Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sales tax gains favor among commissioners

Hack, Amyx see hope for 1/2-cent plan

June 14, 2007

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Three questions with Mayor Sue Hack

Mayor Sue Hack answers three questions about her thoughts for a new Lawrence sales tax.

A sales tax compromise is in the works at City Hall

A compromise is in the works at City Hall that could lead Lawrence voters to decide on a new half-cent sales tax. Enlarge video

The seeds of compromise may be taking root when it comes to proposals for a new citywide sales tax.

Both Mayor Sue Hack and City Commissioner Mike Amyx said Thursday they were willing to back away from their competing 1-cent sales tax proposals. Instead, both said they could envision a new half-cent sales tax, but the two commissioners still had differences on how new tax dollars should be used.

"We've talked, and I don't think we're that far apart," Hack said.

Amyx said he wants a sales tax that would focus on repairing streets and sidewalks, while providing property tax relief.

Hack said she would like a broader sales tax that would fund infrastructure, economic development, a new library and additional recreation amenities proposed by the Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth, or PLAY, committee. But Hack said she might be able to support a narrower version that would include only infrastructure and economic development funding.

Both also agree that a sales tax should be ended after 10 years.

Any new sales tax would have to be approved by city voters, but first a majority of city commissioners must agree to put the issue on a ballot. If Hack and Amyx could reach agreement, that would be two of the three necessary votes.

City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said Thursday that he would be willing to entertain a half-cent sales tax proposal, and said he was glad Hack and Amyx had backed off the idea of a full 1-cent tax.

"A half-cent has merit," Chestnut said. "I do agree that 1 percent would be pretty aggressive."

A potential sticking point between Amyx and Hack may be the issue of property tax relief. Amyx said he thinks it is a necessity for any sales tax proposal. Hack said she would love to support it, but is not sure the city can afford to cut property taxes during tough economic times.

Amyx, though, said the tight economy dictates the need for a property tax cut.

"We just can't afford to put much more load on property owners," Amyx said. "If we can show that there is property tax relief built into this plan, I think it will work with the public."

Based on current sales, a half-cent sales tax would raise about $6 million per year. That's roughly the amount of money the city has been told it needs to spend on street maintenance next year to stop existing streets from falling into serious disrepair. Millions more are needed to replace existing streets that already are in disrepair.

The city is now spending about $5 million - garnered mainly from property taxes - on street maintenance. Amyx said he would like to use as much as possible of that $5 million for property tax relief. But he said he would consider using it to boost existing operations, such as the city's economic development program.

"I don't think we can bring in new projects, though," Amyx said. "It doesn't take long for new projects to eat up all the property tax relief."

That means plans for a new library and the PLAY proposal would have to wait. Chestnut said he also was willing to put PLAY and a library on the back burner, if it was determined that a half-cent sales tax wasn't enough to adequately fund everything.

"I think infrastructure should be a priority and economic development should be a priority," Chestnut said. "The amenity projects should be considered after that."

The earliest a sales tax question could be on the ballot is November, although April also is a possibility. Commissioners likely will discuss the sales tax issue at their budget study session set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Comments

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

I smell conspiracy. I am willing to bet that the city brought up 6% budget cuts across the board just so they could raise taxes.

"I propose a new tax on smugness. " Let's extend that to shear stupidity.. I figure that Corliss can just go ahead and write his whole paycheck over now.

If they need to raise taxes to fix the roads, then fine, because the roads in this town are the worst of any decent sized city in the midwest. How is this possible? Isn't Lawrence home to the Kansas Geologic Survey, whose job it is to survey the roads and ensure the proper bases?

warthog 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, by all means pass a sales tax increase for Lawrence. It's a great idea and will solve so many problems, if they can figure out what to spend it on. In order to determine the best use, they can use the sales tax money to fund a study to find out what has priority. And if the first study doesn't meet their criteria, you keep funding more studies until they come up with what you had in mind in the first place.

momof4 8 years, 2 months ago

We knew this was coming when they came up with the budget crisis.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

This lacks specifics as did the last proposal. How EXACTLY will the money be spent? Thus far my vote is NO.

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

They even found some yellowcake, er, "projected budget shortfall" to make us fall for this.

Say no to the Hack tax.

Say no to the hack and tax commission.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

My, my, why am I not surprised?

Weeks of threats to slash the budget of every popular and vital service the city provides - a new one on the chopping block every week - and the people are convinced.

Boy, people are dumb!

You're being manipulated, folks. I'm shocked at how easily. Straight out of the playbook of Karl Rove.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

It scares me when I agree completely with Marion.

PapaB 8 years, 2 months ago

Sue is ignoring the fact that there are two ways to balance a budget.

If I don't have enough money for something I want, I save for it. Should be an easy concept for someone who has taught economics, like Sue.

Lets just ignore that towns in western kansas give homeless people a bus ticket to Lawrence, saying "They'll take care of you there." Apparently, Sue and her buddies (PLAY) want all the amenities of a big city before they've "earned it."

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Another lousy headline from the Journal-World, revealing their bias.

"Sales tax gains favor" - I fully thought they were going to show me citizen polls were coming in for the sales tax.

"Sales tax gains support among city commissioners" would be the responsible headline. The one they used is misleading and manipulative.

Shame on the Journal-World - again.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

"Hack said she would like a broader sales tax that would fund infrastructure, economic development, a new library and additional recreation amenities proposed by the Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth, or PLAY, committee."

Looks like Mayor Hack is delivering to her developer friends. Delivering the taxpayers to them, that is.

toefungus 8 years, 2 months ago

I am very disappointed, but this is just a proposal. I have a feeling that with property taxes so high, fuel prices so high, and housing values stuck or falling, there will be a general backlash to this proposal. I also think there is a a crystal ball in city hall. Property tax revenue could actually stop rising or fall due to the housing slump.
This tax is so cruel in Kansas because food and pharmacy is not exempt.

