Archive for Saturday, February 24, 2007

Taxes touted to fund repairs

February 24, 2007


— The idea of having counties where regents universities are located increase local property taxes to help pay for $660 million in university repairs is picking up steam in the Legislature.

"The universities are a great economic benefit for those communities that host them," Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said Friday.

"I don't think it's wrong to ask communities to share at least in some small way with this problem," Morris said.

Morris' comments came at the midway point of the 2007 legislative session.

Lawmakers have yet to come to an agreement on how to pay for a mammoth backlog of repairs and maintenance projects that have accumulated over the years at the six regents universities, including Kansas University.

Morris noted that the cities of Wichita and Topeka already assess local property taxes to help support Wichita State University and Washburn University.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, and House Democratic Leader Dennis McKinney, of Greensburg, also said such a proposal should be considered in the other counties where regents institutions are located.

Costs of universities

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, however, said she wouldn't be interested in such a plan.

"Property taxes are too high," Francisco said.

Francisco said legislators also must consider that while universities provide many benefits to their home counties, they also increase costs in public services.

"I hope the Legislature takes its responsibility for some of this funding rather than just identify other people who could spend money on this," she said.

"If we're looking at tuition, we're putting it on students," she said. "If we're looking at local property taxes, we're putting it on that unit of government."

Various plans

So far this session, the House has approved a measure that would free up $15 million in additional funds per year for maintenance. Neufeld said House Republicans will provide an additional measure soon, but said the details hadn't been worked out yet.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has proposed a plan to increase turnpike tolls and borrow funds to provide $575 million over six years. The toll proposal has been panned, but House and Senate leaders say borrowing funds could be part of the mix.

And a Senate task force has issued a report that includes numerous funding ideas, including increasing student fees, property taxes and even expanded casino gambling.

Morris said he would favor dedicating casino gambling revenue to university maintenance.

Morris said a plan that provides the regents universities with $100 million per year for maintenance and repairs would be enough.


Bruce Bertsch 11 years, 2 months ago

The KU budget for Kansas Athletics is ZERO. Kansas Athletics is self sustaqining through the Williams Education Fund and other contracts. This is a problem brought on solely by a legislature that for years and decades has ignored its responsibilities under the false pretense of not raising taxes.

11 years, 2 months ago

i would like to see proof of that -- do you have a link?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 2 months ago

"Raise tuitions, cut salaries, reduce staff, and eliminate programs."

In other words, dismantle the universities.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 2 months ago

Totally unfair to Douglas County taxpayers. If property taxes are to be raised further, they are already far too high, then they should be raised statewide. Not just in counties where these schools are located. I derive no benefit from KU, never have, never will. This proposal sucks. Thank you, Lynn

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

Tax the endowment associations. No entity in Kansas that has more than $1 billion in assets should be free from the burden of taxation.

jmadison 11 years, 2 months ago

Our local school board raised their portion of the property taxes by 14 percent. They are a major reason for high property taxes. Perhaps Sen Francisco has ideas on how to alleviate the outrageous hike by our local tax and spenders, known as the Lawrence School Board.

budwhysir 11 years, 2 months ago

So if the university is supported by tax money, those paying the tax would be able to use the university at no charge?

11 years, 2 months ago

how about using the money that is ear-marked for the new practice football field and admin building next to memorial stadium? the university's priorities for spending are embarrassing... i would like to see what percentage of the university's budget is for the athletic dept. they don't seem to ever be discussing budget cuts in the athletic department -- maybe the athletic dept should donate some of their money back to the university for academics and infrastructure repair this year. now wouldn't that be a grand gesture!

KS 11 years, 2 months ago

What about using the lottery money? If this doesn't come under economic development, I am not sure what will? Make our universities more attractive for those out of state students!

Richard Heckler 11 years, 2 months ago

Between Bush and the Kansas legislature counties and cities have been receiving less money from those sources and it seems both are equally incompetent at managing the cookie jar. Yet the taxpayers are still being required to spend more only on the neoconservative drugs of choice. Sounds like reaganomics to me.

If these two governing bodies are cutting more from local communities how can say Douglas County/Lawrence,Kansas keep more of our tax dollars from the state and federal government so we can pay our bills and take care of business?

Perhaps the state level politicians need to spend time attracting new industry instead of whining. Following Bush around will not do the trick.

