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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

JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

Home schooling is entirely different because a lot of home schooling takes the kids interests into consideration and you can plan activities outside the home around that. The only thing year around school gives you in an institutional setting are kids who can be on time and learn to do things the way the textbook says. No future Edisons coming from that. Not only the list of countries listed above listing that in fact not all European countries are year around but here is how the Swiss do it and I believe they top the list for many standard of living successes- School holidays
Pupils have about twelve weeks of vacation spread over the whole year; six weeks in the summer, from July to mid August, two weeks during the first half of October, one to two weeks around the Christmas and new year period, and one to two weeks in the spring around Easter. In addition, depending upon the particular school year, one-week school trips and ski trips are also organised. http://www.basel.ch/en/education/public-sector_schools

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 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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busymom 6 years, 2 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.

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swan_diver 6 years, 2 months ago

Put both a property tax increase and a sales tax increase on the ballot in November -- unless you think you'll have a better chance to pull the wool over the eyes of 10% of the voters, as opposed to the 55% who will turn out to make sure that the criminal Bush administration gets drowned in a bath tub.

With the best political and economic leadership available in Kansas at our service on the school board and at city hall -- I have faith these folks will do the right thing.

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justfornow 6 years, 2 months ago

ibroke (Anonymous) says:

boy it seems like people bitch about getting a tax refund and then bitch about getting a tax increase

I think your confused ibroke, that refund was your money to begin with. It's Un-American to endorse a tax increase, ya big dummy. Especially when it happens 47 times a year. Enough already.

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ibroke 6 years, 2 months ago

boy it seems like people bitch about getting a tax refund and then bitch about getting a tax increase

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JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

There are many activities in the summer that don't revolve around sports and let kids explore on their terms. The Swedes seem to do fine with even less educational requirements then we have. The answer isn't making the kids fit their parents work schedule and become cogs, the future good little corporate employee, but to let the minds of the future explore without the the drill sergeant. They'll have plenty of time in the future for that. If we are going to be an inventive country in the future we can't expect it to come from telling them what we want out of them.

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monkeyspunk 6 years, 2 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.

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monkeyspunk 6 years, 2 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!

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JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

Salad, I guess you may want to keep them in school year round so you can bore them into a good cog. Watch the clock, become a machine, and we'll take summer away so you don't even think about doing your own thing. Should they wear jackboots too?

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JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

Germany Although the school year is ten months long and the summer vacation period only lasts about six weeks, students get many more holidays and short vacations during the school year than do U.S. students. (School days per year - Germany: 220; U.S.: 180). http://www.german-way.com/educ.html

England and Wales Most schools in England and Wales operate a three-term school year, with an extended summer break. Whichever system is in use, however, all schools must open for 190 days a year. http://www.tda.gov.uk/Recruit/lifeasatea...

Ireland 3.2.2.2 Length of school year (in days) and day (in hours) The school year comprises 183 days (September to the end of June) for primary children. Schools open on five days a week (Monday to Friday) http://www.inca.org.uk/1842.html

Sweden Compulsory education in Sweden takes the form of a nine year comprehensive school for children aged 7-16. The school year is divided into two terms, comprising in total of 40 weeks with not less than 178 school days (Monday-Friday) and 12 weeks of holiday. http://www.sverigeturism.se/smorgasbord/...

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 2 months ago

Vote yes on this bond issue. Raise the taxes as high as possible and continue to run business off. Folks, take a new approach on this. Keep raising them until the families leave and the schools are vacant. As for property values dropping, the sales price will drop but thecounty will not lower valuations. In another month, new valuations will be out for which the new taxes will be figured those that will be paid, maybe, in December of 2008. Expect a 2 or 3% increase, after all, Marion Johnson will tell us the market is slow but Lawrence is a good place to buy yet. The realtors are touting that, why wouldn't Marion Johnson. Watch and see if your home valuation is lowered. Not!

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salad 6 years, 2 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.

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Agnostick 6 years, 2 months ago

While we're on public schools, teacher salaries etc., this was a pretty informative article in Monday's Cap-J:

http://www.cjonline.com/stories/012808/loc_241174151.shtml

As you can see, even in the area of NBPTS certification, Kansas has a bit of homework to do.

Do I have a dog in this hunt? I do!

My wife achieved NBPTS certification in 2002!

Yes, the process is as brutal as the article describes. You have to be "capturing" your material on the fly, throughout the school year. Then everything is assembled into a series of envelopes--there are cover sheets for the cover sheets (and probably a TPS Report in there, as well). The envelopes and cover sheets all have to have these bar code stickers affixed to them. Then you stack the envelopes, in order, into the box. (You get your empty box and instruction packet in September; the box is due back at the NBPTS center sometime in April, I think.)

The day before it was due, I took the morning off from work, just so I could go to the nearest FedEx and personally hand the box across the counter. :o

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tvc 6 years, 2 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.

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JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

Year around school for convenience? No, that is a myth is not worth exploring. Kids need the summer off, just like most of the European countries. We need the time when they are at schooled used more for teaching and less for social experiences.

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salad 6 years, 2 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.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 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?

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tvc 6 years, 2 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!

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 2 months ago

For all the whining going on here, why will turnount be....oh maybe 15% of the public????

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texburgh 6 years, 2 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.

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Defender 6 years, 2 months ago

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

I'll bitch at anyone that wants to raise or create new taxes, period. I do not care who it is, I do not have anything more to pay.

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salad 6 years, 2 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.

