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Archive for Wednesday, August 6, 2008

2 sales tax questions approved

Voters to decide on enhanced transit, infrastructure funding

Voters in Lawrence will have a chance in November to decide on two new sales tax proposals.

August 6, 2008

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Consider Tuesday night's primary election a warm-up.

Lawrence city commissioners early this morning agreed to up the stakes in the November general election by placing two sales tax questions on the ballot.

One sales tax would be a two-tenths-of-a-percent tax to support the operations of the city's public transit service. The second question would be a three-tenths-of-a-percent tax to improve street maintenance, improve sidewalks, purchase fire trucks, undertake a major North Lawrence stormwater project and build the Burroughs Creek rail trail in eastern Lawrence.

"I'm not fearful that this won't pass," Mayor Mike Dever said as commissioners debated the proposal after the midnight hour.

The issue created strong debate among commissioners, who were split on whether to present the sales tax initiatives as one winner-take-all question or to split the issue into two questions that would allow voters to give a thumbs-up or down to the city's transit system.

Supporters of the transit system spoke for nearly an hour urging the commission to combine the two votes and to increase the amount of funding for the transit system. Members of the crowd lobbied commissioners to increase the transit portion of the sales tax to 0.25 percent to ensure that the bus system will have enough funding to continue operating at current service levels.

A majority of commissioners rejected both pleas. Commissioners on a 3-2 vote agreed to place two separate questions on the ballot.

"These issues are going to have to stand or fail on their own merits," Commissioner Sue Hack said.

Commissioners Mike Amyx and Boog Highberger both supported combining the sales tax into one vote, saying it would make it easier to develop a coalition to pass the sales tax.

Members of the crowd agreed and said it would be difficult to muster support unless a greater amount of the sales tax was devoted to the transit system.

"If you don't set it up to work, we won't work for it," said Hilda Enoch, a longtime public transit advocate. "It has to be the 0.25."

The idea of increasing the transit sales tax did not gain traction with a majority of commissioners.

The November vote is shaping up as a survival test for the city's bus system. Commissioners have pulled all property tax funding for transit services out of the 2009 budget and are relying solely on the future sales tax to fund the system. If voters don't approve the transit sales tax, commissioners have no firm contingency plan to keep a bus system operating.

The bus system is facing a funding crisis after operational costs are expected to increase by $1 million in 2009 because of rising fuel costs and aging buses.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

BTW, glock, ridership for July 2008 was up from July 2007-- will you update your graph to show that?

notajayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

And once again I'll say this, merrill:Unless you're posting from a wigwam, it's a safe bet somebody objected to the development of the land you're living on, too. Get over yourself.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

" It is costing more than pennies a day "I believe that the current funding costs on average about 7 cents a day per Lawrence resident.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

The "T" should be designed differently, with buses running along major streets in a grid system, rather than a hub.It doesn't need to snake around downtown and stop at each little spot.Fares should be raised to provide more of the operating costs, though it should be noted that no public transportation systems actually "break even". Most collect a greater percentage from fare collections however.My wife and I have wanted to use the system from 4-5 different places in town we've lived. In all of them, it would have taken 4-5 times the amount of time it takes to drive. Also, it would have required going away from our destination, waiting 20 minutes downtown, and then going to our destination.That makes no sense.

love2eat 6 years, 4 months ago

There is a lot more to all of this that the papers haven't adequately addressed:www.lawrencelandgrab.com

Lori Nation 6 years, 4 months ago

Let's all move to Eudora where there are NO SCHOOL FEES (which Lawrence needs to look into!!), and cheaper cost of living!!

monkeyhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

"Then, point the finger at yourself and your kind who have killed the city with your anti-growth attitudes an obstructionist behavior.""Now this is nothing but baseless name-calling. But hypocrisy is one of your strong suits."Sorry I called you a ""your kind". I now realize how offensive that is, and I implore the moderator not to ban my account.

