or accepting the consequences of our actions. I mean it sucks that some previous commission did not plan for the future by saving each year for a newer library or city streets because now we have to suffer the consequences. But that is how life goes so let us be the strong ones and take the consequences of someone else's action and then not do the same to the next generation.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

If the library is put to a vote will it be a: 8 million dollar on site improvements 17 million dollar project ( no parking package)( only package that gets my vote) 30 million dollar project 50 million dollar project no improvements Why is a $10 million parking project attached to the cost of the library?

========= My vote is no on a superdome!!! Lawrence has space available in existing parks for more ball diamonds and outdoor soccer space plus YSI. =========

Both high schools could use The Free State Football field if citizens declare that field a neutral zone considering taxpayer dollars from all sides of town paid for it.

Yes older infrastructure needs attention. Why continue with new infrastructure when we cannot afford what we have?

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kansasdaughter 6 years, 7 months ago

50yearresident- "Support for a new citywide sales tax is continuing to grow inside City Hall."

I also was wondering who was supporting a new tax. Of course, it is those inside City Hall. I can hardly believe these people (on the commish). How can we stop this insanity? Can we stop this insanity?

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just_thinking 6 years, 7 months ago

hey if that's want people want than so be it

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plumberscrack 6 years, 7 months ago

It just goes to show you that politicians will LIE to get into office and do whatever they want!

It doesn't matter who is in office, they have their own reasons, agenda's for running for office and once they get in, they don't care what the people who voted them in think! The truth is, times for Lawrence will get a lot tougher before they get better!

A few votes of NO! NO! and NO! ought to do it. Then vote in people who are the least likely to lie, cheat and steal, for commissioners, as it's a crap shoot to find someone who truly feels they're in there to vote "the will of the people".

And by the way....."commissioners Chestnut, Boog Highberger and Mayor Sue Hack have said they want to see if there were room to add at least one "amenity project" onto the list of items to be funded by a sales tax" just means: LET'S SEE IF WE CAN SLIP THIS ONE BY THE DUMB SOB'S. (tax payers)

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sandysslick 6 years, 7 months ago

The Idiot's Guide to Lawrence Kansas:

Ignore all evidence of fact and rationalize everything you desire.

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50YearResident 6 years, 7 months ago

Who is supporting and adding momentum to this sales tax increase?

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cowboy 6 years, 7 months ago

Complete amateur hour , while the entire city staff and commission were incapable of reeling in their wasteful spending during the budget cycle , they now are trying to run their pipe dreams on a new tax proposal.

And lets note that last week they continued the spree of giving away city money by funding a concert downtown . Do any of them know how to read a balance sheet ?

This will have to go to the ballot and after it is voted down maybe they will get the hint that fiscal responsibility and accurate long term planning are the answers , not just passing new taxes to fund your fantasies !

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sandysslick 6 years, 7 months ago

Tax and spend..........you idiots, voted for them, now live with it! Losers

(Idiot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Idiot" was originally created to refer to people who were overly concerned with their own self-interest and ignored the needs of the community....)

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

A major problem with this LJW article is lack of details.

And statements such as this: "and new infrastructure projects designed to make the city more attractive to new companies." What type of new companies? When the city is overloaded with retail created by developers and commissioners that is a done deal which will be difficult to change. " new infrastructure projects" Again what are the commissioners talking about?

" amenity project" = The high dollar superdome for soccer an outdoor sport that should be played outdoors. "add recreation facilities to the community" again this must be the superdome which did not receive overwhelming support from the telephone survey. What is the likelihood of payback on this project, that will require a variety of staffing, considering the tremendous amount of competition from KCMO/JOCO and Topeka for these dollars? The city commission has no idea.

Why doesn't the commission be very specific instead of using vague terms such as " amenity project" ? Is it the superdome and/or a convention center attached to a private hotel? Spring Hill Suites,The Holidome and KU have convention space probably more than enough for a town the size of Lawrence.

The bottom line a sales tax proposal needs to be for specific projects not for "economic growth enhancements" or " amenity project" which could mean anything. Again after 25 years of allowing the developer/real estate industry to run the town and expand our tax base where is the money? Does Lawrence have many years of wrong decisions that were made without using the proper studies? The telephone survey regarding the superdome was not an economic impact study it was a popularity study again that which did not provide overwhelming support.

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KS 6 years, 7 months ago

If they put a sales tax issue on the ballot and tell us it is for a library, they are continuing to waste our money. It will go down to defeat. If they put a sales tax issue on the ballot and tell us it is "solely" for streets and no economic development and that it will sunset in five years, it "might" pass.

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Eybea Opiner 6 years, 7 months ago

Time to make the tax base broader, not deeper. Forget the library. I'm there every week, and it's doing it's job just fine.

Read my lips, no new taxes!

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Warren6032 6 years, 7 months ago

Will the new sale tax (if approved) be used to repair the streets (pot holes, curves and stuff), or be use to build ridiculous stuff like round-abouts?

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northtown 6 years, 7 months ago

Tax,Tax,Tax,What for,and for something this city does not need!! NO NEW LIBRARY !!!! REPAIR THE STREETS.....The city commiish have lost it and now,just like the last bunch are on a spending spree!!! Fun spendind someone else's money!!! Stop this now,,write them,call them,the commish and tell them whst you think!!! Do not let them WASTE more money and tax the people out of town..They just complained about folks shopping out of town so drive more out..Gasoline is high,but cheaper than shoping here!!! ALSO STOP THE T-nobody rides it,what a waste of money-FIX THE STREETS,NO NEW LIBRARY,maybe build on to the one they have and put a parking garage next to it,,COME on comish wake up and see what the citizens want!!!

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jmadison 6 years, 7 months ago

Our politicians can't be trusted to do the right thing. They won't provide any property tax relief if a sales tax increase is approved. Look at the history of all the special sales tax increases in Lawrence in the past. No property tax abatement of any consequence or lasting duration. Also the school board would not feel bound to tame their voracious appetite for tax dollars.

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Stain 6 years, 7 months ago

Journal-World hyping the sales tax with their headlines? Why am I not surprised.

Pure propaganda.

Throw the bums out.

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swan_diver 6 years, 7 months ago

It will be interesting to see if a majority of the few 'citizens' of Lawrence who will show up at the polls to vote on this well-described extortion scheme are stupid enough to buy it. But nothing would surprise me, in this most 'progressive' of Kansas communities. The business and governmental interests who mismanage Lawrence wouldn't know shame if it smacked them in the face like a jilted lover.

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max1 6 years, 7 months ago

"still wondering about the original design and engineering of the library way back when, wasn't it built with the intention of allowing a third floor for future expansion" -lunacydetector

I've heard it was designed to hold an additional floor, but I've also heard the opposite. Whatever the case, a third floor could be added as a free standing structure.

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 7 months ago

I feel so betrayed that I cannot believe it!

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lunacydetector 6 years, 7 months ago

...an amenity project = an luxury project - call it for what it is.

still wondering about the original design and engineering of the library way back when, wasn't it built with the intention of allowing a third floor for future expansion - or is this something totally bogus i heard or are the powers that be sweeping this info under the rug?

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Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

No it's not. We want streets and roads a priority, not used as extortion after everything else is funded.

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camper 6 years, 7 months ago

The hot dogs at Craig's corner are pretty darn good. Truly hits the spot if you are downtown and are hungry.

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