Lifelong_Lawrencian 11 years, 2 months ago

The KU budget for Kansas Athletics is ZERO. Kansas Athletics is self sustaqining through the Williams Education Fund and other contracts.

This is mostly true but it is interesting to note that the costs related to the bands are paid for entirely by the music department. Doesn't seem totally fair. Does the athletic dept. pay rent for Allen Field House? Who pays for the parking garage? I know they have financed much renovation. Does anyone know?

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Where is the cry that "Universities don't pay their own way!" I suggest a $250,000 consultant study and community hearings to build a consensus among the various stakeholders on whether or not we need repairs. The Bozo Business Czar will have to study the impact to local businesses of taking more of Lawrence's income for public services. I am sure the PLC Kommissioners have lots of questions!

Raise tuitions, cut salaries, and hire the illegal immigrants who get in state tuition before you come crying to Lawrence property owners for more money. We decriminalized marijuana possession so the students wouldn't lose their precious student loans, what more do you want? But you really can't blame Gov Kathy for trying, Lawrencian's have a history of tolerating and even encouraging higher taxes for anything remotely related to education or expanded government services no matter how unneeded or wasteful.

janeyb 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm a student and have no property in Douglas county, but I think the property tax idea is stupid. However, the people of Lawrence should buy those top administrators a new conference table. After all the old one has a smudge on it. The repair backlogs can't be too dangerous if the remodeling of the chancellor's office takes priority. The administration at KU has proven themselves to be irresponsible with the taxpayers' money and the students' tuition. Don't give them more!! I don't think these tax proposals are meant to be taken seriously, they are intended to force the legislature to look at non-tribal casino gambling and slot machines, etc.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Janeyb, you may have no property in Douglas County but I bet a good portion of your rent goes to pay property taxes. If property txes go up I'll wager your rent will increase dollar for dollar.

But your point is well made. At the heart of the issue is really KU administration playing a game of chicken with taxpayers. They take their budget and don't allocate enough to cover maintenance. Then when a "crisis" occurs, they ask the taxpayers for more money. In the past the taxpayers have always blinked and the Administration is betting they will again.

toefungus 11 years, 2 months ago

The lack of economic growth in Kansas is the number one reason our infrastructure all over the state, universities included, is crumbling. We educate youth and they leave the state for jobs. Tax hikes, toll hikes, you name any hike, and they are only temporary "solutions". It should not surprise anyone that the universities deferred maintenance looks a lot like the run down home problems in old western Kansas towns. To much to maintain for to few people.

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

Kansas should review its tax laws regarding charities. Those that build assets, as opposed to those that spend their donations on charitable activities, should be viewed as profit making corporations, and should be taxed as such.

Kansas should also set a maximum salary for any employee of a tax-exempt charity, if the charity is to remain tax-exempt. The salary should be in relation to the mean wages earned by Kansas citizens.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Raise tuitions, cut salaries, reduce staff, and eliminate programs. For each dollar the Universities save and put towards maintenance the tax payers of Kansas should match dollar for dollar. The Universities can NOT continue to expect a stream of never ending increases in public funding no matter how wasteful, mismanaged, and irresponsible they become.

Let's face the demographic facts. Because of the reduced birth rates in the United States the population is getting older and older. As the population ages there will be a decreasing population of college students and a decrease of a need for Universities. Lawrence had better begin right now to transition away from its reliance on the taxpayer fueled economic engine that is the University of Kansas.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Let's not also forget that as the population gets older they will be passing their peak income earning years. There will be less and less income to tax for a system meant to serve a demographic that is declining. Seriously, this does paint a picture of a growing market nor revenues for KU.

fletch 11 years, 2 months ago

"Tax the endowment associations. No entity in Kansas that has more than $1 billion in assets should be free from the burden of taxation."

You can't. The KU Endowment is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Federal tax laws prevent them from taxation.

"Raise tuitions, cut salaries, reduce staff, and eliminate programs. For each dollar the Universities save and put towards maintenance the tax payers of Kansas should match dollar for dollar."

Where have you been? KU just went through a 5 year severe tuition hike program on top of yearly increases for over 2 decades. During that time, the state has cut the allocation every year. They've also cut programs and staff (anthropology museum), and started charging fees for services that were previously free. KU has tightened it's belt more than it's fair share. It's time for the state legislature to stop holding higher ed hostage.

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