Sigmund 6 years, 4 months ago

Another installment of the LJW award winning series, "Chad Lawhorn Touts New City Taxes!" Part 46, "Boog and the Barber Urge 2-Fer-1!" Is there no one at the LJW except Chad Lawhorn, Cub Reporter, who can write about budget and tax issues?This Commission needs to either cut all existing departments equally (except Fire and Police) and raise fares for the empTy to at least 25% of the cost of the service ($2.00), or simply get rid of it and stop paying over $200,000/MONTH month after month $2,600,000/YEAR, year after year, in corporate welfare to MV Transportation.Increasing taxes sucks money out of the local private economy. Every dollar in new taxes is a dollar less to spend with local businesses. Vote "No" for ANY new taxes. Then vote against all incumbents in the next general election. Redo until we get a Commission that can live within a budget and doesn't attempt to extort more and more money year after year.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Finally after decades of contributing to the this problem some local business leaders admitted:Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments. The community is way over extended in this regard. If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.But they did not take the wise and fiscally responsible step. They did not call for a moratorium on new housing projects that would allow property values to regain lost value and become rock solid. Instead more and more will be approved thus further decreasing existing values. The foreclosures across the country are increasing even among those who more than qualified for prime home loans. Adding more and more homes to the market further compounds the problem of value depletion.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"Then, point the finger at yourself and your kind who have killed the city with your anti-growth attitudes an obstructionist behavior."Now this is nothing but baseless name-calling. But hypocrisy is one of your strong suits.

Satirical 6 years, 4 months ago

Vote 'No' on the T tax. If the T is having budget problems they need to do what every other private business would do; increase fares, or decrease their massive fleet of buses. This is the problem with bureaucratically run "services." They decide on an arbitrary number of buses and an arbitrary price and expect the taxpayers to make up the difference between supply and demand.However, the free market is efficient and fair. If demand for the T is up, then they can increase the number of routes and buses. If demand is down they can lower the price and cater to the needs of the consumer. The T needs do what every other business does, increase revenue or decrease costs, and not make a taxpayer pay for bureaucratic stupidity. Why do you think they wanted to combine the taxes? They knew the T tax would be unlikely to stand on its own. A despicable political maneuver to bamboozle the taxpayer.

KsTwister 6 years, 4 months ago

When taxes are raised over and over to fix the infrastructure in this town and the money goes for budget items different than for what they were intended, it is not the citizens who are stupid. The commission blew it, they know it, and the "no" vote on the November ballot will prove how fed up citizens are.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

" The system should have started small in the first place with Mini vans"Actually, it did start with much smaller vans. They were often too full to take on all the passengers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"We cut out non-essentials."The transit system is an essential service. It has been underfunded from the start, so the service provided has been inadequate to build a strong ridership among riders who would take it by choice.In spite of this, there are many hundreds of Lawrence residents who have no choice. They depend on the "T," as inadequate as it is.So this will be an interesting referendum. It's clear that Hack, Dever and Chestnut have all decided to kill the "T," but just don't have the guts to do it directly. They've tried to portray it as being fiscally responsible, but in the previous action of the night, they OKed a leapfrog annexation that will almost certainly cost Lawrence taxpayers much, much more than the "T" does, but will provide no discernible gain for those taxpayers in return.So which Lawrence will turn out in November?-- a forward-thinking community that cares about all its residents, or a petty, self-centered one that won't spend a few pennies a day providing a service essential to its most vulnerable residents; a service that could potentially serve many thousands more than it currently does.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

"The transit system is an essential service. It has been underfunded from the start, so the service provided has been inadequate to build a strong ridership among riders who would take it by choice."The T was set up by your "visionaries". Point the finger at the ones who lacked the foresight and common sense to fund and plan it adequately. Then, point the finger at yourself and your kind who have killed the city with your anti-growth attitudes an obstructionist behavior. See, it takes new taxpayers to fund unnecessary pet projects."So which Lawrence will turn out in November?- a forward-thinking community that cares about all its residents, or a petty, self-centered one that won't spend a few pennies a day providing a service essential to its most vulnerable residents; a service that could potentially serve many thousands more than it currently does Typical boozo --- preemptive name calling of all those who do not share her opinion. That's the way to win friends and influence people.

LogicMan 6 years, 4 months ago

Tough call on the roads, but the bus is easy. NO -- then rethink it, likely to a much smaller system that runs big loops mainly on the four major streets.

skinny 6 years, 4 months ago

The high cost of gas is killing us already.No and no!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

"This plan is spending a lot of money preparing that North Lawrence airport project space for development aka local corporate welfare. The spending could look something like this:$16.2 million - Reconstruction Projects $24.8 million - Flood Control $326,000 - culvert at 24/40 $477,000 - Bridge at 1600 rd $8 million - water and sewer PLUS maintenance costsafter installation $? million - raise the highway that acts as a levee toprevent flooding of the airport $? million traffic controlI say let the developers pay!In addition to the Le Compton corporate welfare project. Yes some offer has been made by the developer to pick up part of the tab for water and sewer. That is only a small contribution compared to what will be necessary to prepare that area for the traffic demand that thus far is an illusion. This is one more project on the backs of taxpayers Another tax increase project is the expansion of 31st street.* Another tax increase project could be the $200,000,000Trafficway. The feds and state government are notcoughing up the dough."It seems the real estate/development community is not paying for itself so why should they continue to receive tax dollar assistance for projects that do not generate enough tax revenue to cover their expenses? Taxpayers are getting screwed!

