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Archive for Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Voters will decide property tax raise

January 29, 2008

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School board votes for election

The Lawrence school board will send voters to the polls in order to potentially raise taxes. Enlarge video

Lawrence school district voters will go to the polls April 1 to decide if the school board can have an extra $680,000 to spend, likely on teacher salaries and mental health services.

"I believe our public wants to compensate our staff better than they're doing now, and if they believe this is the only way we can do that, I think they will support this," said Craig Grant, school board vice president.

Grant and four other board members voted Monday night to have the election to decide on authorizing about a half-mill increase or 1 percent increase in the district's local option budget, which is funded by property taxes. Scott Morgan and Mary Loveland cast the dissenting votes.

State law allows school districts to levy property taxes to supplement the money they receive from the state. This is called the local option budget, or LOB. Lawrence's LOB is currently at 30 percent of its state general fund, and 31 percent is the maximum allowed.

The extra money would be allowed to fund teacher salaries, unlike capital outlay or bond money, which is allocated by law for capital building and facility projects. Proponents have said the projected $680,000 was badly needed, especially to keep pace with Johnson County school districts.

"If we delay this another year, it's lost ground. It's lost employees," John Mitchell said.

They also have mentioned using money to fund the WRAP program, which puts Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center clinical social workers in schools. Several years worth of grant funding ran out, and the school district, city and county split funding it last year.

Linda Robinson, the board president, has said based on current property valuations the owner of a $200,000 home would pay an extra $1.15 per month in property taxes. That's about $14 per year.

Morgan and Loveland were troubled the district would have to pay about $45,000 just to have the special election coupled with the risk it would fail.

"I think it can happen. I have a lot of faith in this community, but I think it will be a difficult sale and you don't get much in return," Morgan said.

"I disagree that it won't pass. I am fully confident that it will pass," Rich Minder said.

Morgan also mentioned waiting a few more months and also opening lines of communication with the City Commission about if and when it may try to float a sales tax option for voters.

Minder eventually invited the City Commission to join the district and add a sales tax initiative to the April 1 ballot.

Before that, Marlene Merrill and Minder had mentioned the district's board and the City Commission had not talked enough about child and family issues in recent joint meetings.

And Grant and Loveland also talked about a lack of confidence in working with the city.

"I think we're going to have to go it on our own," Grant said.

Comments

Steve Jacob 6 years, 10 months ago

Great, we get an election where 10% will vote.

busymom 6 years, 10 months ago

I wish the school board would have read their voter's comments on the previous article wishing that the vote would wait so 45,000 was not spent in creating this election. Most of us just wasted our time in commenting as they don't read this stuff.

Dacia McCabe Maher 6 years, 10 months ago

Concerned about tax increases? Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, you have a vote. Use it.

Here's another concern that has flown under the radar of Lawrence citizens. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that is intended to be used for economic development. There are no votes on this issue. It is up to a handful of elected city representatives to decide these tax issues for you. What has been a developer led process so far, projects like the Oread Inn will be quickly pushed through without adequate public consultation.

Lawrence has been ill informed about these kinds of subsidies. There are no policies in place to ensure that the benefits of approved projects will outweigh the loss of potential revenue. The loss of revenue that would be going to the city, county, and usd 497.

Before you start complaining about one tax increase that will max out the city's ability to raise funds for our schools, look at the potential revenue that will be given away without proper investigation to the potential benefits of the new businesses.

Concerned about economic development? Do you want to draw good companies to Lawrence that will contribute to our tax base AND have an overall benefit for our citizens?

Then come weigh in on Sat., February 9th, 10 a.m-noon, at the Lawrence Public Library (the big meeting room)

If you have any questions or comments, please email: ActUpLarry@gmail.com

superduper 6 years, 10 months ago

I have 2 children in school but we can only afford so much taxes. I think the School Board needs to work on their budget a little more. After giving umpteen billion dollars for school improvements I've had enough. Yes I think that the teachers are all underpaid but there is only so much I can do. There's got to be another way!

monkeyhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

Why doesn't the city throw in the sales tax issue, save a little money on elections, and get all this tax talk over with once and for all?

When we recall the "overage" of $2.4 million from the last bonds being used for something other than academic purposes, without a say from those who "donated" that money, I'm sure we will get that warm feeling to give even more.

salad 6 years, 10 months ago

Make em work with less like the rest of us have to.

