Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2007

City’s budget outlook worsens

Property tax increase may be necessary to maintain current service levels

June 20, 2007

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Mayor Hack on property taxes

Hear Mayor Sue Hack discuss what impact a property tax increase may have on Lawrence citizens.

City Commissioners hesitant to spend more for pesticide-free park program

Commissioners heard from several neighborhood representatives who said the inspection program would help ensure that safe living conditions were available in all parts of the city. Enlarge video

The prospect of a 2008 tax rate increase for Lawrence residents became a bit more likely after city commissioners Tuesday learned additional details about the city's budget woes.

Commissioners were told that a preliminary analysis found it would take about a 1 mill increase in the city's property tax rate to maintain existing city services. Without it, they were told major cuts to the Lawrence Transit System would be needed, and that city employees would have to go without a raise for the second time in the last three years.

"None of us go into this process with a desire to raise taxes," Mayor Sue Hack said. "But I think some sort of reasonable mill increase would be a conservative approach to our budget problems."

Hack and Commissioner Boog Highberger said they were leaning toward a property tax increase if it could help prevent some of the painful budget cuts, such as eliminating Saturday service and cutting weekday hours for the T.

"If we want to make our transit system work like we want it to, we can't shoot it in the foot like that," Hack said. "It really could be more of a dagger in the heart."

But a tax increase is far from a done deal. Hack and Highberger's support would be two of the three votes needed to approve a tax increase. But a third vote didn't immediately emerge at Tuesday's budget study session.

Commissioner Mike Amyx said he did think it was important to maintain city services, but said he wanted to further explore a new sales tax rather than an increase in property taxes. New Commissioners Mike Dever and Rob Chestnut also stopped short of saying they supported a mill levy increase.

Dever said he still wanted to look for more efficiencies in the city budget. He also said he wanted to review T routes to see if there is a way to improve the system's efficiency without cutting its operating hours.

"I'm trying to challenge the city to look within for a solution," he said.

Highberger and Hack both said they were open to a mill levy increase, in part, because the city had reduced the mill levy over the last two years. Highberger, though, said he thought the need for future mill levy increases could be alleviated by implementing impact fees, a type of fee that would charge developers for new parks, roads and other infrastructure items.

"We can attribute some of our increases to being a growing city," Highberger said. "I think impact fees could help cover some of those growth costs. It is a discussion we really need to have."

Hack said that discussion would take place during the budget-making process, but she questioned whether impact fees were an equitable way to fund new infrastructure.

A new piece of information that commissioners heard Tuesday is that without a mill levy increase, the city likely would not be able to offer any raise for city employees.

Assistant City Manager Debbie Van Saun said with an approximately 1 mill increase the city likely would be able to offer a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in salaries for city employees. She also said the increase would alleviate the need for many of the proposed cuts to the T.

A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. For a $150,000 home, a 1 mill increase would amount to an increase of $17.25 for a year.

Van Saun stressed that the 1 mill increase is only an estimate. She said a specific recommended budget is expected to be presented to commissioners in early July.

Comments

Rightytighty 7 years, 10 months ago

Total bull honky! taxing is the answer for everything it seems like.

cowboy 7 years, 10 months ago

In all of the companies i have worked in if the financial results were bad you didn't get increased compensation , maybe fired but not not increased compensation , and this was not a valid reason to raise your prices !

inatux 7 years, 10 months ago

There wouldn't have been this mess if the mill levy hadn't been cut. But now, when the price of food, fuel and everything up has gone up and it's time for an increase, the people gripe.

You people are insane. Don't get me wrong, no body like a tax increase, but cutting services will only get you so far, and eventually will tick someone off because she expects more out of her tax dollars.

@Spywell Apparently you don't know how to run a business. Cutting costs is one way to free up money, but the other (and better, in my opinion) way to run a business is to get the income in. That's how you run a business - make some friggin' money.

Bill Chapman 7 years, 10 months ago

You don't raise money in a failing business (the city budget)by raising the prices (taxes)of your goods (city services)if consumers are not buying them, inatux! You either improve the product(city services - and not likely to be improved)) or cut costs(number of services/employees) and lower the price(taxes - and not likely in this case) of the product. The problem is, the mayor and the city commissioners made some promises to people and to avoid breaking them they want to raise taxes. Unfortunately those promises were not to the general public, they were to developers and commercial property owners.

Kookamooka 7 years, 10 months ago

In a College town where nearly half of our residents rent, and developers build more apartments than single family homes, the bulk of the property tax burden rests on just a portion of the people in our community. They float city services for everyone to enjoy. I wonder how much outstanding back property taxes are owed to the city by out of state landlords?

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

Marion says: I don't know which group is more dangerous; halfwits or rotters!

I would have to avoid the crooks, every single time. It's going to be a long four years.

Bubbles 7 years, 10 months ago

In the 60's Union Carbide took of the town of St. Albans, West Virginia because the City leaders were so incompetent. They ran the city like a business and got things turned around.

That will never happen these days though because there are so many happless, helpless duds that can't live a minute without their hands out.

One of these days there will not be enough hard working folk to take care of the duds.

monkeyhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

So, the city wants to hit less than half of the population to help pay city employees in the form of raises, and to avoid reducing services to the M-T? Then, the county wants to hit the same population for "undisclosed" projects? Seems that property owners have absolutely no recourse against increasing mills, so they are always the easiest target. Maybe they are the real "helpless", rather than the "heartless".