Sigmund 6 years, 4 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says:"The transit system is an essential service. It has been underfunded from the start, so the service provided has been inadequate to build a strong ridership among riders who would take it by choice."If all that many of the bus rides were "essential" then the riders would willing pay $2.00-$4.00 (25-50%) of the cost of their "essential ride." They have shown no interest in helping pick up the increased costs so it doesn't appear to be all that important to the riders. They must believe that less costly choices than $2.00-$4.00 bus rides exists. And what is inadequate about the funding? Simply throwing other peoples money at the empTy isn't a solution. It won't change the population density of a non-growing (smart or otherwise) 80,000 market, the single most important factor that drives successful mass transit.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 4 months ago

For all the people here saying no to the bus, a lot of KU students will be voting yes. Roads is just something they just need to raise taxes on. They will anyway if it get's voted down, so pick your poison.

BigPrune 6 years, 4 months ago

The City Commissioners should grow some thunder balls and start cutting staff at City Hall, and if it's Corliss that needs to do it - he already had his chance, but they won't - they don't get paid enough to screw with the fat cutting, it's Corliss' job and he's too much a buddy to everyone down there. The parks sales tax was passed in '95 with a 10-year sunset clause that was extended indefinitely. Now they want more for Mr. Hallucinogenic William (I killed my wife William Tell style in Mexico) Burrough's Trail?Why does the City have more supervisors than peons? Why hasn't planning and building inspections had major cuts since nobody wants to come to Lawrence anymore?No, let's just keep raising taxes the people will pass it since we are an island of educated idiots in a sea of normalcy, whatever.We should be proud of ourselves. Thank you former Progressive commission for giving us your legacy of crap. Why not file bankruptcy like our former mayor?

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 4 months ago

How about a vote to lower taxes. Why don't we ever get that option?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"The T was set up by your "visionaries""Actually, it was passed under a commission dominated by chambocrats." preemptive name calling of all those who do not share her opinion."It's not name-calling-- it's accurate description, and you are a poster child for the attitudes I described.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

The commission could have continued to fund the "T" just as it has been-- they could have even increased the funding. But now that money is getting tight, this commission wants to use that money for its pet projects, but it's the "T" they put up for a vote, not their pet corporate/developer welfare projects.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence Kansas = voodoo economics = shell out local corporate welfare while ignoring the government responsibility of maintaining older infrastructure before it crumbles."The Year of Driving Dangerously: A Construction Expert Blasts America's Lack of Infrastructure Action One Year After the I-35W Bridge CollapseIt is hard to believe a year has passed since the tragic I-35W Bridge collapse in Minnesota, but it's true. August 1st marks the first anniversary of an event that showed how vulnerable America's infrastructure truly is. And if you'd assumed that since then federal and state government officials have burned the midnight oil trying to solve the problem, well, you'd be wrong. Construction attorney Barry LePatner says that the past year of inaction-which, incidentally, also saw more than 30 Midwest levee breaks that caused billions of dollars in damage and numerous bridge closings that resulted from inspections that followed the I-35W collapse-proves that our infrastructure wake-up call has fallen on deaf ears."Unfortunately, it seems no one in our government is bothered by the fact that the public no longer trusts our so-called leaders to keep us safe," he adds. "Bureaucrats and politicians were ignoring our infrastructure problems before the collapse, and a year later they're continuing to ignore them. Meanwhile, Americans continue to drive across thousands of bridges that are not only in need of serious repair, but that were never designed for the amount of traffic we inflict on them now in the first place."Consider a story out of Georgia in which reports identifying several bridges as hazardous were thrown away. Why? Because the official in charge of the reports said handling the problem would have required too much paperwork and involve too many people. Stories like this one are clear indications that Minnesota isn't the only state that has had its political head in the sand regarding its infrastructure problems."Clearly, government at all levels is falling down on the job we've hired them to perform,"

