Archive for Monday, July 16, 2007

Amyx sees sales tax as road rescue

July 16, 2007


City Commissioners looking to avoid property tax increases

City Commissioner Mike Amyx proposes one way to avoid a property tax increase next year. Enlarge video

City Commissioner Mike Amyx is making another proposal to create a sales tax to help pay for city streets.

Amyx on Monday said he wanted commissioners to consider putting up for voter approval a half-cent sales tax that would run for five years. The tax would generate approximately $25 million to $30 million during the five-year period. Amyx is proposing that the money be used to repair the city's street and sidewalk network.

"We need to have a plan if we're really going to make street maintenance a priority," Amyx said. "And I don't think we should place all the burden on property tax owners forever."

Amyx's fellow commissioners expressed some support for the idea, but said they thought the sales tax discussion should wait until after they've completed the 2008 budget process. That process is scheduled to end in early August.

Commissioners, though, said they might want to see some changes to Amyx's plan. Mayor Sue Hack and Commissioner Rob Chestnut said they could prefer a sales tax proposal to fund more than streets. Chestnut said he wanted to look at funding economic development efforts, too.

Commissioner Boog Highberger said he might support a sales tax for streets and sidewalks, but opposed a plan that also sought to raise sales taxes in exchange for a property tax reduction.

"I think that would just make it doubly regressive," said Highberger, who thought renters likely wouldn't see any benefit from a property tax reduction but would feel the pain of an additional sales tax.

Amyx said he was no longer promoting his sales tax proposal as a property tax reduction program. Instead, he said he hoped a new sales tax would make it unnecessary for the commission to further raise property taxes.

Currently the city spends about $5.3 million a year on street maintenance. Amyx said he would like to instead spend all the new sales tax dollars - $5 million to $6 million per year - on street maintenance. He also would use $2 million of the existing street maintenance money on streets. The remaining $3 million of the existing street maintenance budget would be for other city needs.

Amyx said he thought the earliest a sales tax could be implemented would be January 2009. That means city voters would need to approve the sales tax idea in 2008.

Amyx, though, said he would like the City Commission to commit this year to putting the sales tax issue on the ballot. If that doesn't happen, Amyx said he likely would not support the recommended 2008 budget that calls for $5.3 million in street maintenance.

"I want us to improve the streets, but if we are going to catch up we can't do it the way we're doing it now," Amyx said.


grimpeur 10 years, 6 months ago

Does the phrase, "impact fees" mean anything to anyone? It's time to grow up and realize that we can no longer afford not to assess meaningful and significant impact fees on newly-platted and rezoned land.

It is irresponsible to continue to avoid this revenue source, which should have been implemented twenty years ago.

kshiker 10 years, 6 months ago

It means something to me. Talk about "regressive." Lets charge only people who purchase homes in certain neighborhoods an increased fee for street maintenance in the rest of the city. That sounds really fair to me. I already pay special assessments, property taxes and sales taxes in my neighborhood. I don't need to pay for your streets with a new extra fee as well.

kshiker 10 years, 6 months ago

While I have concerns about the additional half-cent increase in the sales tax, I would support it as long as the money was strictly used for economic development and increased street maintenance (no new athletic fields or other city funding). Even though the sales tax is a regressive tax, it is basically the only real source of additional revenue the city has outside of property taxes. Property taxes are already entirely too high in this city.

As a citizen, I know its my duty to pay property taxes to pay for the maintenance and welfare of the entire city and I am more than happy to. However, property taxes have reached a level that are not sustainable over the long term, especially with pending increases in the local option budget for school finance.

toefungus 10 years, 6 months ago

All taxes are too high, including sales taxes. Property valuations have exploded in the last few years. I pay more in taxes than I ever thought I would on my home of 20 years. It is time for a taxpayer revolt. We should parade down Mass with all the other protestors. Instead of throwing candy, we could throw pennies as a sign the government takes our money and throws it away. We have it worse than the colonists did when they complained of taxation without representation. We have our fellow citizens taxing us to death. There is a growing gap between the value of the services we receive and the perception of that value by our government. I am not anti-government. But, I do oppose paying for services I do not want or need. Time to vote people and programs out. Time for our Commissioners to be good stewards, not good thieves. Let's get to work.

Bud Stagg 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree Toe. I'm tired of paying for a T that only a few thousand use. That's money that could be used to repair the roads. Someone told be that we could close the T and pay for taxi's and still save money. I bet it's close to true.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 6 months ago

How many times must I say it: This proposal would have Lawrence sales tax approaching the level of states which don't have an income tax.

Further, I expect a LOT of commuters will start doing their shopping in KC & Topeka if Lawrence jacks up it's already excessive sales tax. For that matter, as high as commuting expenses have gotten, commuters might even make those shrinking census numbers real.

Bubbles 10 years, 6 months ago

For a city that treasures its brick roads which are as rough as a cob, complaining about a few streets that have a few imperfections seems disingenuous to me.

irnmadn88 10 years, 6 months ago

Consumption tax. Buy a motorized vehicle lega to drive on the street, pay a road tax. Renew your registration, pay a road tax. Buy gasoline, pay a road tax. Do not penalize everyone to pay for roads if they buy non-motor vehicle related items (and yes, most people drive to buy them.)

KsTwister 10 years, 6 months ago

"The remaining $3 million of the existing street maintenance budget would be for other city needs." Sounds like another slush fund to me. So voters get ready here comes a 3% increase in your property taxes this year(1 mill city,1.7 mill county) and add that 3.5 to the 7.9 sales tax your already paying. Sales tax of 11.4 cents on the dollar(out of town purchases and the internet will be busy). And don't forget to watch the water rate increase your promised. Not that there will not be additional increases for each year afterward. All so they can build more roundabouts, remodel Carnegie, build a library, more trails,more studies, fund the "T", run a golf course,park & rec picnic plaza,sports complex and buy land with the extra. Things that should wait for a balanced budget. Good luck selling homes at current value. More taxes, City Halls answer to mismanagement.

Rationalanimal 10 years, 6 months ago

"We need to have a plan if we're really going to make street maintenance a priority,"

An admission there hasn't been a plan at City Hall for sometime. The lack of planning is the primary problem, not funding. But, this time is different from all the other tax increases. Now we have a plan to go along with the tax increase. Gosh Wally, that sounds swell. Heck, let's just jack up sales tax to 15 or 20%, shoot, just for kicks, how about 30%. The extent of the creativity at City Hall does not include true innovation, true budget control, true cost savings, true planning, it is limited to unbridled spending and rampant taxation. Thus, the effectiveness of liberal governance. We knew what to expect from the Hack, the Chief Justice, and Amyx for hire. However, Dever, and Chestnut so far have been disappointments in reigning in spending at City Hall.

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