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Letters to the Editor

City must listen

January 25, 2008

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To the editor:

This is in regard to the recent decisions - either on the table or already made - about various real estate properties in Lawrence.

Why does it seem that developers' wishes matter more to Lawrence administrators than those of our community residents? Why does it seem that money and the will to spend it in areas where either a new Wal-Mart, a seven-story hotel or an airport business complex are not wanted, speak louder than the voices of those who come to the City Commission to beg for their support in preventing those?

Lawrence, once a nice town where most businesses served the people who live here, has become what is (rather crassly) called by southern Californians a "tourist trap." Downtown, for all of the praise showered upon it, is a mecca for tourists, with few businesses now serving any but the wealthy members of our community.

I'm glad to see the Casbah opening as a "grocery store" for downtown residents, but it is also unaffordable for the average Lawrence resident. If anyone has read "The Kansas Guidebook" by Marci Penner, I think in comparison to many smaller towns whose populace are struggling just to survive, our community has lost its heart. We are not joined together in planning our businesses or keeping historic buildings preserved by the need for survival.

Elitism is dividing the town, holding those who wish to preserve its character in suspended animation or, worse, feeling defeated.

Listen to your electorate, commissioners, and restore the balance.

M. Roy,

Lawrence

Comments

kansas778 6 years, 11 months ago

Who says you represent the electorate Roy? I think the people that represent the electorate are...the people the electorate chose to represent the city. Oh right, a couple of angry anti-capitalists who storm city hall should run the town, that makes sense.

And M. Roy, don't talk about elitism and businesses who serve only the wealthy and Wal-Mart at the same time. It looks like you're contradicting yourself. Oh wait, you are contradicting yourself.

It's interesting that M. Roy's defintion of a "nice town" seems to be a place to which tourists don't want to go and spend their money. "Lawrence is a NICE town, keep out! This means YOU!"

busymom 6 years, 11 months ago

I'd have to agree that Lawrence being a tourist trap is pretty funny stuff. Not sure exactly how we're classified as a tourist trap. I've been to tourist traps, and Lawrence is nothing like those places.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Each time the real estate industry creates new structures and new neighborhoods it increases the cost of community services to you and all other taxpayers. This increases your taxes and fees.

USD 497 is the least of your worries most of the time. The Chamber of Commerce,City Commission,County Commission and their back doors deals is where you might direct your attention. Their hands are in your wallet.

Tax Increment Financing gets into your wallet and takes money from the school district.

Think about this:

Following the construction of the $88 million sewage treatment plant,which in and of itself increases the cost of community services, will be more: water and sewer lines streets and repairs houses public schools fire stations law enforcement manpower sidewalks snow removal bike trails and cross walks Traffic signals Traffic calming Parks and Rec centers swimming pool maybe developers requesting more tax dollar assistance(new infrastructure) for their warehouses and retail strip malls.

*In general increases the cost of community services to all taxpayers = higher taxes & fees

toefungus 6 years, 11 months ago

Tourist trap? Probably not. Tax Trap? Yes.

OnlyTheOne 6 years, 11 months ago

Com'on Merrill how many times and days are you gonna post that same stuff?!

monkeyhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

OnlyTheOne - He has been instructed by his leaders, Gore & Soros, as a last ditch effort, to try to control our minds with his monotony and fairy dust. The Goros is about to cut off the merrills and boozos since their "influence" with the city is waning and gasping for air. Someone threw water on the witch, so they are much less useful these days.

BigPrune 6 years, 11 months ago

City Hall is filled with raging socialists and closet communists. Performance based employment for them would be better. Why hasn't City government decreased in size since there isn't anything going on here anymore? Why hasn't City Hall reflected the reality THEY created?