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

It would be wise for taxpayers to demand a list written in stone detailing exactly how this money would be spent. The list should have been available to the public before putting this matter on the ballot.This plan is spending a lot of money preparing that North Lawrence airport project space for development aka local corporate welfare. The spending could look something like this:$16.2 million - Reconstruction Projects $24.8 million - Flood Control $326,000 - culvert at 24/40 $477,000 - Bridge at 1600 rd $8 million - water and sewer PLUS maintenance costs after installation * $? million - raise the highway that acts as a levee to prevent flooding of the airport $? million traffic control I say let the developers pay! In addition to the Le Compton corporate welfare project. Yes some offer has been made by the developer to pick up part of the tab for water and sewer. That is only a small contribution compared to what will be necessary to prepare that area for the traffic demand that thus far is an illusion. This is one more project on the backs of taxpayers Another tax increase project is the expansion of 31st street. Another tax increase project could be the $200,000,000 Trafficway. The feds and state government are not coughing up the dough.

monkeywrench1969 6 years, 4 months ago

BozoThe T was ill conceived from the beginning. It has always been only plan to the end of your nose and they forget there is always more in front of you. The system should have started small in the first place with Mini vans (SIminalr to those in Vegas) running the same routes (costing less in fuel and would be more efficient). They would have been full and more cost efficent in the long run. I think a transit system is needed on a smaller scale to help those without transportation, but it needs to be operating at least at a "break even level". The T is no where close. It is costing more than pennies a day in driver salaries alone I am quite certain because the cost per ride is not covering it.

lawrencian 6 years, 4 months ago

Sigmund, no one has ever proposed raising the fare to $2 or $4, that I've ever heard of, except for you, in this forum. Perhaps you need to go to a PTAC meeting and bring it up to the people who actually decide what the fare should be, instead of just spouting off about it online. Maybe then we could take you more seriously.

Lori Nation 6 years, 4 months ago

Did everyone know that Lawrence School District only verifies 2-4% of families applying for free or reduced school, lunch, bus fees!! But yet they want to raise taxes! Go figure who is playing the power trip??

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

" Finally we have a CC who doesn't cave, and is not a puppet for small, special interest groups."Whoa, are you a character out of "1984" or what?

BigPrune 6 years, 4 months ago

No, Swan Diver, this commission won't overturn anything your glorious progressives passed. That's why our city is so screwed up.

Alison Roberts 6 years, 4 months ago

I really think the bus system just needs to be revised. I like the idea of using major streets as routes as opposed to snaking around all the back streets, its ridiculous. But I have said it before, I like the fact that I have a back up option when my car isnt working. Re-vamp, not veto.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

"It's not name-calling- it's accurate description, and you are a poster child for the attitudes I described."Then I wear it proudly.However, seems like the petty, selfish ones are those who want everyone else to pay for their own misfortunes. 99% of the population who do not ride must fund the choices of 1%. But, I feel your pain. I know what it is like to feel that I have no control. After all, the only real power we have is at the polls. (Isn't that what merrill has been screeching about??) Too bad KMA could not force this commission to do their bidding. Finally we have a CC who doesn't cave, and is not a puppet for small, special interest groups. I am proud to say that I voted for 4 of these representatives, who truly are the visionaries. Sorry that boozo is still smarting from that stunning loss.Notice that the best turnout was once again on the west side...

Satirical 6 years, 4 months ago

This is the problem with bureaucratically run "services." They decide on an arbitrary number of buses and an arbitrary price and expect the taxpayers to make up the difference between supply and demand.This tax proposal illustrates the inherent problems with government. When times are going well they find a way to spend all the money (Any idiot can spend money), but when the economy is weak they just ask for more money rather than practicing fiscal responsibility. They demand we have to pay higher prices at the pump when we can't afford, and now they want more taxes. Individuals have to live within a budget and can't get an increase in income simply because their costs have gone up the government needs to do the same. I guess this just shows the hubris of Lawrence officials.

Satirical 6 years, 4 months ago

I think we should raise taxes to give me a new home entertainment system. I will allow indigent people who can't afford one to watch my 90' LCD widescreen TV with digital surround sound for a small fee. When my TV is outdated or I just feel like a new one I will ask for a tax increase. If you don't approve this tax measure it shows you don't really care about the poor who need to watch TV to learn important current event.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

Interesting graphs, glock, but you might also want to point out that the primary causes for a decrease in ridership (and not very dramatic decreases, either) were the startup of the KU Park and Ride system, and a rather hefty fare increase. Couple that with the fact that it's still the same underfunded, inadequate system that it has been from day one, and your graphs reveal very little that couldn't have been easily predicted.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

none2-- Obviously, you don't approve of public transit systems, and you would never use one yourself, so I really don't expect you to even want to understand what it takes to make an effective system. But despite your ignorance, willful or otherwise, of such things, it's still an essential service that we as a community have a responsibility to make work.