If there was a clear explanation as to where our tax dollars have gone, and where they are planned to go, some of us would not be opposed. It is very worrisome that our previous mayor and commissioner obviously had a hard time with balancing his own finances, so the trust issue is at the forefront. I guess we are supposed to have blind faith that we are getting the most out of every dollar we put in.

Instead of demanding the 6% budget cut, what is it down to now? Why can't the commission make a firm decision and stick with it? Only in the Enron world do people get raises while the ship is sinking.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Stop putting up new traffic monitoring devices and building new streets until the city can afford it.

Put a stop to any new development that involves taxpayer funds - NOW.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

At least this should put a stop to the ridiculous ideas of a new library, a new ice rink and sports center, and acquiring Farmland Industries. Are you listening, Mayor Hack?

sourpuss 7 years, 10 months ago

The people of Lawrence keep electing people who have no business being commissioners. Wake up and smell the stupid! None of these people offered smart, real suggestions about improving the city. People just geting sand in their undies about "growth" or "no growth," neither of which, by themselves, fix anything.

Recall them, kick them out. None of them deserve the office. I bet there are a lot of things that could be trimmed without just going for the transit jugular. They are -threatening- us with our bus system if we won't go along with their tax increase. Give us our 1% or we'll take your bus away! Are you going to stand for it, Lawrence? Get rid of them!

stuckinthemiddle 7 years, 10 months ago

I suppose that landlords include the cost of property taxes in the rents that they charge and if property taxes go up, rent goes up. So, renters actually do end up paying their share.

Bubbles 7 years, 10 months ago

Adopt the Liberals "Green" policies. Employees could use same lunch sack over and over again.

Increase bus routes by adding more buses. If a little is good, alot should be great!

Build more roundies. They are so efficient in managing cars that everyone should make more money.

Build gigantic library. Everyone will be so educated that everyone should be making more money.

Continue fight with Wal-Mart. Spend as much as possible to keep them out. That way mom and pop stores will spring up like weeds in our herbicide free parks.

common_cents 7 years, 10 months ago

I could have sworn the county is wanting to raise the mil levy as well. Can someone confirm this?

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Idiots want to put in a second Wal-Mart which will not bring in new tax dollars. What a wasted opportunity to make Lawrence a more interesting place to visit and shop. Forget the Wal-Crap. We already have one. Put in a Hooters, a Texas Roadhouse, a Cheesecake Factory, and a Johnny Carino's and a new chain store or two and the dollars will come in to Lawrence from all around. People go to Kansas City and Legends to eat at these kinds of restaurants all the time, and those restaurants are always busy.

These commissioners don't seem to have any ideas beyond cut services or raise taxes. How about finding ways to attract revenue into Lawrence?

common_cents 7 years, 10 months ago

From another article in today's paper:

"Agreed to spend $250,000 on sidewalk and traffic-calming projects this year."

Holy crap..... We have all the traffic calming projects we need... they are called POTHOLES.

toefungus 7 years, 10 months ago

Home values have gone up so much that taxes should have been going down each year. This hidden tax became so easy that government did not have to set priorities. Now that home values have peaked the gravy train suddenly stopped. Now the answer is more taxes. It is time for a property tax rebellion. Way over due.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

"Highberger, though, said he thought the need for future mill levy increases could be alleviated by implementing impact fees, a type of fee that would charge developers for new parks, roads and other infrastructure items."

Impact fees - yes, yes, thank you Boog, someone still thinks and acts on behalf of ALL the people who live in Lawrence.

Really regretting my vote for two of these commissioners, but glad that I did also vote for you.

Bubbles 7 years, 10 months ago

Use the "Hooter" principle in hiring city employees!

Everyone would be breaking down the doors trying to pay taxes.

white_mountain 7 years, 10 months ago

We should try to pass a law to force high-paying employers and interesting business establishments to re-locate to Lawrence. They probably couldn't think of a single good reason not to. The only exception to the law would be Wal-Mart, because we don't want them here.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

white_mountain (Anonymous) says: We should try to pass a law to force high-paying employers and interesting business establishments to re-locate to Lawrence.

No, but we could invite them here, and encourage developers to consider the impact on Lawrence of new businesses they bring here. When that real estate developer got the city commission to scrap the law that a retail impact study had to be made before adding a significant new block of retail, our town was hurt.

Rumor has it that the landowner at 6th/Wakarusa has a personal relationship with a Wal-Mart heir, with a former romance and godparents and godchildren and all. Just a rumor, I have no idea if it's true. Ya can only imagine what is being done under the table between the landowner and Wal-Mart. I'm sure no other business can compete to give the landowner a deal better than Wal-Mart is giving him.

beebo 7 years, 10 months ago

Bubbles - tried to email you - my grandfather was one of the Carbide employees ON that St. Albans city council during the 50's that turned the town around.....how did you know about that obsure bit of history?

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Who owns the Tanger Mall? A Hooters over there would bring people from all over Kansas. They could even break down and allow a great big sign on the highway. Put a Victoria's Secret over there, too.

blackwalnut 7 years, 10 months ago

I can solve this. It's stupid simple.