Socialism and Communism is a failed philosophy and the City of Lawrence government needs to stop trying to emulate these failed concepts.

tribalzendancer 6 years, 11 months ago

hey you guys should check out these videos on city-related solutions. I think you all will dig them. Let's cut the divisive arguing and focus on reaching common ground.

http://www.filmsforaction.org/films/?Subject=38

matahari 6 years, 11 months ago

congrat merrill, that's three times posting the exact same post (and counting)

canttakeitanymore 6 years, 11 months ago

Sven - why is it you have to keep posting the same information?

Lawrence - tourist trap - put the bong down and step away please.

a TIF doesn't get into your pocket book - how can it get into your pocket book when the taxes dont exist? Moreover, the school district actually makes money on a TIF, but you dont bother to really review the information or you would know that.

The School district is more at fault for the sprawl than the developers. The developers just build houses where people want them, which is close to a school.

Sven might agree with that except his background is in Architecture vs. Planning, im not exactly sure what his actual Degree is in though.

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence, once a nice town where most businesses served the people who live here, has become what is (rather crassly) called by southern Californians a "tourist trap."


Is anyone supposed to care what "southern Californians" call anything? How funny.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

"a TIF doesn't get into your pocket book - how can it get into your pocket book when the taxes dont exist?"

The taxes do exist which go back to the developer to help pay off whatever structure/project. When those taxes are not finding their way into the community tax revenue cookie jar the powers that be coming knocking on our doors looking for more taxes to replace those given away.

"Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)"

Well, what is tax increment financing? I'll tell you what it is. You go to the store with your goods, you pay for it at Wal-Mart, and there's a very good chance that that store has made a deal with the government that the sales taxes you are required to pay, that government requires you to pay, never go to the government. Instead, those sales taxes are kept by Wal-Mart and used to pay the cost of the store. And typically in those deals, the store is tax exempt, just like a church.

Now, there are two ways that it's important to think about this. One is, that means your kid's schools, your police department, your library, your parks are not getting that money. And you'll notice we keep saying we're starved for money. We're twice as wealthy as we were in 1980, but we've got to close hospitals, and we've got to close schools, and we don't have money for all sorts of things like after-school programs, even though we're twice as wealthy. The second thing to think about is, imagine that you own Amy Goodman's or Juan's department store across the street. You suddenly have to compete with people whom the government is giving a huge leg up on. You think you would go broke after a while? Well, in fact, you will.

http://i4.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Ralph Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

I feel the problems at City Hall, it being filled with communists and socialists (BigPrune (Anonymous) wrote: "City Hall is filled with raging socialists and closet communists..."), might start to be solved if we had a more representative city government.

I propose we change our form of government to a 'strong' elected mayor with more than a one year term, say a 4 year term. That way we won't have something like, "Well, I guess it's Sue's turn to be Mayor this year." (No offense, but she's it for now.) Additionally we will have genetic memory on the City Commission, rather than just in City Hall. We should also have districts from which commissioners are elected, rather than all of them being 'at large'. An even number of commissioners, with the mayor being a tie-breaker if necessary. The commissioners would be elected for 2 years.

We don't have a true democracy anyway, just a representative democracy. This method might get more even representation. The districts would be based on population density.

Anyone want to work with me to develop a proposal to go on the ballot to change our form of city government?


I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Among certain urban planning ciricles Lawrence is being held up as a model as one of the cities to follow of HOW NOT to grow a city. In spite of that the same practices still exist that has brought Lawrence this fame sponsored by the "anti economic growth machine" aka Chamber/ real estate/development/banking leadership.

Meanwhile Ralph Reed may be on to something...

While campaigning perhaps reveal any potential conflicts of interests related to the "anti economic growth machine" aka Chamber/ real estate/development/banking leadership.

Ralph Reed call a meeting. Announce time and place to detect level of interest.

  • How many reps should be considered?
  • How about reorganizing the planning commission?

canttakeitanymore 6 years, 11 months ago

Once again lets throw out arguments that arent relevant in Lawrence. DId Wal-mart get a TIF that we dont know about? did Home Depot? I will actually agree with you - WAL-MART doesn't need and/or didnt need a TIF.