I propose a new tax on smugness. A progressive tax that rises with the smugness of the person. We can have a drive by collection service for the really smug. The really smug will actually enjoy being seen making the payments. Oh, joy for all.

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

Nope, keep the cuts coming and balance the budget. If you come up with policies that increase sales you will automatically increase sales tax revenues. Of course that might mean not stifling new retail (Walmart), not wasting hundreds of thousands dollars on studies (with predetermined conclusions on things they can't possibly know with certainty), attorney fees (Walmart), letting owners decide how to best manage their own businesses and maximize their sales (like whether or not they will or will not allow adults to smoke in their establishments, for instance), and forcing MV Transportation to design a Bus system that doesn't require a $2.70 subsidy for each and every ride ($1,400,000 per year each and every year). Try some of these things first before you resort to raising taxes. The fact is that sales tax revenues (and therefore sales) peaked in 2005 and fell in 2006 (see pg 85, below) and I bet not one of your studies can tell you why. http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2007/cityoflawrenceks2007budget.pdf

The new Lawrence Sewer and Water Municipal Bonds are priced this Friday. I expect they will be priced to yield around a 4.65% to maturity and 4.7% to first call and they had to be privately insured (MBIA) in order to get that rate! The money we had to spend insuring those bonds in order to get that rate reflects our credit risk and demonstrates how weak we are financially. Everyone in the financial world knows it, but this Commission seems in denial still. The Merc may need and get interest free loans from Realtor's but ain't nobody going to lend money to the City-O-Lawrence for free and from what I hear they don't accept "Local Boog Dollars." http://www.municipalbonds.com/archive/KS/

If you don't balance the budget and make some fundamental changes, raising sales tax will only get you a few more tax dollars to throw down a rat hole. If you are happy with current policies, fine live with the consequences and live within the budget. If not, don't come crying to take more money from the good people of Lawrence until you first make some changes. Raising sales taxes will simply make the problem worse by leaving less for hard working Lawrencian's to spend on goods and services, not to mention it encourages commuters to buy in Topeka or KC where both prices and taxes are lower.

When was the last time any city was able to simply tax their way to prosperity? So sorry Sue and Mike, it ain't that easy. You've made a good start but with a long road ahead of you.

peppermint 8 years, 2 months ago

Now instead of calling them the Slash and Burn Commission, we can call them the Slash, Burn and Tax Commission.

cowboy 8 years, 2 months ago

you told us so , i didn't believe it but it all seems to be falling in place

Ok we don't seem to have any real intent on cutting costs despite our rhetoric , so we get everybody stirred up , have a couple hearings in which the city managers obviously didn't take it seriously , then we take a taxpayers paid trip to Cali for a few days and come back and voila we have a sales tax increase on the table.

now I'd be willing to bet that the frigging library expansion will be approved next week !

Get your sh!t together commission and focus back on cutting this behemoth budget down.

Stephen Prue 8 years, 2 months ago

the city needs to ask us for more money, not just take it. we need to see the city doing everything it can to reduce cost before they ask for a tax increase. me thinks some of our leaders are completely out of touch with the average folks not to mention the working poor. also, as stated before if the city needs more money expanding the tax base is an option. stop fighting the new walmart and just build it.

terrapin2 8 years, 2 months ago

You people are pathetic. Do you want to see Lawrence run into the ground because our citizens don't want to pay enough taxes to maintain this wonderful city???

Do you think that with the rise of gas prices that our city's budget wouldn't be pinched? Everything we buy costs more money ever year, so how can the city maintain the same budget with falling revenue?

I love this town, and am glad I moved back here after having been gone for 9 years, but I'm growing sick & tired of all your whining and pathetic bitching over how the city commission runs this town. You all make it sound like you know all the answers to running a city. Well, you don't!

Lawrence is no longer a sleepy little college town, and never will be again. It has grown considerably, and will continue to grow. Now, the decision is whether we want it to grow into a better community, or spiral down into an abyss with broken down infrastructure.

I'm not saying that I agree with Hack's tax plan, but something has to be done to meet the budget shortfalls. And cutting pool hours, or library hours, or whatever else serves the public first-hand, should not be where they look to save a few dollars.

MeeMa8 8 years, 2 months ago

I am not in favor of any tax increases, but at least the sales tax has to be voted on by the people. property tax increases are voted on by the commission. I would rather see a sales tax increase than a property tax increase. At least then everyone who comes to Lawrence, i.e. 25,000 college students, can share in the expense. But spend it on streets and other needed repairs. If it includes a new library and/or recreation, I will vote NO! But keep in mind, if the sales tax increase in defeated, you can bet property taxes will go up. Just another way the citizens of Lawrence are being manipulated.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

NO to Hack's Tax. And no to Amyx' tax as long as Hack is on the commission, because she is not going to let up on the library and PLAY deal.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Sorry to say it, but it needs to be said: We told you so. This new city commission has an agenda, and it is not for the benefit of you, the taxpayer. Developers and realtors are very, very happy with the way things are going.

sourpuss 8 years, 2 months ago

Why should we keep dumping taxes on the poor? So you want to cut property taxes from people who can obviously afford to buy property, so they are at least that well off, and shift it to food and blanket purchases, eh? Real nice guys, especially since the property owners are more likely to own the big SUV that is tearing up the streets you'll tax the bus riders to fix!! Horrible, horrible!!

craigers 8 years, 2 months ago

As others have reminded us all on other forums about the sales tax increase, it is a 1/2 percent increase. 1/2 a cent on every dollar. I like how they think if they phrase it with 1/2 cent we will all act like half a cent isn't bad and just vote for it. It looks like they had a hard time balancing the budget and decided to increase taxes...AGAIN. This is all the commission seems to do anymore. Let's get more tax revenue to build more crap. No more taxing unless I am promised to see a nice drop in property tax revenue. And the whole 10 year thing is dumb because by then nobody will remember and they will just vote to make it permanent.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

It seems suddenly that Lawrence is not so polarized, after all.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

And let's make it clear that this is not a 1/2 per cent tax increase. Adding half a cent to the sales tax means the sales tax grows by 6.5%.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Blackwalnut, I am not willing to pass judgment on Chestnut and Dever, yet. This tax increase is proposal is from the old, dead wood on the commission.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

If the sales tax is put to a vote, and defeated, and the commission responds with a property tax increase, you can be sure there will be a groundswell for a recall election.

lunacydetector 8 years, 2 months ago

i say a public vote is needed to raise the sales tax of everyone who supports raising the sales tax. how about a sales tax increase for haircuts only?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years, 2 months ago

It will be interesting if this does go to a vote. It's obvious nearly everyone here is against the tax increase, but would the town really be against it? I'm not sure that I'd bet on that.

