Archive for Monday, June 11, 2007

Taxes were lost

June 11, 2007


To the editor:

I recently read Doug Brown's column and just now Gwen Klingenberg's response regarding the proposed Wal-Mart at Sixth and Wakarusa. Feelings continue to run strong on both sides of this issue.

Because we retired and relocated back to Lawrence in 2005 - two property tax increases ago - I might be considered too much of a greenhorn to weigh in on this issue. However, here goes:

There's no doubt a new Wal-Mart (God bless their new green soul) or any large-box retailer will create additional traffic in the area. That's why Hereford House (now planning a new start) and others set up shop out here. Also, our city recently spent millions to widen Sixth Street and Wakarusa to four lanes (with double turn lanes on both) to ease congestion.

We live northwest of this intersection and are aware of hundreds of housing units either under construction or planned over the next few years. All within one mile.

Additional retail services - like Wal-Mart - would be beneficial to current and future residents in the area, and thousands of residents west of town - such as Perry, Lecompton, Big Springs, etc. That will increase sales tax revenue for our city.

Sales tax is based on sales revenue - period.

We love and support downtown Lawrence and have felt - for 50 years - that it's a very special place. That's why we drive five miles each way many, many times a week to shop and dine.

But there's no way downtown can fulfill 100 percent of the needs of our city's population west of Wakarusa and the outlying area.

Patrick Kerich,



Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years, 11 months ago

What is it that makes so many believe a Wal-Mart is going to increase sales tax receipts for Lawrence overall? There is simply not some huge population outside Lawrence waiting for a second Wal-Mart to open before they come rushing here with their wallets.

Wal-Mart will just gobble up a bigger share of already-existing sales in town, partly from Wal-Mart numero uno, partly from other big boxes and partly from downtown. The pie is not going to get any bigger, folks, but Wal-Mart's slice will. Thus, there will be less revenue for all other businesses in town already -- including those downtown that make up the unique historic and cultural soul of the city.

People in the sprawling west part of Lawrence deserve services, but we can do better than a greenwashed Wal-Mart that will further erode the city's character and do what it does best -- exploit its workers and this community.

phogm 10 years, 11 months ago

Patrick Kerich said,

"Additional retail services - like Wal-Mart - would be beneficial to current and future residents in the area, and thousands of residents west of town - such as Perry, Lecompton, Big Springs, etc. That will increase sales tax revenue for our city.

Sales tax is based on sales revenue - period."

Let's be clear about one thing; a duplicative store will not benefit Lawrence. It's simple economics 101. The key is NET sales for Lawence.

Patrick referenced the property tax increases since he moved here. His stance in favor of a second Wal-Mart will NOT decrease the property tax burden. In fact, over the long haul, this may actually increase his personal burden due to the loss of real property value in other parts of town and the taxpayer cost of blight removal down the road.

We could argue all day long about the pros and cons of allowing a Wal-Mart store if this were the first one to be proposed for Lawrence.

The problem is the very fact that we ALREADY have a Wal-Mart here in town! People just don't get it. There will be NO increase in sales tax revenues for the city. The only sales will be a shifting of sales from current in-town Wal-Mart customers and from neighborhood people who will shop there instead of Dillons, Westlake, Hy-Vee etc. This will not results in any additional NET retail dollars!

People from the named neighboring communities ALREADY shop here in Lawrence. There a very, very few new retail dollars to add from these towns. They are already shopping either at the existing Wal-Mart or at other businesses in town. This will only be a SHIFTING of dollars. Even if those from these outlying communities who are not now comming to town (who could that really be?) decided to come to a SECOND Wal-Mart (why?) the number of such people would be so small as to be literally insignificant.

The ONLY way a new facility along west 6th street would draw more net retail sales is if it offered a shopping choice (such as a Costco) that is not currently present in town or in the Topkea area. That's the bottom line.

Unlike many communities, Lawrence has a choice as to who will locate to serve the needs of shoppers. Choosing a second Wal-Mart prevents other retailers who will offer a new a differing retail choice from locating on 6th street. Others would present an actual net increase in sales tax revenues to not only stop some retail "leakage" from local residents and actually draw some from the Topeka area for something not available there.

In the end, Wal-Mart has found a way to get what they wanted. They will now end up with a total of 300,000 sf. Obviously, this makes business sense for them.

However, this doesn't mean Lawrence is making a wise decision in allowing Wal-Mart to get their way. Lawrence has the ability to approve retail that will result in an increase in net sales tax revenues. Instead, we are choosing the opposite for the reasons stated above.

karensisson 10 years, 11 months ago

If the writer does not live in Lawrence, they do not have an interest in the traffic problem.

If they love Lawrence so much they want to pay sales taxes here, why won't they drive to the South Iowa Wal-Mart to shop?

karensisson 10 years, 11 months ago

A second Wal-Mart, or a second Target, or a second Pennys, or a second Kohls, or a second Sears, or a second anything, will not increase Lawrence's sales tax revenue.

Putting a second anything at 6th and Wakarusa is wasting the opportunity to add businesses to that corner that WILL bring net sales to Lawrence (or keep dollars here that are escaping to KC). I hate to say it, but a Hooter's and a few chain stores that do not duplicate anything in Lawrence are what would bring more tax revenue to our town. A local-owned business might also, but would take longer to build up a reputation because it wouldn't have instant brand recognition.

Of all the arguments that we should be happy Wal-Mart is going in over there, the sales tax revenue argument is the weakest one of all.

karensisson 10 years, 11 months ago

Apologies to phogm - I just read his post and realized I posted almost exactly the same ideas. Great minds think alike, I guess. But I didn't mean to do that.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

The only one off target is Pilgrim. Snob eh...some would say takes one to know one.

The myth that all new development is good just won't quit. If that is so why have sales and property taxes increased always above normal cost of living rates as well as user fees?

Here might be reason or two: Too damn many new( some crummy) homes thus creating a typical high tax bedroom community Over saturating retail by 30% Forgot Green Collar higher paying light industrial employment Community run by the development/real estate industry who never heard of slow, methodical,practical,balanced and planned growth. * Lawrence being part of two regional retail giants aka Topeka and KCMO/JOCO

Commenting has been disabled for this item.