  1. Impact fees paid for by developers. After all, they profit handsomely from the development.

  2. Build new restaurants and stores that will attract sales to Lawrence from outlying areas, and keep Lawrencians from going to Kansas City to spend money at these places. Don't stick the restaurants on South Iowa, nobody likes going over there to relax.

That will be $25,000 commissioners.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

KU should have bought its new old buses from Lawrence instead of from Sacramento.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

If you got rid of the T, I wonder how much the city would lose in sales tax because of all the people who would stay home rather than travel to shop.

A lot of teenage kids ride the T, go downtown or to South Iowa or Clinton Parkway, spend their money. My neighbor's kids are always taking the bus to go hang out downtown in coffee shops etc. I know they spend a lot of money down there. I see people being dropped off or getting on at grocery stores.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Godot: Were buses available for purchase in Lawrence?

pelliott 7 years, 10 months ago

Boy Hack is pantiing for a way for the poor and middle class to pick up the tab for the developers to continue over building. Sales tax hits the groceries and necessities, mill levies were only lowered because the increased assessments were raised so high and fast that it took your breath away (no it took the cash). Now they raise the mill back. I agree that a second walmart would not bring people from Topeka and Johnson County here, the sales tax generated might be drawn from the other walmart , or target, Kohl because then you didn't need to drive down Iowa. I don't mind another Walmart if they could find the land that was zoned for it. A lot of professional and a lot of community people spent a decade in helping develop a plan for Lawrence, one company spending money to get around that plan should not do the trick.

We can trim a lot of places, some of the department heads are not good managers. WE need an assessment of services, The departments haven't felt the pinch, they have cut the workers salaries and the raises. it looks like they cut the budget but they did it off the workers paychecks. We will lose the best workers and end up with the people that can't work the private sector. First Buford, then Wildgen, no one has cut the fat in a long time. There should be a citizens advisory board that works with an assessor, people with modern business knowledge or practical experiance, also someone who knows this community. We need to assess current practices and procedures, cut the old fart ways and get down to fighting weight. experiance and a sharp pencil.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

"f you got rid of the T, I wonder how much the city would lose in sales tax because of all the people who would stay home rather than travel to shop."

If those kids did not have the taxpayer subsidized free ride down town, they would find a way.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Stain, I was implying that all of the T buses should be sold, and where better than locally? However, I did read that the city is selling surplus buses through some internet outlet.

Sigmund 7 years, 10 months ago

The new Wal-Mart WILL bring in new property tax dollars and probably additional sales tax dollars. Over the last several years Topeka and Olathe both had increases in retail sales tax, only Lawrence declined. Then add the tax dollars are being wasted on the lawyer fees (being spent in Johnson County as well) and this single decision by the PLC Kommissioners has cost Lawrence taxpayers hundreds of thousand of dollars per year. http://www.topeka.org/pdfs/06Revenue_Estimation.pdf http://www.olatheks.org/Egov/docs/06_budget/Introduction.pdf

peppermint 7 years, 10 months ago

Godot, As the parent of several teenagers who spend a great deal of their free time downtown, no my kids would not find a way - not even half as much of the time. My junior high schooler and his entire crowd of girls and boys meet each other downtown all the time. All the parents work, and can't drive them around all day, and none of the kids have cars yet. Personally I'm grateful they are on the bus and there aren't a bunch of 15 year old novice drivers on the road. I'm grateful they aren't in the car of an older kid - even a stranger - just to get a ride. And they spend their allowance and money they earn in restaurants and shops and the movies. A few teengers get to part-time jobs on the T. I know my kids aren't the only ones; when I ride the T I see kids getting on and off with soccer balls and tennis rackets and swimming pool gear and skateboards. The T allows teenagers to participate in all Lawrence has to offer, instead of being latchkey kids. Do we really want to make it so that only teenagers rich enough and old enough to have a car can get around to spend their money and participate in the community?

I'm very grateful the T provides a way for teenagers to get around, and I would pay more in fares to keep it. I wish the T could have a system where if you dropped extra money in the till it would be certain to go to help fund the T. My kids could pay more. I don't want the fares increased too much because then people for whom every penny counts, and for whom the T is the only way they can get around, would be hurt. I don't want taxes increased to support the T because I think the city is spending money in the wrong places; they should reorder their priorities and put on hold their big dreams for developers, and developers should pay impact fees.

I do think the Friends of the T suggestion in a previous letter to the editor is a good one. I would give money to keep the T, if it could prevent raising taxes or cutting hours. The T really needs to run until 10 p.m. to be fully useful. I really believe the T helps people get around and spend more money in Lawrence businesses.

peppermint 7 years, 10 months ago

Sigmund says.. Then add the tax dollars are being wasted on the lawyer fees (being spent in Johnson County as well) and this single decision by the PLC Kommissioners has cost Lawrence taxpayers hundreds of thousand of dollars per year.

The expense of the lawsuit is the fault of the landowners/developers at 6th and Wakarusa who brought the lawsuit against the city. The city did not bring the lawsuit. The city only defended itself.

WWoftheW 7 years, 10 months ago

No rumor. Doug Compton is godfather to Wal-Mart grandkids.

chemegirlie 7 years, 10 months ago

Someone asked if the property taxes went up, was rent raised? I have actually had leases that state if the property taxes go up, my rent would automatically be raised the same percentage, even in the middle of a lease term.