I'm not sure how'd I'd vote... but if it's more like Amyx's proposal for road repairs I might vote yes. But if the money is earmarked for the projects that Hack wants I'm afraid I'd have to vote no.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

I will vote no, even if they say the money will be earmarked for infrastructure. Someone who thinks like a school teacher could later claim that "infrastructure" includes libraries and recreational facilities.

No new tax.

Stephen Prue 8 years, 2 months ago

let the people vote isn't that the american way?

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Anonymous user

Godot (Anonymous) says:

Blackwalnut, I am not willing to pass judgment on Chestnut and Dever, yet. This tax increase is proposal is from the old, dead wood on the commission.

Godot, how can you say this, when the commission first slashed everything important (library, threatened the pool, Bert Nash, the bus, the Humane Society) - then wants a new tax to pay for different things (new buildings, new infrastructure, all extravagant)?

There is an agenda at work here - four of the commissioners have a reverse Robin Hood philosophy and Hack is the most ethically compromised of all. They use a "projected budget shortfall" (that isn't even actually real yet) to cut things and fire people they want to cut and fire. Then they hike taxes to pay for stuff they and their sponsors want and will profit from. It's so transparent, I can't believe they have the cajones to do it. I guess most people are not paying attention, and they count on that. Unfortunately for the commission, some of us are paying attention and we're calling them on their b.s.

Hack really ought to step down as mayor. She cannot serve the city with the conflicts of interest she has with the developers and her husband's insurance business. Or she should recuse herself from every vote that is related to certain developers' projects, even indirectly, and that would include the sales tax she specifically wants to spend on new development (her assertion).

(I am not passing judgment on Chestnut and Dever yet, either, I'll give them a chance to prove my fears are not justified. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they'll moderate Hack and Amyx, which would be good.)

May Soo 8 years, 2 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says:

This lacks specifics as did the last proposal. How exactly will the money be spent? Thus far my vote is NO.

I guess they can always use the money to bid on the All-America City or other stupid ideas of theirs.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot (Anonymous) says: If the sales tax is put to a vote, and defeated, and the commission responds with a property tax increase, you can be sure there will be a groundswell for a recall election.

Is there a provision for such a thing in the city laws?

I'm with you - I would detest a property tax increase as much as a sales tax increase. I don't believe we need a new tax at all. We need better managers of the city's money. If those on the commission are not up to the job, we need better people on the job.

peppermint 8 years, 2 months ago

"Sales tax gains favor" yeah, right!

With whom? Every comment in here is firmly against. The article does not cite any poll or even quote any citizens. As for the commission, it looks to me like a compromise is under way, with Hack lowering the 1 cents to 1/2 cent. "Mayor lowering sales tax expectations" would be a more accurate headline.

I agree, the newspaper's headline is bogus and misleading and you have to wonder whether the paper is informing citizens or serving as the mayor's propaganda machine.

Sales tax not gaining any favor that I can tell.

SloMo 8 years, 2 months ago

Dear Terrapin,

Welcome back to Lawrence. I'm glad you like it here and are glad to be back. I love it here too.

And - I agree with you that Lawrence is not a sleepy little college town anymore.

That said, I believe it is entirely appropriate for all of us who love Lawrence to complain and gripe about the city commission! Why do we still have an "at large" commission instead of representation by districts?!! The root of the problem is that so many of us don't feel like our interests are being represented. We have petitioned and petioned for change, but to no avail because it is essentially the moneyed interests who are running the show - the developers and land speculators, mostly.

So gripe we will, long and loud.

peppermint 8 years, 2 months ago

erod0723 (Anonymous) says: I smell conspiracy. I am willing to bet that the city brought up 6% budget cuts across the board just so they could raise taxes.

Uh, yes. Glad you're paying attention.

peppermint 8 years, 2 months ago

lunacydetector (Anonymous) says: i say a public vote is needed to raise the sales tax of everyone who supports raising the sales tax. how about a sales tax increase for haircuts only?

Let's tax property insurance premiums! That would be a suitably regressive tax, and it means Alan Hack Insurance and his developer customers would generate their fair share of taxes. In light of all the business Hack gets from the developers his wife's mayoral agenda coincidentally (I'm sure it's coincidental) happens to benefit. That seems exceedingly fair to me.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Be very wary of the term "economic development." That is a code word for downtown redevelopment, including the expanded library, and, according to the arguments put forth by Treanor Architects, additional recreational facilities as proposed by PLAY.

Have they told us, yet, how they are going to pay for the purchase, clean up and development of the Farmland property?

peppermint 8 years, 2 months ago

Pay attention, everyone. The Journal-World will soon delete my 9:21 a.m. post. You can't say anything true in this blog if the mayor doesn't like it.

Janet Lowther 8 years, 2 months ago

How does being robbed on every transaction make it better than being robbed of a similar total annually?

If this passes, I'll be doing most of my shopping in Topeka, as, I expect, will a lot of commuters.

peppermint 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot (Anonymous) says: Be very wary of the term "economic development."

Doesn't Sue work for the Chamber of Commerce? What's going on here, really?