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 10 months ago

Vote no to more taxes. Vote no to more government intrusion in your life. Vote no to the never ending cry for more of your money.

parsimoniousjayhawker 6 years, 10 months ago

I really like Craig Grant's comment:

"I believe our public wants to compensate our staff better than they're doing now, and if they believe this is the only way we can do that, I think they will support this," said Craig Grant, school board vice president.

Mr. Grant..I DON'T believe this..I agree with Superduper that the Board needs to work within their given budget. Prioritize what is important and cut what is not. Ask yourselves the one important question---What tools do our teachers need to effectively educate our children? If it is not on the list, then get rid of it. I can not ever remember a year when the Lawrence School Board has held the line w/ no tax increase.

I have two children in school and I fully support our teachers and paraprofessionals; however, Lawrencians are being taxed out of this city and now is the time to step up and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH... I urge everyone to exercise their right to vote come April 1st.

BigPrune 6 years, 10 months ago

$2.4 Million going to grass seed, now another $680,000 to increase teacher salaries? This school district, though claimed to be one of the best, is horrific. Just try to drop off or pick up your kid at school - there isn't ANY parking and if you pull up front just like the other parents, you might get a word from a bullying teacher if they know you. You would've figured some of the bond money could've gone to increasing the parking. But I must say, all of the new sh*t inside the schools is top notch high dollar with no expense spared.

What about the $9 million practice field?

akt2 6 years, 10 months ago

It will probably pass. The young professionals with kids and the registered voters that do not own property, will vote yes. Many homeowners will not bother to vote. That is how a 40+ million dollar school bond passed in my town this fall. If they will vote yes on 40 million, they will surely vote yes on $680,000.

OhHai 6 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, who wants good schools? I want the people in charge of teaching my children under compensated so they really don't give a crap about their job! Yeah! I can't understand why everyone gets so pissed about taxes for schools. Schools are good, wars are bad. When you live in a Democracy (which I think that we can agree this isn't a true Democracy) part of the deal is to pay taxes to pay for schools, roads, etc. And while I agree that a lot of that tax money is pissed away on studies and meetings and think tanks and more studies, fundamentally don't we all want kids to have access to decent public education?

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

If it's necessary, about $1.15 a month doesn't sound like much of an increase to me.

commuter 6 years, 10 months ago

The reason the last bond issue passed was because it was an all inclusive bond. The board and the administration created a bond that would include as many schools as possible. By structuring the bond this way, this help ensure it's passage.

I asked if they would consider splitting the bond issue into two issues? One for a new South and the rest. They would not split a bond. In my opinion they are afraid it would fail if we were given more options.

commuter 6 years, 10 months ago

It is not taxes for schools but it is the way the admin discusses issues. For example, they always say that it will only costs 14 dollars a year more. What Linda and the rest of the board and admin fail to clarify that it will only costs $14 more if the value of your home and the mill levy stays the same.

I do not know about you but I have not had a year were both the mill levy and the value of my home did not increase. I have had a year were the value of my home increased and the mill levy decreased.

In both of these scenarios, the taxes I pay to USD497 increased year after year. Not only did my taxes increase but I am having to pay more school fees every year.

take your pick USD497 and board but don't ask for more for both.

gccs14r 6 years, 10 months ago

If they wanted to look, there is probably $680k in annual waste in the admin building. I also agree that it's stupid to waste $45k on a special election when we have a regular election coming up. Maybe the board is counting on a low turnout to get the tax increase passed.

toefungus 6 years, 10 months ago

I am sick of taxes, and believe me, they are trying to sneak this in before property values go down in the coming years. Then they can cry for more again due to falling home prices (if your value goes down, they have to raise the levy to keep even). Schools are becoming the most important thing to check when you decide to buy a home. Not that they are good, but how much are they going to cost. Mark my word, the taxes in Lawrence is fast becoming the biggest impediment to growth. Don't just vote no, but call the school board members and raise hell about budgeting and good use of resources.

Lisia 6 years, 10 months ago

How many teachers could get raises if they completely got rid of one or two admins in the district?

Bud Stagg 6 years, 10 months ago

People, don't beat up the local school district. I work with schools all over the country. Lawrence is one of the best run districts in the state. It's not perfect but you don't realize how good you have it.

