Archive for Thursday, July 3, 2008

City manager proposes hold-the-line budget

Bus system in peril if voters don’t approve sales tax hike in November

Bleak budget times mean tough choices for all of us - and it's no different for Lawrence city officials.

July 3, 2008, 5:35 p.m. Updated July 3, 2008, 6:06 p.m.

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City Manager David Corliss presented a recommended 2009 city budget on Thursday that bets heavily on a new sales tax to save the city's public transit system, and largely bets against a quick turnaround in the local economy.

Corliss' proposed budget recommends a slight decrease - 0.1 of 1 mill - in the city's property tax rate, but stresses the importance of two new sales taxes that Corliss said voters must consider in November.

The first sales tax would be a 0.2 percent tax to fund public transportation, while the second would be a 0.3 percent tax to provide additional funding for street and infrastructure maintenance.

If voters fail to approve the new taxes, Corliss said the future of key city services will be "bleak."

"We will be substantially behind where we need to be," Corliss said. "We won't have the revenue to provide service at the level citizens expect."

The stakes are highest for the city's public bus system. Corliss' recommended budget does not include a contingency to keep even a limited public transit system operating if voters fail to approve the transit sales tax.

The city currently spends about $1 million in property taxes for public transit service. Under Corliss' plan, all of that money in 2009 would be shifted to other areas, primarily city employee compensation and health insurance increases.

Corliss said his staff will put together data that shows how much it would cost to run a more limited public transit system if voters reject the sales tax increase. But Corliss stressed even a limited system would require either a property tax increase or a major reduction in other city services. Corliss said he would be hard-pressed to recommend a property tax increase for transit.

"If the community doesn't support transit through a new sales tax, it is fair to raise the question of how much money we should be putting into that service," Corliss said.

If voters don't approve the street maintenance sales tax - which is expected to be separate from the transit vote - street maintenance levels at best will remain at status quo levels, Corliss said.

"We would take care of the streets we could still save, and the rest wouldn't be in very good shape," Corliss said.

The tight budget times are coming as a result of the city's once rock-solid real estate market feeling the effects of a national downturn in housing prices.

The city traditionally has been able to count on a multi-million-dollar boost in property tax collections due to rising residential real estate values. For 2009, though, many properties are expected to see no increase or experience a slight decline in value. The city's assessed valuation is expected to grow only by 0.84 percent.

What's worse, Corliss said, is that he doesn't see a turnaround anytime soon. Property tax values have been growing at a slower rate for each of the past four years.

"I'm very hesitant to think the value of property overall is going to appreciate substantially," Corliss said.

He said he's also worried about the impact of rising oil prices on city operations, and is concerned about a proposal by Westar Energy to increase electric rates by 15 percent to 20 percent in 2009.

City commissioners will discuss the proposed budget at their Tuesday evening meeting, and will have a major budget study session on July 14. Commissioner must approve a budget by mid-August.

Commissioners received the recommended budget late Thursday afternoon, but it was receiving some early praise. Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he thought Corliss was on the right track with budget. He said the document definitely puts a heavy emphasis on the need for a sales tax, but recognizes the tough economic times with a slight reduction in the mill levy.

"That's recognition that we're trying very hard to manage with the resources we have, but there are issues we're asking the voters to decide," Chestnut said.

Other items in Corliss' recommended budget include:

¢ A proposal to expand the city's rental registration program, and increase the fee landlords must pay annually. Corliss is proposing that any rental unit 50 years old or older must be registered by the city and undergo a regular city code inspection. Currently, only rental properties that are in single-family neighborhoods are required to be registered. The new system would require many properties in the Oread neighborhood to be registered and inspected. Oread leaders had asked for the change.

To pay for the expansion, which is expected to add 3,000 new rental units to the registration program, Corliss is proposing the annual registration fee increase from $25 to $40.

¢ A water rate increase of 12 percent. Expanding the city's Clinton Water Treatment plant is part of the reason for the rate increase, Corliss said. Sewer rates are not expected to increase, Corliss said. Overall, he said the total amount people pay for both water and sewer should increase by about 5 percent.

¢ A 4 percent increase in trash rates, to cover rising fuel costs.

¢ Smaller pay raises for city employees than in past years. Corliss' recommended budget sets aside $880,000 for employee raises. In 2008, the city is expected to spend about $1.3 million in employee raises. Corliss also recommends the city largely eliminate cost of living increases and instead provide raises based on merit and performance evaluations.