Sigmund 7 years, 10 months ago

Conservation of resources applies not only to petro chemicals but another scarce but needed resource, taxpayer dollars. If you waste tax dollars buying petro-chemicals to run EmpTy buses you are not conserving either. Requiring the City and MV Transportation to design a system that meets actual needs based on what people are willing to pay means that the system would come very close to break even and only use those resources that are actually needed. Never ending subsidies with no accountability just encourages the waste of both diesel fuel and taxpayer dollars.

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. When goods or services are provided too cheap, people waste them. Today, if you subsidized gas so people only paid $1.00/gallon then people will buy SUV's that get 5 miles/gallon, but if gas was priced at $10.00/per gallon and that would stop, it is conserved or "economized." What makes anyone believe that bus rides are any different?

Requiring that public transportation to break even is the only way we can be sure that the service is needed and that the service isn't so cheap it is being wasted. It helps the City "right size" the system so we provide and pay for very close to what is actually needed.

I am for 100% free public transportation of the disabled. In fact, that is what a large amount of the Federal funds were meant for. Taking "federal pork" that was meant to benefit the disabled and throwing it down down the rat whole that is the EmpTy isn't progressive or compassionate. It's idiotic and wasteful not to mention immoral.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years, 10 months ago

chemegirlie It was me... and I'm not surprised... If you think about it it's only smart business on the part of the landlord.

peppermint 7 years, 10 months ago

Sigmund: The T does not waste more petro-chemicals than it saves over every rider driving their own car. The T provides nearly half a million rides in a year. Imagine that many more cars on the roads.

Plus, diesel fuel is easier on the environment than gasoline.

Sigmund 7 years, 10 months ago

The new Wal-Mart store can offer goods to the citizens of Lawrence for the lowest possible prices because they are the most efficient. Wal-Mart, being the largest grocer in the world, will force Les Merc, Dillon's, HyVee and every other grocer to become more efficient and lower their prices just to stay in business. Not only will Wal-Mart shoppers be saving money, but so will every other person in Lawrence who buys groceries!

Wal-Mart will then pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes that we can use to pay $1,400,000 in corporate welfare to MV Transportation to remain inefficient and run empty buses mile-after-mile, day-after-day, burning gallon-after-gallon diesel fuel. Isn't capitalism wonderful? It provides lower costs of groceries to all of Lawrence and pays real estate taxes to the City of Lawrence so merrill can then waste the money polluting our air!

Eileen Emmi Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Sigmund said Requiring that public transportation to break even is the only way we can be sure that the service is needed and that the service isn't so cheap it is being wasted.

Public transportation never breaks even, anywhere!

The most successful public transportation systems of all, like in New York City and Chicago, get around half their operating expenses from fares.

Public transportation is one of those things government does for all its citizens, like education and roads and police and fire protection. It's not meant to be a business. It's a service.

I guess the concept of a service for the community is kind of quaint in today's culture of selfishness. Nobody has a sense of community anymore, of how something that benefits a subset of the population also indirectly benefits us all. It's all "I don't ride the bus, so screw the people who do."

WWoftheW 7 years, 10 months ago

Half of West Lawrence, west of Wakarusa, took over 15 years to build. The other half took 3 years and is vacant. Who do you suppose paid for all the infrastructure? We did not the developer. Growth does not pay for itself. And don't quote the developer paid report that says it does. If the developers paid for the report, of course it would say growth pays for itself. Consequences speaks louder than reports. Look at the state the city is in becuase the developer run commissions of now and over 4 years ago and back only took care of their buddies and not Lawrence. Where has all the money gone? Sales tax crisis becuase the developer wanted to convince everyone that we needed more commercial and housing stock. Bad streets and sidewalks all over town becuase we were to busy PAYing for developers to build and no money left for what Lawrence needed. City services cut while the hack and slash commission still pushes P.L.A.Y. Parks that are drainage ditches, becuase the developer couldn't make money off it, so he got is developer city commission to pay him for it. All the while we are building Lawrence has been crumbling. If growth paid for itself, why wasn't the needs of Lawrence taken care at the same time?

Eileen Emmi Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

none2: Biking is great, but there is weather in Kansas that precludes it a great deal of the time. Lawrence has become a sprawled-out city. It's 6 miles between downtown and the Free State High pool, and another 6 miles to the theaters on South Iowa. Some kids have to travel 6 miles or more to their high school. Yes they need buses, because 1,000 parents shouldn't be driving cars to spare their kids a 2-hour walk to school in the morning.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

The same people who scream about the money the T costs are happy to give developers a free ride to continue to overbuild Lawrence.

Impact fees. They are fair and necessary. The taxpayers of Lawrence deserve for the developers who profit off development to bear the cost of it.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

none2 (Anonymous) says: I think it is so sad that all these teens have to be bused around town or drive a car. Whatever happened to walking, biking, running?

First, there is weather. Second, there is the distance they have to travel which might be considerable because of the way Lawrence has developed into sprawl. Third, they DO ride their bikes and walk. Do you think the T comes to their door? Kids have to walk quite a ways to the bus stops sometimes, and you see lots of people loading their bicycles onto the front of the bus before they get on. The T's coverage of our city is not nearly good enough to achieve the lazy behavior you describe - for anyone. If I ride the T it's a mile and a half walk to the stop at one end and a mile at the other end. I'm not complaining about that - but get real, our town is really spread out now, especially with the theater and stores being on South Iowa. Do you want to ride your bike down South Iowa? Would you want a child to do it?

sourpuss 7 years, 10 months ago

If you don't like paying for a public transit system you don't use, then take advantage of it and use it. There. Problem solved. And I don't think people are riding it for "Free" as someone suggested. You pay fare.