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

"Sales tax gains favor among commissioners" Well, I'll be darned. The LJW actually changed a headline to make it fair and accurate.. Hell has officially frozen over.

Oracle_of_Rhode 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't know where to stand on this one.

But do I think we need to charge for collecting garbage -- about $1 per 5 lbs., for both residential and commercial pick up. Plus impose fines of $1,000 for those who dump trash or put excessive rash in public cans.

That would bring a lot of money to the city and encourage people to recycle, reuse compost and shop for things with less packaging. It would mean people and companies who waste more will pay more. And it will prepare our city for a future in which we need to operate in a sustainable way.

Anyway, in Europe this has been a big success. We could use a better way than the wasteful model we have now.

Also, parking downtown is awfully cheap, and there are never spaces, so you could boost that and encourage biking and walking. I could also see higher rates on water use.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Good job, Journal-World. Changed the headline slightly to make it more meaningful. Actually the sales tax gained favor when Sue Hack lowered it to 1/2 cent, which is more like "sales tax compromise evolving among commissioners" but I won't quibble because I'm shocked that the Journal-World did this responsible thing.

Thank you.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

I am especially pleased to see the Journal-World changed the headline in the print edition that tens of thousands see, too.

I had to call my friend to ask about this, since I let my subscription to this biased newspaper lapse.

Oracle_of_Rhode 8 years, 2 months ago

Stain,

Thanks for the reply, and the correction. I like your one barrel per family idea!

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Take a good look at the "water" bill; the largest portion is for sewer, followed by trash, then water. And the more water you use, the more they charge for sewer. We already have a huge dis-incentive to over use water.

Which brings me back to tax increase. How much is the sewer charge going to increase? Isn't it some huge 8 or 9 per cent?

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Never mind, I did not see max1's post before I posted. thank you max1.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot says, And the more water you use, the more they charge for sewer. We already have a huge dis-incentive to over use water.

Yes and no. My understanding is that they calculate your charge for sewer based on your water usage for a single month in the winter. So if you just conserve water in December (I think it is December) you'll reduce your sewer fee, and you can use more water the other months without raising your sewer fee. I know one family whose sewer rates went sky high because they had relatives staying with them over the holidays.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Wow. Two of the top 10 users of water, KU and Eagle Bend, do not have to pay property taxes, and Eagle Bend does not even pay for its water! Does the city include the cost of the loss of revenue for sewer and water charges in its calculation of the total cost to the taxpayers to keep Eagle Bend open?

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for that tip, Blackwalnut. Unfortunately, I usually have guests for about 10 days in December, so I won't be conserving water that month.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot, My friends challenged that sewer rate, I think they were successful. Maybe you can also. It does seem like the wrong month to pinpoint a family's usage, February would be a better one.

Bubbles 8 years, 2 months ago

Quit spending money trying to shut down Naughty but Nice.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

hawkperchedontheriverfront says "I thought this commission was going to cut the budget and live with what they get instead of dreaming up more ways to get money."

I won't say it...

Some of us have lived longer and are more cynical. That's what experience does for a person.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

Starve needed city services. Then raise taxes and use the new taxes to pay for projects that let developers and realtors profit. What a plan! Did Karl Rove advise these people recently?

Did any of the recently elected and re-elected commissioners campaign on these promises? Promise to hurt the library, the bus, social services... and raise taxes for fancy new development projects?

Some of us who were paying attention are not surprised by this. Others are regretting their votes, I'm willing to bet.

Mayor Hack is not surprising me one bit.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

Thanks, blackwalnut, I will do that.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

I would like to hear what Boog has to say on this issue. He is the only commissioner I still have a speck of respect for.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

toefungus says... "I propose a new tax on smugness. A progressive tax that rises with the smugness of the person."

I would rather see a tax on stupidity. Maybe that's what we're getting: higher taxes for those stupid enough to vote in this new commission.

Unfair, because the rest of us who voted more wisely are going to get screwed too. Democracy has its pitfalls, it only works as well as the citizens inform themselves and as well as the media does its job in that regard. Corruption in government exists only because people are too stupid, lazy or uninformed to rout it out. That goes for our own little city government as well.

perkins 8 years, 2 months ago

Well, I guess it will get more of us to the polls. I prefer responsible pruning on the spending side of the ledger. Sigmund and other posters have given examples of wasted spending. Oops-the city manager will cry that we bloggers are being ugly and divisive again.

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

Stop all but basic infrastructure projects and eliminate the empTy (keep the services for the disable). Cut ALL other spending (excepting fire and police) till the budget is balanced. This is what we elected you to do!

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Sigmund (Anonymous) says: Stop all but basic infrastructure projects and eliminate the empTy (keep the services for the disable). Cut ALL other spending (excepting fire and police) till the budget is balanced. This is what we elected you to do!

They will cut everything that benefits many citizens, then raise taxes anyway to pay for huge luxuries that make profits for developers - like a $30 mill library and a multimillion dollar ice rink that the average Lawrence kid will never get to use. Take services away from the majority of citizens, and tax and fund profit-making projects for developers. This is the plan and it is becoming more clear to more and more citizens, every day.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

hawkperchedontheriverfront says need someone to stand downtown near the barber shop:and maybe outside sue hacks husband's insurance agency:maybe Al would like to charge a sales tax on insurance premiums:hello?

Since Alan Hack's insurance company gets a lot of insurance business from the exact same landowners-developers who stand to profit from Mayor Hack's development projects that she is pushing, like the 6th/Wakarusa Wal-Mart and the $30 million library and the ice rink, you'll never see anything like this.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

"Hack really ought to step down as mayor. She cannot serve the city with the conflicts of interest she has with the developers and her husband's insurance business. Or she should recuse herself from every vote that is related to certain developers' projects, even indirectly, and that would include the sales tax she specifically wants to spend on new development (her assertion)."