been_there 6 years, 4 months ago

The city needs to do what the rest of us have to do, if they want the T, take away from flowers and trees and other frills. I just got my electric bill. The same amount of electricity cost me $155 last year, this year the same amount of electricity cost $200. I will be doing without some "frills" which are things that are not necessary to the running of the household.

sdinges 6 years, 4 months ago

The idea that if you keep raising taxes enough, the government will suddenly, miraculously become fiscally responsible is pretty naive.Until the government - local or federal - gets it's budgetary act together and proves it can make hard choices, then we need to stop handing them more and more money to waste.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

IrishCat: "... taught him how to budget, how to cook, and live independently was to learn the bus system so that he could become a productive, wage-earning, independent young man, and that is what he has become."Though fond of the Irish, I'd never thought of myself as much of a "cat" person. You're post has changed that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

Well, none2, as worldly as you may be, there are many systems around the world, in towns no larger than Lawrence, that work much better than the one here-- I've been on several such systems. Granted, those communities take the task of creating and maintaining their systems much more seriously, and make a greater investment than our half-assed attempt. In those places, they appreciate the contribution to community such systems provide, while the relatively high percentage of folks with anti-social tendencies in this country make that harder to accomplish. But no small wonder-- our emperor really is naked, and nearly a third of our population still thinks he looks great in his cowboy costume.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

Sadly, IrishCat, most of those who hate the very thought of public transportation couldn't care less what effect its elimination would have on people like your son. As you have read, they know, without even knowing him or you, that he is just lazy and shiftless, and not deserving of even few pennies of their money-- even though any of their favorite city services are fully funded or subsidized by your tax dollars.

Thinking_Out_Loud 6 years, 4 months ago

none2, please tell me you didn't really think it was necessary to recount the plot to "The Emperor's New Clothes" or to outline its allegorical message.... Please tell me you don't really think that we've heard neither the story nor considered its moral.

IrishCat 6 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for the comment, I moved to Lawrence 15 years ago specifically for the autism program. My family was only one of approximately 60 families that moved to Lawrence for the very same reason....we were desparate to find a place with a suitable program for our children, and at the time, Lawrence was one of the best places in town, and still is. I have chosen to stay in Lawrence because of the people that live here, and the services we can receive here. Do I work full time and pay taxes? you bet I do, I have two jobs and typically work about 60 hours a week. Does my 17 year old daughter work and pay taxes in the city? Yes she does. As mentioned, my son also works and pays taxes to the city of Lawrence. If your house catches on fire, shouldn't you be able to find comfort in the fact that the fire department will come and help you? If your house gets burglarized, don't the police come and help? Why then, if the bus is considered a "city service" isn't it provided without concern? It should be on the same scope as any of the city services I would think, except in this case, the customers actually also pay out of pocket costs to ride it.

IrishCat 6 years, 4 months ago

I've been sitting here reading your comments, and have covered about 20 of them so far...in all of those comments I've only seen about two of them show a positive thought toward this bus issue. My question to those of you that want to vote no, or want the "T" to be killed as one put it...do any of you nay sayers even ride the bus? Have you ever ridden the bus? I'm speaking on behalf of my son that is a fine young man with high-functioning autism. Part of his curriculum in a two-year program after graduating from high school that taught him how to budget, how to cook, and live independently was to learn the bus system so that he could become a productive, wage-earning, independent young man, and that is what he has become. He takes himself to and from work each day without having to depend on his mom or his sister to take him to and from his two part time jobs at various hours of the day. It is crucial to his long-term independence to be able to do this. Do any of you have relatives that cannot or do not drive because of their disabilities? what if you had a disability that prevented you from being able to drive? wouldn't you like to have the option of getting on a bus to take yourself to the doctor? to get your prescriptions, etc? I also read a comment on increasing the cost of the bus. Most of the people that ride the bus don't have the money that the rest of you non-riders have. They are on fixed incomes or disability, and some just have such a low income level that they cannot afford cars. If you take $3.00 each way, $6 for the day, times approximately 20 work days each month, that's $120.00 a month taken away from their food and their rental costs. They simply do not have that kind of money. So before you go spouting off about no more taxes, and the unneccessary need for the "T", take a day off from your high paying job and ride the bus. See what kind of people depend on it daily...maybe you'll see things for how they really are.

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