People who hate public transportation clearly never had to rely on it.

As for biking around Lawrence, I did it as a kid, but as an East Lawrencian, I couldn't get out to the S. Iowa movie theaters or stores. Just too far to bike and way too far to walk. I went to Central Jr. High, which I could walk or bike to, though I lived about a mile away. Wasn't a big deal though. However, you can't just tell kids to get on a bike. Do you really want your 12 year old biking from Wakarusa to downtown to meet friends for coffee? That is a LONG ride, and dangerous due to cars. I would much rather my kid be on a bus, safe and supervised.

Public transit is here to stay. No, it doesn't support itself, but it keeps your air cleaner and it keeps other cars out of your way. Get over it already.

perkins 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey commissioners - Haven't you heard that Lawrence is already too expensive? Increased valuation has meant higher taxes even with the mill levy decrease. Cut costs. Be financially prudent rather than spendthrifty. And raise the expectations of your city manager. The fact that this budget crunch came so suddenly and that you were discussing a $30 million new library a few months ago shows that he is not advising you well.

WWoftheW 7 years, 10 months ago

We need the T so everyone can get from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart.

WWoftheW 7 years, 10 months ago

We need to understand that the cities portion of property taxes is very small compared the schoold district and county's portion.

gccs14r 7 years, 10 months ago

If the sales tax goes up again, more shopping dollars will flee to Shawnee and Johnson counties and to online purchases. If the mill levy goes up again, more properties will go on the market as folks move out of Douglas County.

Mike Blur 7 years, 10 months ago

Bubbles and beebo, let's not forget that Union Carbide is responsible for the worst industrial disaster in human history.

For those of you too young to remember, google/wiki "Bhopal."

KsTwister 7 years, 10 months ago

Any tax is going to go up in flames at the polls. People are tired of bailing out city hall and overtaxed already. Still they will blow $1million to give the Carnegie building a new face,more traffic calming,traffic lights(610K),expensive bike trails,money to a golf course. As long as the sales tax reserve fund goes into the park and rec budget then a no vote will be my immediate answer as well as many others. The 43 million spent from our previous budgets from commissioners who mismanaged the city's money is not the taxpayers fault or the taxpayers responsibility to fix it.

nlf78 7 years, 10 months ago

I say Impact Fees are the best way to go.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Once again taxpayers get shorted on details. More retail honestly is not the answer as that requires way too much infrastructure Lawrence is 30% over saturated. Light industrial is said to have less infrastructure needs and pays better wages than retail. Light industrial is white collar,blue collar and green collar. I say go after green collar industries for that is the wave of the future and it's becoming a booming business. It seems too much effort is being placed in the life science industry and it does want tax dollars as well.

Focus on light industrial and bigger paychecks for that will produce economic growth. Challenging Topeka and KCMO/JOCO for their retail dollars seems absurd. Bigger paychecks will produce more expendable cash locally and some will still go to KCMO/JOCO to do some shopping but so what.

Stop building sprawl because taxpayers cannot afford it nor is it desired.

Now taxpayers have the county and the city each wanting to increase the mil levy but offer no very specific details. Expanding the tax base began in ernest around 1985 which has done little more than produce increased taxes through inflated property values. Is it any wonder why eyebrows are raised?

Citizens cannot afford to have the real estate industry running this community.

Laying people off is not good for the economy nor does it necessarily increase efficiency.

KS 7 years, 10 months ago

Cut services on the M "T". I still see the darn busses running around town empty. Run them where there are people using it and not all over the place. What a way to run a railroad. Tax, tax, tax. Gee whiz! It's just money, money, money and more money and as long as it is not their's, why not? Dumb! The government can not be all things to all people.

craigers 7 years, 10 months ago

I know Olathe's sales tax rate is higher than our rate in Lawrence. However, it isn't a full 1% larger. If we hike our sales tax by that amount, then we will probably lose tax dollars to other communities. Especially for a bedroom community, it would be easier to spend our money in cities that don't have as high of taxes. As for the mil increase, what a surprise. They tell us they are going to cut the budget and balance the fiscal problems and then they tout a sales tax increase. Public obviously doesn't agree with it so instead of balancing their ill-planned expenditures with their revenues, they decide to raise the levy. Can we have a year where it doesn't go up? I understand that I haven't been a homeowner for very long, but I know for these three years, my property taxes have done nothing but increase. This is very frustrating for all homeowners that we are constantly being passed an increase to make up for our city leadership's lack of planning and execution.

craigers 7 years, 10 months ago

Bowhunter99, since we are paying for it I would think they should disclose that to all of us.

Bruce Rist 7 years, 10 months ago

Can't spend what you don't have... Time to cut services

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

EmJones wrote "Public transportation never breaks even, anywhere!" Does that make it right?

bstone 7 years, 10 months ago

There is another option to try and solve this problem besides cutting services or raising sales and property tax. We could always implement a Land Value Tax. For more info and links see

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

By the way, KU on Wheels breaks even; so, the argument that public transportation never pays for itself is disproved right here in Lawrence.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

So, Hack floats the idea of a sales tax, which requires voter approval, and gets 70% negative feedback on that; so, she and Boog default to a property tax increase, which they can impose without voter approval.