Good idea, that.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

terrapin2 (Anonymous) says: (calls us all pathetic and so on...) I'm not saying that I agree with Hack's tax plan, but something has to be done to meet the budget shortfalls. And cutting pool hours, or library hours, or whatever else serves the public first-hand, should not be where they look to save a few dollars.

You don't understand. Being away for 9 years, you probably weren't able to follow these issues closely. Please let me fill you in.

They already did or they plan to cut all those precious things you mention. They are not proposing a tax so that we can get those precious things back. They are proposing a tax so Mayor Hack can afford some fancy new projects like a $30 million library, a multimillion dollar ice hocky rink, infrastructure for more new development... a bunch of things that will deliver profits to landowners and developers who, it so happens, give business to her husband who owns an insurance business.

Do you get it now?

The tax is not to preserve the wonderful Lawrence you left 9 years ago. It is to turn Lawrence into something else altogether - on your dime and mine.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 2 months ago

9% sales tax, new library, new Wal-Mart, no bus system. Awesome. Doesn't cutting property taxes rather than just pledging not to raise them seem unwise in what is being projected as a budget crisis? It seems illogical to compensate for low tax revenues by charging more from everyone who buys food and necessities, while helping those who literally own a piece of the city. Renters compensate their landlords for property tax increases, and rent always goes up but isn't likely to go down if property taxes decrease. The poorest residents always pay the most for everything--how about raising sales tax, holding property tax, and lowering sales tax on food?

Tax would be 8.5% where I work. Our commuting customers will certainly consider stopping somewhere else along their commute. This is as logical as cutting the bus system, which will severely cut its ridership.

I think I am already giving up on this commission doing anything for the good of the community rather than for some wealthy portion of it. Cynical may be an understatement.

I see a lot of complaints from that old anti-progressive crowd here. Could some of you be disappointed with the new regime and the newfound power that Hack and Amyx have in the absence of Rundle and Schauner? (I don't mean that to sound nasty, I know that is the norm in comments; I am honestly curious if anyone has changed their mind in light of recent commission activity.) Personally, I miss them terribly! I always felt that Mike and David made their decisions with a heavy conscience for all of Lawrence -- property owners, the rest of the population, the future of the city, and they always welcomed and took to heart any and all public comment on an issue, honestly trying to reflect the views of the community.

I hope we at least have a chance to vote on this issue, since Sue is trying to do away with excessive public comment, and public attendance, for that matter.

I suppose that when money talks and residency walks, we can't expect to get terribly far from that good ol' system of granting voting rights only to white male property owners while taxing everyone.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

emilyhadley says... "...Sue is trying to do away with excessive public comment, and public attendance, for that matter."

Sue has much that I think she would like to hide, like her benefiting financially, if indirectly, from some of these matters. I think her husband doing business with these developers should disqualify her from voting on any related matter.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

Amyx probably wants to reduce property taxes because it would benefit the same landowners (developers) that 4 out of 5 commissioners seem to support over the interests of the people of Lawrence. The developers whose large campaign contributions helped put the 2 new commissioners in office. Just a wild guess.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

karensisson (Anonymous) says: Amyx probably wants to reduce property taxes because it would benefit the same landowners (developers) that 4 out of 5 commissioners seem to support over the interests of the people of Lawrence. The developers whose large campaign contributions helped put the 2 new commissioners in office. Just a wild guess.


Developers and realtors put these two in office. Every "for sale" property, every rental property, every strip of land not owned by a resident seemed to have 17 Dever/Chestnut/Bush signs. And they rallied their profit-sensing base and got out the vote.

The uneven turnout made for a legal election, but that is hardly the same as a mandate. Now these commissioners are ruling as if they had a mandate.

Who would that remind us of? Do we want that kind of government here in our little River City?

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

"The uneven turnout made for a legal election, but that is hardly the same as a mandate. Now these commissioners are ruling as if they had a mandate."

I don't believe that the agenda of this new city commission reflects the wishes or interests of the majority of people in Lawrence. I don't think nonvoters knew what was at stake, and I think many voters thought they voted for more and better jobs - not the job-cutting and job-displacing strategy the new commission has unveiled in the short time they've been in charge.

I don't believe the commission has a mandate, in any case.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

"Developers and realtors put these two in office. Every "for sale" property, every rental property, every strip of land not owned by a resident seemed to have 17 Dever/Chestnut/Bush signs. And they rallied their profit-sensing base and got out the vote."

Not only that, but a young person I knew said they felt they could not put out Boog Schauner Moody signs outside their apartments or even in their windows because the owner of the apartment complex had the other candidates' signs posted everywhere and their landlord would have it in for them if they showed competing signs. I'll bet a lot of this went on.

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

The empTy doesn't benefit many citizens, if it did we wouldn't have to subsidize each ride by $3.30 ($1,400,000 each year) while the occasional rider pays 50 cents. Walmart is a private project, not a City project, and based on the increase in property value alone the increase in real estate tax would be substantial year-after-year. By contrast, the estimated $853,333 from the Sue-N-Mike sales tax increase probably won't cover the legal bill defending the Walmart lawsuit.

Increasing Lawrence's debt for a $30 million downtown library isn't a best seller and the ice skating rink (wait for it) is on thin ice considering the interest rate we had to pay for recent Water and Sewer expansion. Without buying private bond insurance to protect investors from default, Lawrence's credit rating is far from stellar. I figure somewhere between the Merc and our ex-Mayor and ex-Kommissioner grocery clerk.

Financial mismanagement and the radical agenda of the past Kommissions (three of the five still remain, BTW) has left Lawrence a basket case economy surrounded by communities who are doing a much better job. The Bond Market knows it, Lawrence taxpayers know it, the only ones who don't know it sit on the City Commission and they are the only ones in a position to do something about it.

We need meaningful cuts in non-discretionary spending and to encourage growth in private sector. The only thing that is growing in this town are taxes and the size and role of government. That must come to an end if we are going to get our economic house in order. Better to do it voluntarily than be forced by the financial markets to do it later.

