Letters to the Editor

Where’s Toto?

February 27, 2007

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To the editor:

Near the end of the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz," the cast is mesmerized by the wizard's pyrotechnics. Toto, on the other hand, is slowly pulling back the curtain exposing the fraud. Would Dorothy have made it home without that clever dog?

Sometimes I think we have a similar deception taking place right here in Lawrence. Arguments about growth and development are bandied about with great emotion. Development will destroy us! What seems to have gone unnoticed is the ever-increasing property tax. Each year like clockwork the bill is significantly greater despite a curtailment in development. Guess what, taxes also can destroy! Are we taking too much out of our economy and hastening the acknowledged downturn? Can normal families move here and afford to conduct commerce? Will people start to leave and take their firms and jobs with them?

Maybe it is time for a year or two with no tax increases after all these years of rapid tax growth. During this respite perhaps there could be an independent re-examination of our priorities before we launch off in new directions ($30 million library, New Urbanism demonstration, new recreation center, etc.)? None of these are essential! How much of our current spending is no longer essential?

There are certainly many bills in the state Legislature that would, if passed, force us to perform such a re-examination. Are we in Lawrence the only ones who do not see what is happening? Where is Toto when you need him/her?

George Lippencott,

Lawrence

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

"Development will destroy us! What seems to have gone unnoticed is the ever-increasing property tax."

Unnoticed? Stupid, willy-nilly development does have a very definite effect on your property taxes, George. Just ask Toto, whose counsel you apparently place great stock in.

lounger 8 years, 3 months ago

how about growth and the enviormental impacts? taxes are a concern yet if an eye is not kept on not only astetics but keeping our enviorment clean we are REALLY in trouble. Lawrence has some problems but it is still a very cool town. Its a crying shame that our Kansas RIVER is in terrible shape and seems to be very low on the radar as far as local politics go.

JohnBrown 8 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately, property tax assessments are not under city or county control, but state control. Authority for assessing at 'highest and best use' comes from our Republican controlled legislature...and they have no intention of changing the property tax formula.

To make matters worse, the proprietary computer program used to calculate YOUR property taxes is protected by the Republican-controlled legislature from ever being viewed or examined by anyone from the public. This means, if there is a calculation error in the programming, no one will ever know.

Some will say "but the tax assessor is a county employee". This is technically correct, but it is the KS Dept of Revenue who measures his work, and is the one who can hire and fire assessors, not county commissioners.

When you talk with legislators, they will wring their hands and nod their heads, and agree with you: tax assessmsnts are an issue, and then they will say that it's out of their hands (and point to the rest of the legislature as the culprit). Indeed, all legislators can do this, knowing full well that (if they are a Republican) no one in their party will ever bring up for revision or examination (in any meaningful way), the rules they could change regarding how tax assessors do their job.

It's all way too convenient, but it was built and designed, and IS protected by: Republican legislators.

mick 8 years, 3 months ago

The reason why your property taxes have escalated is because of the exorbitant demands of school teachers. There has been a nation-wide concerted effort by them to demand full-time pay for part-time work. The starting pay nears $30/hour despite the fact that there are eleven applicants for every teacher opening. They also want status on par with engineers, attorneys, architects, doctors, etc. Many people have been brainwashed nationwide by their ploy.

budwhysir 8 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I am sure that toto was worried about the assesment of taxes on his dog house. After this movie became popular, he moved to the west side of lawrence and his 2 bedroom bungalow dog house was twice as expensive as his last house. The taxes soon where too much and he moved to a small city on the edge of the state line.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Mr Lippincott it is primarily the new housing industry that has created this huge imbalance thusly creating a need to increase property values thus increasing property taxes plus sewer rates and other user fee increases. All to cover the cost of what new housing does not pay for itself and that is the Cost of Community Services.

Cost of Community Services list is a fairly long list beyond fire,EMS,Law Enforcement,Courtrooms,swimming pools,public schools,golf course,parks and maintenance of infrastructure and the list goes on. As the city grows so grows the need for more staffing and equipment in many cases. The hidden cost of growth can be substantial.

Basically broadening the tax base with housing also broadens the Cost of Community Services invoice to taxpayers.

New retail is on the table in the NW of Lawrence with the New Urbanism project, the Harris retail project in East Lawrence and some is on the table at the west leg of 6th & K 10.

When buyers pay more than a downtown property is listed that creates inflation/artificial high values thus higher taxes for small business which is not considered friendly. High rents are not friendly to small business. This type of activity forced a downtown quality furniture store out of business for they did not own the building. Considering 5 families control the majority of real estate that is who controls the cost doing a business or buying homes. Perhaps it is their demands that is not friendly to business.

Green collar industry and small business is one way to go if planning for a long term future. For that appears to be where some new money is flowing. A "green-collar job" involves environment-friendly products or services. Construction work on a green building, organic farming, solar panel manufacturing, bicycle repair: all are "green jobs." The green-collar economy is big money, and it's booming. Including renewable energy and clean technology, "green" is the fifth largest market sector in the United States.

bisky1 8 years, 3 months ago

john rebuclican brown republican are republican you republican a republican democrat? republican jeees

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