Saw that one coming, several months ago.

No new taxes, no increased mills, for anything. Get back to the basics. And quit going after Federal and State funds that come with strings attached and that, inevitably, result in new entitlements that cost us millions of dollars and that no one is ever willing to give up when it turns out to be a) a bad idea, or b) more than we can afford.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

It is time for the legislature to audit the city budget, for the Feds to audit the T expenditures.

Eileen Emmi Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Godot (Anonymous) says: EmJones wrote "Public transportation never breaks even, anywhere!" Does that make it right?

Probably not as far as you are concerned.

Centrist 7 years, 10 months ago

When I was a teenager I got around just fine ... using my bike, or FEET.

pelliott 7 years, 10 months ago

Do you think it is right for us to take tax dollars from someone so stupid that they drive past their Walmart in Jowhnson county or Shawnee county to shop at a new walmart in Lawrence?mmm. For the first time I heard an argument against the t from someone who's family used the t. I don't think kids should go downtown and shop for entertainment. Shopping and downtown are kind of dangerous activities and locales. Shopping isn't entertainment, it is hell, you have to go into stores and buy things, very painful.

Bubbles 7 years, 10 months ago

mike_blur (Mike Blur) says:

Bubbles and beebo, let's not forget that Union Carbide is responsible for the worst industrial disaster in human history.

For those of you too young to remember, google/wiki "Bhopal."?????????????

Gee, let me guess who was actually running the equipment when it went kerplooee.

WWoftheW 7 years, 10 months ago

Bowhunter; The city website has the 2008 and the 2007 budget on line. You have to do alot of digging to find everything including all the Chamber of Commerce monies the city gives them, but it is there. 2008 budget is being added to at this point so you will have to check for added budget stuff thru the month or so.

joe_cool 7 years, 10 months ago

Let me start by saying that I am somewhat new to Lawrence. So excuse me if I am missing out on some info.

Why does is seem soo taboo to talk about the Biggest consumer of out tax dollars? The School corporation.

My experience is if you want to cut costs you go after the highest cost item.

Please understand I really like the scool corporation and this was part of the reason for moving here. I just wanted to get some insight.

Thanks

Eileen Emmi Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Housing is already too high here; higher property taxes will exacerbate that. Sales tax is already too high here. It's getting to the point where it isn't worth living in Lawrence anymore. I see Lawrence headed toward becoming another Olathe. Sprawl, big box stores everywhere, and no more support for the things that make Lawrence livable. Soon it won't be worth paying more to live here. I can live anywhere west of here in Kansas for much, much less.

Eileen Emmi Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

joe_cool: Schools are important to people in Lawrence. This is a city of educators, after all. Schools never have enough money. It isn't the first place I would look to cut funding.

I think one should first look at who benefits and whether the recipient should benefit, from public funding. Giveaways to developers, in my opinion, ought to be the first on the chopping block.

karensisson 7 years, 10 months ago

Centrist (Anonymous) says: When I was a teenager I got around just fine : using my bike, or FEET.

Lawrence is a lot bigger now.

Yabut 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Marion. It seems like the city is trying to balance the budget on the backs of city employees. From what I've heard, the employees are being pushed to the limits. It wouldn't surprise me if a sudden case of blue flu rose up soon. And the "raise" isn't a raise, it's a cost of living increase.

Charles L Bloss Jr 7 years, 10 months ago

If you people would stop wasting money on ridiculous things, you wouldn't have to raise people's taxes. Thank you, Lynn

Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 10 months ago

Marion wrote: "I am now completely disgusted with the entire City Commission."

Well, now, that didn't take long. And I lost that office pool.

Mike Blur 7 years, 10 months ago

Since you tried to deflect the question, Bubbles, let me ask you directly.

How many innocent civilians died in the Bhopal disaster?

Union Carbide tries to claim "only "3,800"--ironically, about the same amount of American lives lost in this here Iraq debacle--but, the long term death toll will exceed 25,000, and probably much more.

How many question marks will you post after my newest query?

I left some open space fer ya.

karensisson 7 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence, once upon a time, had a single high school and the town ended at Kasold. Then, I would agree a kid could walk or bike anywhere they needed to go. Some would argue against biking in ice and snow and rain, but what do they know.

Now, the town has doubled in area and another high school is six miles away from downtown. Some kids have to travel six miles to school, thanks to the way this second high school was planned (asinine, if you ask me). And Sixth Street is a freakin' highway. I don't want my kid biking between Free State High and downtown on that high-traffic road.

Some kids have 0 hour classes or after-school clubs and such. The bus makes it possible for some of these kids to participate, because the school bus won't take them their six miles home before or after hours.

I'm all for exercise and not codding teenagers. But a kid cannot walk or bike everywhere they need to go in Lawrence - not in any way you or I would accept.

karensisson 7 years, 10 months ago

We knew this city commission would be corrupt because of who financed their campaigns - even before they were elected. West Lawrence elected these new commissioners - the neighborhood filled with realtors and developers. You know, the neighborhood that went for George W. Bush which says a lot. As for Mayor Hack, she's been owned by Doug Compton & Co. all along, benefiting as she is on the insurance business he gives Alan Hack Insurance. Doug Compton is a customer of Mike Dever's environmental consulting firm, too.