This Commission has made some small strides but the road ahead is full of the potholes and roundabouts of Kommissions past representing wasted opportunities as well as millions of wasted dollars. Boog's, Sue's and Mike's seats come up next election. I wonder if another two or three will have to go before the The Lawrence City Commission finally gets the message.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

"all the food establishments on 23..won't have to worry about Molly McGee's it is already finished off" This is off topic, but Molly McGees shut down because of healt code violations. It was cheaper for them to sell it than to make the necessary improvements. I went in there just last week for a bite to eat, and their exhaust fans were broken down..

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

Oh, and I could care less what the KU students want. Most aren't permanent residents and in four years will be gone and never have to pay another dime for the empTy, a downtown library, or ice skating rink, let alone sewer lines, water lines, or roads.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

"Hi, my name is BOOg , and well, nice to meet all of you. please leave your comments behind the bong."

I'd trust my city to a peace loving stoner before I ever trust Corliss, Amyx, or Hack. I really wish Boog would step up to the plate and denounce Hack for what she is: a pawn of rich developers.

WWoftheW 8 years, 2 months ago

I still say it should be called the Hack and Slash and Tax Commission.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

erod0723: Amen. But perhaps that is our job. We still have free speech, as long as we tell only the truth - I think.

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

Stain, surrounding communities did much better during the same time frame as Lawrence's downturn. The most significant difference is the policies and mismanagement of the City resources. Three of those five Kommissioners responsible for this under performance compared to peers remain. Their proposed solutions appear to be more of the same, Kommission Lite (more calories with less taste). The recent cuts in the past may be cover for a tax increase, if so nobody is buying it. But at least the cosmetic cuts are a step in the right direction before we begin major surgery of lopping of the fat.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

Sigmund,

The lopping of fat, so far, seems only to be for the purpose of making room to add different fat for different interested parties. At least the old fat benefited the citizenry as a whole, while the new even fatter fat will benefit a few fat developers in Sue Hack's husband's customer base.

WWoftheW 8 years, 2 months ago

This whole thing is to scare the community into supporting a tax increase so Hack can have the community pay for Bonnie to P.L.A.Y. Why is the city still paying developers to develop like $200,000 so Mercato can have a road, and the community is losing service?

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

EmJones, I have reviewed all 132 of your posts and not a single one, not one, has a single link to any support for any of your assertions. In contrast, my first post had links to the City-O-Lawrence financials and current City-O-Lawrence municipal bond pricing. Perhaps you would be better served and have more informed opinions if you did some original research to support your positions. If you believe that Lawrence is doing just as well, or better than, Eudora, Topeka, or Olathe, for instance, I challenge YOU to find and link "Stats & source." Boy will I be embarrassed and I will give you your props!

Governments (federal, local, state) keep some numbers. But by far the most reliable analysis of city finances are kept by the private sector, municipal bond insurers, brokerage houses, and credit rating services. Why? Investors are greedy and want to get the most for their money with as little risk as possible. Capitalist, what are you going to do?

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 2 months ago

PapaB wrote "Lets just ignore that towns in western kansas give homeless people a bus ticket to Lawrence, saying 'They'll take care of you there.'"

I didn't know this happened. Which towns do this? Where did you learn this? Wow--this puts a new perspective on things...unless, of course, it's just an urban legend.

PapaB 8 years, 2 months ago

Wilbur, Salina does. Did I see someone hand a homeless a bus ticket to Lawrence, NO, but how far fetched is it to see that our homeless population has it pretty nice here and other communities take note.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 2 months ago

Not everything that is "not far-fetched" is real.

nlf78 8 years, 2 months ago

What would we, as citizens, have to do to bring our VALID concern in front of the city commissioner's regarding Hack's husband and the worry of her "impartial" decisions?

PapaB 8 years, 2 months ago

Wilbur,

"Not everything that is "not far-fetched" is real."

A friend who works in a law firm in Western KS told me. I imagine it was part of a case they were working on.

I'm guessing you still won't believe me. That's OK, I still believe Lawrence does what it should in helping OUR homeless population.

Charles L Bloss Jr 8 years, 2 months ago

It doesn't scare me to agree with Marion, and I do! We don't live in Lawrence, but we shop there. So every bit of this affects us adversely. It makes me sick to have to subsidize Lawrence just for the privilege of buying things there, anyway. I think these commissioners are doing the same thing the Topeka city council is doing. They are threatening to lay off firefighters and police officers due to their "budget crisis". Anyone with any sense knows public safety is the last thing you start messing with, they are already overworked and undermanned. Of course now that we can carry guns in our cars, that may help some. I won't shop anywhere that has a no gun sign. If everyone would do that it would have a beneficial effect, but I wouldn't expect any help like that in Lawrence. Thank you, Lynn

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes I was a bit touchy, just annoyed when someone who never cites "Stats & Sources" suddenly suggest one of mine be sourced. Max1 actually looked, read, and referenced articles of sectors in specific communities that are under performing relatively to their previous years. Props.

My point was meant to be taken for the economy as a whole, reflected in how much the residents in the town are spending on local retail, and their retail sales taxes revenues the focus of this article. I know of no other community in the surrounding area who during this same period faced declining retail sales tax revenues and are proposing increase sales taxes as a solution. If someone finds such information I'm quite sure they will post it!

Approximately 20% of Lawrence's revenues come from local sales taxes and declining retail sales reflects negatively on the general economic health of Lawrence and specifically on our ability to repay loans. Budget deficits require some action, either increased taxes revenues or reduce expenses. The negative impact of budget deficits impacts our ability to borrow money by requiring us to pay higher interest rates or having to buy private insurance for our bonds. I think we agree that this is money we would rather spend on services to citizens and not pay to investors or insurance companies. By contrast Olathe debt is rated by Moody's Investor Services: Aa2 and Standard and Poors: AA. they have to pay no premiums. http://www.olatheks.org/Egov/docs/06_budget/Introduction.pdf and pg 17, http://www.olatheks.org/Egov/docs/07_budget/OlatheFinalBook2007.pdf

Sorry for the hissyfit EmJ.