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JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

I'd have a hard time complaining to the state when we in Lawrence are whining because we don't have every little perk that the JOCO school districts have while out west they are closing schools and making kids commute miles to go to the schools that remain open. Good God, let's stop being so greedy! So we don't have everything blue valley has, who cares?! We certainly have more then many others in the state.

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Bud Stagg 6 years, 2 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.

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Lisia 6 years, 2 months ago

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

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toefungus 6 years, 2 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.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 2 months ago

Your new valuation is coming out soon. So the $14 is bigger than what the school board talks about. Every bond issue is equated with food. Give up a cheeseburger, Erv Hodges said (apparently he didnt'!!) give up a pizza some momma said once. give up soda pop, give up Ensure is next. What is Mangino giving up to eat. What is Loveland giving up? What is Linda robinson going to give up...or will the doctor raise his fee?

Vote yes on the bond issue and raise taxes, so landlords can get rich, and homeowners pay more to live in their houses, therefore, Lawrence is a progressive nice community with every child above average. kinda like Lake Wobegon.

This place is extraordiary for sure mr. Dever. and some of the most extraordianary are right on the school board. Will the J/W endorse this in the next saturday column, will the chamber endorse it and how about the dude at Goldmakers,,maybe Downtown Lawrence will go for it and the owners of commercial will pay more than the homeowners,,,raise rents downtown, good for the landllordes.,,make those greedy landlords pay whilst the homeowners do also. Vote yes.

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75x55 6 years, 2 months ago

A 'voucher vote' is looking more likely with every tax-bloating proposal offered.... Lawrence school board reminds me a bit of Tom Hanks' character in 'Castaway' - making more rope that will eventually hang itself with.

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gccs14r 6 years, 2 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.

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commuter 6 years, 2 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.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 2 months ago

Let the slumlords pay more taxes. They won't mind. They can pass it on to the renters. After all, who wants a town with poor schools and underpaid teachers. That Holroyd who complained about the school district is smart with all those hundreds of properties. He can raise rents with this bond issue. It's a good thing for the landlords and not to mention the homeowners who will pay more for a quality of life issue.

Vote yes on this issue. Teach these people a lesson who complain. Make them pay!

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Defender 6 years, 2 months ago

"I can't understand why everyone gets so pissed about taxes for schools."

Because, not only is it used improperly in many cases, but people cannot afford any more taxes. How much does it take to get that through peoples minds? We cannot afford any more taxes, period. Find a way to make the money go farther, make things more efficient.

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Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 2 months ago

While $1.15 EXTRA each month in taxes is not much, there's a bigger principle here: The school board needs to live within its budget. The rest of us must.

I'd love to enjoy ribeye steak 4 or 5 times a week, but the reality of my budget says that I can't. I'd love to have someone come in and clean my house twice a week, but the reality of my budget says that I can't.

I also agree with JackRipper: "More money for the school district does not equal better education." Use what you've got!!

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JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

OhHai, oh yeah, money will be the answer to better education. If you haven't noticed the Lawrence school district is not hurting like small school districts out west and I'll bet you there are a lot of kids getting a better education out there. More money for the school district does not equal better education.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 2 months ago

This will pass and the only one who will publicly complain about the school district is Holroyd. He signs his name but after all, he is upset because he has hundreds of properties and doesnt want to pay more taxes. How foolish of him. He is lucky to have Mastercraft and First Management fronting for him, after all who would want to have their own name associated with hundreds of properties. Vote yes on this bond issue and make the renters pay more and pass on the costs also to the homeowners. Teach these people a lesson who complain about paying more taxes. This bond issue should pass and the city can at the same time put a sales tax vote on also. Vote for more sales tax. Drive up the costs of goods to repair homes and apartments. Pass the costs on to the renters and home owners. Teach these people who complain about taxes a lesson. Make them pay!

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commuter 6 years, 2 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.

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jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

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

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OhHai 6 years, 2 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?

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akt2 6 years, 2 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.

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Defender 6 years, 2 months ago

Craig Grant, you can shove it up your rear end. Arrogant jerk, and a fool to boot. You should be run out of town, you ignorant moron. People cannot afford anymore, period

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JackRipper 6 years, 2 months ago

This is hilarious! Milking it for all they can because they know that money is available if we vote on it and doing it for salaries so naturally we'll feel bad if we don't approve it. Wonder why salaries weren't included earlier when the cash cow came to town. One thing to remember is Weseman went to Topeka to try and get this money without our vote so he doesn't even feel it is something we should have the right to vote on! Exactly who teaches these people budget analysis?!

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Dollypawpaw 6 years, 2 months ago

I thought the lottery would supply all the money the government schools would ever need.

What did you bums do with all the money?

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BigPrune 6 years, 2 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?

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parsimoniousjayhawker 6 years, 2 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.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 2 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.

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salad 6 years, 2 months ago

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

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monkeyhawk 6 years, 2 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.

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superduper 6 years, 2 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!

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Dacia McCabe Maher 6 years, 2 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

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope the Chamber of Commerce backs this so they can continue to drive business away. And with the support of the group that continues to meet about affordable housing, they surely will want this to pass. Boog will help them to pass this, since he wants affordable housing. And all the teachers will want this to pass, so they can get another raise. Vote yes on this bond issue and support local idiocy. Keep the local socialists at work. Vote yes on this issue to get rents up and home mortgages increased. This is a good deal, it should be done every year. Personally, I don't beleve Loveland and Morgan are reall against it, it is one of those deals where someone has to vote No to appease those who don't want the bond issue. It is politics at work. Vote yes and get it over with.

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Steve Jacob 6 years, 2 months ago

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

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