Nothing this commission is doing is surprising me one bit. I guess I had hoped to be proved wrong, but they're behaving exactly as I expected they would, only worse (I didn't expect the tax hikes).

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

My kids are as athletic as any around. They grew up hiking, camping, canoeing, skiing almost every weekend, mountain biking (obviously not in Kansas). We never believed much in strollers, feeling we should carry them or they should walk. They're slim and fit. They walk or bike home from school most of the time, in any kind of weather (that's a three-mile walk for one of them). Now that you know...

We live five miles from downtown and more than six miles from the movie theatres. That's a two-hour walk each way and a one-hour bike ride each way in heavy, fast traffic. There are times when a two-hour walk each way just isn't going to happen. I don't want them bicycling on Highway 40 or down on South Iowa because they'll be killed, especially with the horrible drivers in this town. Bob Billings and and Clinton Parkway are as bad. It's bad enough that when they bike to Free State High in 8 and 3 o'clock congestion they cross five lanes at 6th and Wakarusa and negotiate that bottleneck at Harvard and Wakarusa. (I can hardly wait for the Wal-Mart traffic to add to the mess, ugh. I hope to be in a different neighborhood by then.)

I don't think every teenager should own a car, nor should they have to own a car to get around. They shouldn't be stuck at home, as it's the latchkey kids who get into the most trouble.

My kids ride the T all over town to visit their friends, spend money in coffee shops and CD stores and restaurants and at the movies, and use the parks. The T gives them this freedom, and I'm sure the recipients of their spending are happy about it too. I'm happy to support the local businesses if the kids want to spend their earnings this way. One of my kids gets to a job downtown on the T, at a time of day when his working parents can't give him a ride.

Without the T, they wouldn't get around they way they are able, because my husband and I both work. I'd gladly pay a higher fare for the T because it's important to my family. (I don't think everyone can afford more, though.)

My point is just that the T is beneficial to many people in many ways.

Sigmund 7 years, 10 months ago

"The most successful public transportation systems of all, like in New York City and Chicago, get around half their operating expenses from fares." Notice the difference in population size and density between Chicago, New York and Larryville Kansas? Which is one of my points. Lawrence doesn't need a bus system! My other point, if you want public transportation then the ridership needs to pay more of the costs, At $3.30/ride, one-half the costs would be $1.65 much much cheaper than cab fare.

Finally, who says the current size of the buses and routes are the most appropriate? Maybe smaller buses running more frequently and different routes wouldn't waste less fuel, dollars and pollute less. The only way to know is to force the City and MV Transportation to reduce their losses by increasing fares and reducing the amount of corporate welfare we pay year after year. I am not opposed to public transportation. I am opposed to the current EmpTy bus system.

Finally, at $1,400,000 in cost and 450,000 rides per year why not subsidize cab rides by $2.00 instead of $3.30 per bus rider? Total costs $900,000 / year, savings $500,000 year, the riders pay more per ride BUT they get point-to-point service exactly when they want and need it meaning they spend less time waiting for buses and save a trip downtown for transfer if they don't want to go downtown. Cabs are a lot more efficient at carrying 1 or 2 riders than buses and they don't run even when and where they are not needed, like summertime, when Lawrence has a smaller population.

Eileen Emmi Jones 7 years, 10 months ago

Sigmund (Anonymous) says:

"The most successful public transportation systems of all, like in New York City and Chicago, get around half their operating expenses from fares." Notice the difference in population size and density between Chicago, New York and Larryville Kansas? Which is one of my points. Lawrence doesn't need a bus system!

Sigmund, you mean YOU don't need a bus system. You can't speak for all of Lawrence in that regard.

Raising the fares would hurt the poorest people the most. That's what we want, right? To stick it to the poorest people. Mayor Hack's regressive sales tax plays right along with that plan.

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says: Well, some of my buddies are not going to like this but if this commission cannot clean up the garbage with which City Hall became filled since the advent of the "Progressives" then it too, should be run out of town on rails.

You may not agree with me, but I believe with all my heart that the "Progressives" meant well and had the good of all the citizens at heart. I can't say that about the current occupants (except Boog).

Bubbles 7 years, 10 months ago

mike_blur (Mike Blur) says:

Since you tried to deflect the question, Bubbles, let me ask you directly.

How many innocent civilians died in the Bhopal disaster?

Union Carbide tries to claim "only "3,800"-ironically, about the same amount of American lives lost in this here Iraq debacle-but, the long term death toll will exceed 25,000, and probably much more.

How many question marks will you post after my newest query?

I left some open space fer ya.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's yer point?

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

Marion, I don't think there is such a dire budget shortfall as Mayor Hack wants us to believe. She wants a tax increase to pay for a $30 million library and P.L.A.Y. - plus everything Doug Compton wants. She can't sell that unless the sky is falling and all Lawrence holds dear is on the chopping block.