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

IF Topeka has a budget crisis, blame Topeka City Commission, DUH!

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

EmJones, Johnson County and Shawnee (Topeka). http://www.topeka.org/pdfs/06Revenue_Estimation.pdf

Honestly EmJ, if you looked first before opening your pie-hole you would look less stupid,

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

EmJ do you have Stats & Sources for that, or are you just passing wind?

Sigmund 8 years, 2 months ago

Max1, i had the same impression when first looked. I liked the Olathe layout better, summary and details for each department and a separate users guide. I liked Topeka's least. Lawrence was in the middle. Olathe apparently has a presentation for the average citizen explaining terms and layout. I think Lawrence should consider trying this as well. I think the basic layout must conform to General Accounting Practices in any case, with more or less well defined terms an categories.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

thanks, max1, for this: "The City receives revenue from two sources of sales tax: a City-wide sales tax of one percent, "

That means a 1/2 cent sales tax increase is a 50% increase for the city. The one cent would have doubled the revenue the city gets from sales tax. Unbelievable.

But it is just "a penny," right?

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

For a family who spends $1,000 a week on groceries, pharmacy, clothing, gasoline, restaurants, movies, cheap crap at Wal-Mart, and everything else... that's $10 a week or $520 a year.

Not to pay for Mayor Hack's agenda. Not for a $30 million library and a giant ice hockey rink most kids will never get to set foot on. Not after they cut the library, the bus, the humane society, and all the social services.

The tax is not for needed city services. They are cut those, or are threatening to. The tax is to make Mayor Hack's developer friends happy.

$520 a year for Mayor Hacks' friends' dreams?

No. I say no.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

Marion, Bravo on the The Tax Poem. It made my hungover morning at work at little more bearable than usual.

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

$1,000 is a nice round figure. A family of six can easily spend that. All it takes is that both parents work therefore spend more on prepared food and other conveniences than they would otherwise, teenagers are involved, commutes take a lot of vehicle fuel, and the family has a couple of really expensive prescriptions.

Pharmacy and food should never be taxed in any city - just my opinion. That really creates hardships for people living close to the bone, and makes the tax even more regressive than it would be otherwise.

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

hawk: I never said $1,000 was average. I'm sure it's not average. I have no access to what is average. I wonder if the City Commission knows what the average retail spending per household or per capita is in Lawrence. That would be a really hard figure to pin down.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

I think coneflower's point was that people should figure out what this sales tax will really cost them personally, then decide. Most people know approximately what their retail spending is every week. Multiply that times .01, then times 52 weeks and suddenly the penny doesn't sound so trivial - it's significant.

Legend 8 years, 2 months ago

FYI...

Spent another $100 on gas, $150 on food and $50 in entry fees playing a baseball tournament in KC this weekend. Multiply that by the 12 kids on our team and that is $3,600 sent out of town because of a lack of faciltities. (And, there are four other Lawrence teams playing in the same tournament. (So, that's about $15,000 in business leaving Lawrence this weekend alone.)

We'll do this four times this year. Add in one trip that requires two nights hotel stay and you can now add another $2,000 to the team total. So, our team will take approximately $17,000 in economic business out of Lawrence this summer because we lack in facilities.

Wouldn't it be nice to have this money coming into town instead of leaving town. I'm pretty sure the increase in my annual sales tax bill will be offset by the gas savings alone!!!

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

Earth to the City Commission:

We need more jobs in Lawrence. Not more places to spend money people don't have.

This city commission needs to focus on what we as a city need - not what the developers want.

P.S. $7 an hour jobs that displace other $7 an hour jobs is not what I mean.

P.P.S. Want to increase sales tax revenue? Let people earn more money to spend. Duh!

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

Legend: It would take a lot of spending to generate enough sales taxes to offset the cost of P.L.A.Y. Perhaps we'd get enough revenue to pay for the maintenance and operation of the thing - if we're lucky. No to the expense of constructing P.L.A.Y. on taxpayer dime. If it's such a great deal, some smart business group will invest in it.

I'm not supporting any sales tax increase to pay for P.L.A.Y. Only a very few would benefit from it.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

"I'm not supporting any sales tax increase to pay for P.L.A.Y. Only a very few would benefit from it." Yeah, our children. They don't need access to quality facilities. In fact, bring back the shoddy sandlots of years gone by.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

erod0723: I have children. Only a very few children will benefit. How much time do you think will be left, after KU and the groups get scheduled? This is a rich kid's facility for rich kids. Ordinary kids won't get a thing out of it, but their parents will have to pay the sales tax anyway.

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

Anonymous user

erod0723 (Anonymous) says: "I'm not supporting any sales tax increase to pay for P.L.A.Y. Only a very few would benefit from it." Yeah, our children. They don't need access to quality facilities. In fact, bring back the shoddy sandlots of years gone by.

That's what I meant. I should have said, "Only a very few children would benefit from it." The rich ones. This sort of thing, therefore, should not be financed with public money.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

A while back, I worked for the LPRD. You would be amazed how many people use the facilities on a daily basis. The gymnasiums are always full with kids playing freeplay basketball, or volleyball and basketball leagues, or aerobic classes, or private organizations renting out the facility. On a daily basis, we would have to kick out atleast 30 teens from the gym for aerobics classes. Where would these kids go? They would just leave and walk down the streets. The facilities are falling into disrepair and need updating and more space in order to keep kids off the streets.

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

erod0723: Fund LPRD then. Good luck, with the current city commission. No developer would profit bigtime from just maintaining and enhancing the LPRD. They can't even afford to keep the 11th Street gym clean enough so a person could stand to use the locker room.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

Stain, You are a genius. There's nothing in this world that a nice pair of hooters can't solve.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

That is seriously not a bad idea from a sales tax revenue standpoint. Hooter's would bring more new business to Lawrence than Wal-Mart.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

"Hooter's would bring more new business to Lawrence than Wal-Mart."