There has been one TIF in Lawrence that I know of, and it has been a disaster because the building(s) weren't built, AND the developer did not agree to back the bonds. Now the city lets everyone park for free on the top level since it isn't even being used.

This is what happens when you allow people to negotiate that don't know what they are doing.

Our Former Mayor filed bankruptcy and blamed part of it on the term he served as a city commissioner. He filed for something like 20K, are you kidding me. This is one of the guys who allowed our city to waste how many MILLIONS on the WAL-MART mess, and he's filing for 20K in debt.

Next item.

Dacia McCabe Maher 6 years, 11 months ago

canttakeitanymore (Anonymous) says: "a TIF doesn't get into your pocket book - how can it get into your pocket book when the taxes dont exist? Moreover, the school district actually makes money on a TIF, but you dont bother to really review the information or you would know that. The School district is more at fault for the sprawl than the developers. The developers just build houses where people want them, which is close to a school."

Ah, it's the old "you can't tax it if it's not there" argument. This could be said about ANYTHING taxable. It doesn't fly.

So the school district will actually make money on this? Let's see your numbers on this huge windfall for the school district...and let's see how much it would make without this tax subsidy for a private development deal.

Dacia McCabe Maher 6 years, 11 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says: "what cool and others don't get is that this hotel,if it ever happens, should have been built 30 or 40 years ago. That should give everyone something to think about. Lawrence is at least a quarter of a century behind the rest of the country"

Really? I've been thinking that if this project is such a wonderful and lucrative idea, then build it. Pay for it and build it! Put your money where your mouth is. Don't ask the citizens of Lawrence to give up future revenue for something that will bring very little to ALL of Lawrence and so much to a very few.

erod0723 6 years, 11 months ago

People are stupid if they think the problems that are plaguing our city are just going to go away if we sweep them under the rug or discuss them only in private sessions. We need people who will stand up and tell us the truth. If the city and local economy are in dire shape, I want to know. Don't you? Don't you want to be able to recognize the problem and then be able to fight together as one community to correct it? We need leaders in this town this will serve Lawrence and its citizens with openness and integrity. I am sick of the leaders who are on the take by special interests.

toefungus 6 years, 11 months ago

Actually, leadership Lawrence style is not what we need. What we need is integrity.

canttakeitanymore 6 years, 11 months ago

From the TIF information on the City's web site: The School district retains 20 mils of Property tax which is not TIF eligible. per year.

NEW REVENUE TO THE PUBLIC: CITY COUNTY USD 497 Property Tax: $ 82,500.00 20-mills of property tax

Dacia McCabe Maher 6 years, 11 months ago

Anonymous user canttakeitanymore (Anonymous) says:

"From the TIF information on the City's web site: The School district retains 20 mils of Property tax which is not TIF eligible. per year. new revenue to the public: city county usd 497 Property Tax: $ 82,500.00 20-mills of property tax"

Is this NEW revenue or part of the pre-existing tax base that is frozen for the next 20-25 years and can't be touched? Remind me again, how much additional revenue will the city, county and usd 497 be giving up for this "public infrastructure"?

canttakeitanymore 6 years, 11 months ago

82,500 is what USD 497 will get per yr if its built vs. 18,200 today - so there is $64,300 +/- of NEW revenue that goes to the school district that is not used to repay the TIF - IF the project gets built.

IF i read the charts correctly, they are giving up 371K of revenue that will repay a portion of the improvements. the TIF will never generate enough money to pay for all of the improvements, which is why the developer has emphasized that they are making up any difference.

Dacia McCabe Maher 6 years, 11 months ago

canttakeitanymore:

Just want to make sure I understand. These numbers are based on yearly property taxes alone? How was the 18,200 number figured? Is the 371K lost revenue for usd 497 per year or for the 20-25 year duration of the TIF?

Re:improvements What falls under the category of improvements specifically? Would most of the area residents be willing to give up this revenue when made aware of these "necessary" improvements? In my opinion? I think not.

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