We don't need a tax increase. We need more and better jobs so people will have more money to spend. That's what these new commissioners promised, and I don't see them doing anything except cut jobs and services and raise taxes. We need a few new restaurants and stores so people will come to, or stay in Lawrence more often to spend money instead of going to the Plaza or wherever (NOT a second Wal-Mart or a duplication of any business we already have). And we need to stop the mayor from pushing on us taxpayers every expensive project her developer friends dream up, because the town cannot afford them. (If they're such great plans, why don't they fund them privately?) Stop funding infrastructure for the developers' new development - make them pay their own way 100% from now on. Impact fees, hell yes! Why haven't they been paying impact fees in these years of explosive growth?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 10 months ago

Marion

,

go

visit

the

goose

&

calm

down

.

You

don't

even

live

in

Lawrence

.

karensisson 7 years, 10 months ago

Boog is the only one looking out for Lawrence first (developers after). I've heard he doesn't want to run again. Too bad we put him in a minority by electing commissioners who only look out for their special interest people. Doug Compton owns this commission.

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, Boog is a good 'un. I appreciate that he continues to speak from his intentions of making Lawrence the best place to live for all its residents. He's the only one on the commission I can say that about. Everybody else seems to be beholden to some very small, wealthy subset of Lawrence.

erod0723 7 years, 10 months ago

I rent, so bring on the property taxes. Most of the people in this town are college age and rent, so this will hurt the local economy less.

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

erod0723: What makes you think your rent does not reflect your landlord's costs to own the property, including his property taxes? Unless you have a lifetime lease, it's almost certain this will cost you too.

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

I suspect there may be less revenue than someone projected because we are at the trailing end of a huge bubble in real estate and of people flocking to Lawrence to live. That is what happens when there is a bubble. Nobody ever knows exactly when the bubble is going to burst - at least not a year of time so they can adjust their projections. Every future year is projected based on the trend immediately preceding. There's another thing: People would rather stick sharp needles in their eyes than admit the bubble is collapsing. Nobody wants to bear that message. Nobody wants to be the one to call it right, or to call it wrong and then be criticized for that. When I moved here in summer 2004 my realtor kept insisting we should buy the biggest house we could possibly buy because prices were skyrocketing and we'd make 15% a year, but the market "felt" soft to me. Sure enough, we bought at the top of the market. Not that we had a choice, we needed a house. At least I bought directly from the homeowner and not from that realtor, in the end. Funny, those realtors know so much more than I do, but I've consistently done better buying and selling when I do it without a realtor.

erod0723 7 years, 10 months ago

I have rent control.. Therefore, my landlord cannot do anything. Let's raise them property values and taxes through the roof! Or better yet, have fiscal responsibility in the city government. But raising taxes is sooo much easier.

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

Higher property taxes means business charge more, too.

Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 10 months ago

I suspect the shortfall is due to an overly optimistic revenues estimate and the mill levy decrease. The combination exacerbated what would have been, had either occurred in isolation, an uncomfortable spot into a difficult one.

Wasn't it Schauner's idea to cut the mill levy? Or I think he was the key proponent, if it wasn't.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Revenue that is less than hoped is not the problem: spending, big city government, and the prevalent attitude in Lawrence of those who passionately believe that, if they want it, it is up to the rest of the taxpayers to provide it, exacerbated by weak city commissioners who are more concerned with their own political futures than they are with solving the financial problems that confront Lawrence, and boards who give 33% raises to city employees "because they might earn more elsewhere"..Those are "the problem."

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

The solution is a tax on excessive income. Tax everyone in Lawrence who earns more than 4 times the poverty rate for a family of four , or $80,000. Make it a flat 5% on gross income that exceeds 4 times the poverty rate.

That ought to tap every government administrator in town for a really tidy sum. That would catch all publicly employed administrators, of which there are many in Lawrence.

Gene Meyers, alone, would pay, $18,750. That is enough to hire another clerk at the hospital for an entire year. Oooh, and think of what Lew Perkins and all his sons, sons-in-law, cousins and cousins of cousins and friends of distant cousins would be forced to contribute to the Lawrence economy!!!

That seems fair, doesn't it? Make all those public servants with obscenely high salaries pay a little back.

kanshawk 7 years, 10 months ago

eaglebend, the roundabouts, hiring consultants to tell the city they're losing money, fighting wal-mart, and crushing the real estate/construction market, the smoking ban, are all reasons our economy is suffering.

Do thinks efficiently. The city should always prosper from growth, if not something is wrong with the way the city is running. If its some fancy 250,000 traffic light, come up with an idea to help pay for it. A lot of homes have some kind of localized tax for improvments. Do this temporarily for the area directly around the Traffic light. Maybe come up with a % and the city pays half the neighbor hood pays the other over time.

Stop blaming other people because you're biased against west lawrence, the T, or wal mart. if wal-mart wants to build 15 stores here, guess what they can! They're not building it because doug compton is the god father of some walton babies. they're doing it because they think they will make money. Quit blaming people for personal bias when the city wastes so much money to begin with.

coneflower 7 years, 10 months ago

kanshawk says: If its some fancy 250,000 traffic light, come up with an idea to help pay for it. A lot of homes have some kind of localized tax for improvments. Do this temporarily for the area directly around the Traffic light.

What if the neighborhood doesn't want it? What if a traffic light is needed only because a developer wants to build a bunch of stores that will increase traffic? I say the developer should pay for it - not the neighborhood. Neighborhoods don't need to support developers.

This is the situation at 6th and George Williams Way with that $200,000 the city is paying for a traffic light. Actually, the city just says it's for the traffic light; the project isn't prorated in that way, the city is just sharing the cost of the whole shebang with the developer.

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