Don't they get those cut-off t shirts and short shorts at Wal-Mart?

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot:

Doubt it. Wal-Mart clothing sux.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

but, Blackwalnut, I thought Wal-Mart was known for skimping on material and taking short cuts.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

I shopped at Wal-mart today. Found only one thing the non-grocery part that I wanted, ($39 less than Pennys for the same item) but spent about $90 bucks for enough to feed 12 for tomorrow, and the two of us for the remainder of the week. The biggest bargains were in the produce section. Got some really nice looking peppers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli,celery, lettuce, onions and potatoes for way less than I would have paid at the "local" stores.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Godot,

Have you compared with Checkers? I haven't been in that Wal-Mart for three years, but I'm pretty sure Checkers produce will compete nicely with your Wal-Mart.

RKLOG 8 years, 2 months ago

I'll meet any commissioner by the tree after school if they try to raise sales tax.

erod0723 8 years, 2 months ago

"Have you compared with Checkers? I haven't been in that Wal-Mart for three years, but I'm pretty sure Checkers produce will compete nicely with your Wal-Mart."

Checkers also has really good prices on beer, for the alkie in you. Last time I went to Checkers, I got a case of miller lite for $8 (it was the 3.2% variety).

Mkh 8 years, 2 months ago

NO more Tax Increases!!!

Hack needs to get her budget under control. NO more Taxes.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

"Godot you're such a cheapskate."

I resemble that remark.

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

I like Checkers, too, and usually shop there because of the produce and meat selection.

I had to go to Home Depot yesterday and did not feel like adding another few miles to my trip just to get groceries so I went to Walmart. Doing so added a few hundred more steps to my pedometer, too, considering how far you have to walk just to go through all the aisles to get your stuff.

By the way, the meal was great today; we made waaayyy too much of everything except the carrot cake, and sent the leftovers home with the kids. Nice fathers' day.

Time for a nap.

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

You tell 'em, Marion.

No to a new tax. Any new tax. Especially one dreamed up by Sue.

Raiden 8 years, 2 months ago

I see a bumper sticker....Hack The Hack Tax or HTHT......or Mike and Sue are Gonna Screw You.....or new slogans....Come to Lawrence where you too can watch your quality of life circle the drain.....And watch out for meetings....Sue was overheard at a party saying that the City Commission meetings ought to be on Tuesday afternoons so the commission isn't overburdened having to listen to the public comments. Watch out.....it's a new stealth bomber and you thought the potholes were bad already!!!!!

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

Raiden says... Sue was overheard at a party saying that the City Commission meetings ought to be on Tuesday afternoons so the commission isn't overburdened having to listen to the public comments.

Wouldn't this be ilegal? Does not the law require that the meetings be open to the public and public comment accepted?

I'd love to see her try this. She may awaken more opposition than she really wants to deal with.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 2 months ago

nlf78 wondered "What would we, as citizens, have to do to bring our VALID concern in front of the city commissioner's [sic]...."

It is a burdensome and onerous thing one must do to: First, one must attend a Commission meeting. Then, when recognized by the Mayor during the Public Comment phase of the agenda, one is expected to address the entirety of the Commission (not a single Commissioner) and state one's concern concisely.

http://www.lawrenceks.org/meetinginfo.shtml

coneflower 8 years, 2 months ago

Raiden says: Sue was overheard at a party saying that the City Commission meetings ought to be on Tuesday afternoons so the commission isn't overburdened having to listen to the public comments.

WTF!!!

blackwalnut 8 years, 2 months ago

All who can be there Tuesday afternoon ought to picket the city building to publicize this attempt to obstruct legal citizen participation in the democratic process.

I'm going to believe Sue was joking until it is proven otherwise. I don't think she's that dumb.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 2 months ago

Nick

Danger's

in

the

house

. Still

getting

spanked

at

http://groups.google.com/group/news.admin.net-abuse.email/browse_thread/thread/aa081dd6c2407f6b/7c6df1aab996c7f7

Remember, Nick Danger says: "Homelss people are also good straw men for bank accouts but take them to a bank far away from the alley in which they live as they will soon foget where you have taken them and do not leave them with any banking info. You then extract the money from the account using an ATM card and the money is NOT traceable to you! Heh, heh. Did I say that?" http://ikillspammers.blogspot.com/2007_05_01_archive.html

Somebody who doesn't even live in Lawrence said" "People of Lawrence! The City of Lawrence is attempting to enact a burdensome levy on the Good Residents of this Fine City in the form of a one-half-cent sales tax increase(Which tax is ALWAYS rounded UP to full penny!)!"

"Fair Use"

Bubbles 8 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like the "Fair" tax to me.

Nobody is going to drive to Topeka for a six pack.

Whoop de do.

karensisson 8 years, 2 months ago

This tax would amount to several hundred dollars a year for every person. Yes, they always round the tax up. So it would be more than 1/2 cent. And it will be on top of the new tax the Douglas County people are getting ready to assess.

If you can't imagine writing out a check right now, and every year thereafter, say no to Hack's tax.

It's to fund new development anyway, to line the pockets of Sue's developer friends - not a worthwhile reason to soak the taxpayers.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 2 months ago

BTW, Marion's little copyright bit "Copyright Marion Lynn; Pretentious Cow Publications; First Right One-Time printing granted to LJWorld.com; ASCAP, 2007." is as meaningless and hollow as the rest of his threats because by posting here, he has agreed to the LJW policy that states: "Your posting of content and your thoughts on LJWorld.com automatically gives LJWorld.com a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, disseminate, perform, transmit and display such content (in whole or part) and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in such content..."

Why don't you post this on RCT?

.

Thanks

,

snap

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