It's the state that is chopping their funds and not giving them what they need to keep up with basic cost increases. Most of your taxes go to the state then to the district.

This is one of the few taxes that goes straight to the district. Support your local schools, bitch at the state.

salad 6 years, 10 months ago

" Lawrence is one of the best run districts in the state. It's not perfect but you don't realize how good you have it."

Well, isn't that comparing rotting meat to a turd and saying you should be glad you have rotting meat. EVERY district is top heavy with fantastically overpaid, useless administrators who contribute nothing to your childs education. If all the administrators disappeared tomorrow, none of the teachers and students would ever know the difference.

texburgh 6 years, 10 months ago

When to vote yes: 1. When negotiations guarantee that hte teachers will get a percentage raise equal to or better than the percentage increase in state funding and 2. When negotiations guarantee that every dime of this additional money goes to teacher salaries and 3. When the board takes the $2.4 million "savings" from the bonds and sets it aside for repair and maintenance of classrooms.

Until then, no - don't trust Weseman.

tvc 6 years, 10 months ago

Salad, I would have noticed because my job would have been much better!

Teachers are not underpaid. Most teachers only work 180-190 days a year!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

$45,000 cost for the election is way too close to 10% of what the BOD is asking for. I'm all for an increase in salaries but $45,000 is not a good way to spend money when budgets are tight. There is an election sometime this year so why not piggyback?

salad 6 years, 10 months ago

"Teachers are not underpaid. Most teachers only work 180-190 days a year!"

True, but that's not the whole story. How many of us could survive if our jobs were cut back to 190 days/yr.? The problem is that finding another decent paying job for the couple months there is no teaching is impossible. I suppose that's why lots of teachers end up doing the same jobs as the kids do during the summer just to get by. THIS is one more reason why we need to move to year round schools.

tvc 6 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I do survive on less and work more hours. I am currently working more for less because that is how much I disliked teaching.

Other careers work more hours and receive more pay to compensate for that time. A career in teaching does not make a person rich, but it does give a person a lot more free time than the average working person.

salad 6 years, 10 months ago

"Kids need the summer off, just like most of the European countries"

False. European countries have year round schools. They get a 5 week summer break and a 3-4 evenly spaced week-long breaks during the rest of the year. This is what is suggested when we talk about "year round schools". It isn't like my job where you only get 2 weeks off each year. Kids do not, in fact, need the summer off. This is just BS to continue the status quo. On the other hand, europeans have pretty high taxes, but you get what you pay for.

monkeyspunk 6 years, 10 months ago

Salad, if my job was cut back to 190 days and I got paid what I do now I would jump for absolute joy.

Check the USD 497 pay estimator, out of college, no experience makes over $32K in Lawrence. That isn't much less than what I make and without the summer break.

We need to find a candidate who will abolish the Department of Education. $70 Billion budget on a department that doesn't really do anything but hand out money! Kansas has 1% of the total US population, that means our cut, per capita is $630 Million! Use THAT money for improved classrooms, increased salaries, and year round school!

monkeyspunk 6 years, 10 months ago

Jack,

there are many USD's in the US that are already on the "year round" schedule and they do fine. They love their mid term breaks which usually fall when the weather is nice.

Kids can still do the things kids do in the afternoons and evenings and weekends. I rarely had ball practice before 5 PM in the summer, too HOT! Games were always in the evenings and the weekends, to work around parents schedules.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

"Kids need the summer off, just like most of the European countries"

False. European countries have year round schools. They get a 5 week summer break and a 3-4 evenly spaced week-long breaks during the rest of the year. This is what is suggested when we talk about "year round schools". It isn't like my job where you only get 2 weeks off each year. Kids do not, in fact, need the summer off. This is just BS to continue the status quo. On the other hand, europeans have pretty high taxes, but you get what you pay for." ======= Children become bored with too much time off. As home schoolers all year long is part of the deal. We may take a week off from time to time however the children basically demand they want to get back to schooling. Wherever we go so go the school books etc etc. "Vacations" are field trips such as the Louisville Slugger factory,Crayola factory, Waxman's Candle,political events,Denver Mint, native ruins in New Mexico,hot springs in Washinton State,camping and hiking,mountain bike competition in Vermont,arboretums etc etc. ==== $45,000 is too much to spend for any USD 497 issue. Could that fund 6-9 pay increases this year?

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