Comments

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

If the sales tax initiative does not pass, it will be difficult, if not impossible to meet the needs noted above. We will continue to do the best we can with the resources provided however, Lawrence's infrastructure needs will continue to fall behind. Area communities have voted increases in sales taxes for infrastructure needs, Lawrence is deserving of the same.(Plenty of money for empTy buses, art in the park, city employee raises, your bills are going up, your taxes are going up, we have a new "green" cemetery, buying a new depot, still paying for business parks, looking to clean up Farmland, buying fire sprinklers for downtown merchants, and hiring a new auditor who can't be found, Sorry we just can't fix your streets and sidewalks, unless you pay more in taxes.)http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

dandelion 6 years, 10 months ago

Why isn't there advertising on buses, like in other cities and like KU on Wheels? Is it because they want the T to fail? What a crock.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 10 months ago

The city manager is the culprit here, you folks who advocate contacting the city commissioners, forget it. Those people are brain dead. They do nothing. But rubberstamp the plans of the "city staff" I know. You can contact them with your concerns and ideas and they will ignore you completelly. Even on matters of illegal activity and misconduct with city employees. I know. They are the most useless group of people you will ever encounter. I know. Just try to get them to respond to your concerns and take some corrective action. They will completely ignore you. I know. They are useless, brain-dead and spineless. I know.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 10 months ago

Dear City Manager: I am being taxed out of town already... where do you propose I come up with the extra money? Or for that matter, where will you come up with it> let me guess, a raise?

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

JACLATTI (Just Another Chad Lawhorn Article Touting Tax Increases). The "hold the line budget" of this City Commission requires an increase in taxes and increased spending? We need to fire the whole lot of them and try again till we find a group that "hold the line" means no more taxes and living within our means. Cut the corporate subsidy to MV Transportation, layoff City Staff, whatever it takes. Where in this "hold the line budget" is there an increase in fares for riders of the empTy?????

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone see any possible savings in that list? Anyone? See the City Commission, managers, and auditor just cant seem to find any savings there, nope not a thing and they are asking for your suggestions. Feel free to call or write them your ideas.Mayor - Michael Dever, (785) 865-4202 mdever@sunflower.comVice Mayor - Robert Chestnut, (785) 764-3220 robchestnut@sunflower.comCity Commissioner - Mike Amyx, (785) 842-9425 mikeamyx515@hotmail.comCity Commissioner - Sue Hack, (785) 842-6608 suehack@sunflower.comCity Commissioner - Dennis "Boog" Highberger, (785) 843-0995 boog@lawrence.ixks.comCity Manager - Dave Corliss, (785) 832-3403 dcorliss@ci.lawrence.ks.us href="http://www.ci.lawrence.ks.us/city_contactsSorry">http://www.ci.lawrence.ks.us/city_contactsSorry, the City auditor was SOOOO busy, didn't have time to put his name, number or email online. He's a busy, busy, bee!

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

So, does anyone see any possible savings in that budget? Anyone? See the City Commission, managers, and auditor just cant seem to find any savings there, nope not a thing and they are asking for your suggestions. By the way, if you don't agree to their sales tax to pay for the empTy, they WILL take it in property taxes and not fix your streets! Deal or No Deal? Feel free to call or write them your ideas.Mayor - Michael Dever, (785) 865-4202 mdever@sunflower.comVice Mayor - Robert Chestnut, (785) 764-3220 robchestnut@sunflower.comCity Commissioner - Mike Amyx, (785) 842-9425 mikeamyx515@hotmail.comCity Commissioner - Sue Hack, (785) 842-6608 suehack@sunflower.comCity Commissioner - Dennis "Boog" Highberger, (785) 843-0995 boog@lawrence.ixks.comCity Manager - Dave Corliss, (785) 832-3403 dcorliss@ci.lawrence.ks.us href="http://www.ci.lawrence.ks.us/city_contac:Sorry">http://www.ci.lawrence.ks.us/city_contac:Sorry, the City auditor was SOOOO busy, didn't have time to put his name, number or email online. He's a busy, busy, bee calculating merit increase and cost of living increases!

trollkiller 6 years, 10 months ago

Marion doesn't even live in Lawrence His input has no value (you might call it bankrupt)

madameX 6 years, 10 months ago

Gas is approaching four dollars a gallon, there is starting to be real economic incentive to use public transit and people are saying "go ahead, scrap the bus system?" Great idea! It may be a luxury now, but it could be a necessity in the not-too-distant future.

OnlyTheOne 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm with Cowboy.As an aside regarding the "M-T" busses. I waited as a bus waited at the 23 st Walgreens at approximately 3:40pm Thursday while at least 10 people, and this is a low estimate, trailed out of the cool of the store to get on the bus - that's far from MT at one stop. Too bad none of 'em had any inclination to hurry or even to be prepared to board the bus when it arrived. That last second of cool air was more important that traffic or fuel.

dandelion 6 years, 10 months ago

OnlytheOne,Buses are required to remain at a scheduled stop until the published departure time. Also the buses are nicely air conditioned, so that's not what slowed down the people. I'm not sure why they took their time, but it wasn't the air conditioning.Again, how much money could be made in advertising on the bus? It may not pay for all the costs, but it would certainly offset the expenses. As madameX pointed out, more and more people will be using public transportation. We need to look at solutions to keep it going. It will cost a lot more to recreate it when if becomes vital than if we keep it running..

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

If you liked, "City manager proposes hold-the-line budget," you might enjoy these other articles from the last year by Chad Lawhorn, exclusively from the LJW Online!City wants to buy depotSales tax could fund street rebuildingLawrence moves to annex land near LecomptonLarger sales tax weighed for transitCity to consider next move on industrial siteCity explores creating 'green cemetery' optionCity sales tax proposal gaining favorHeart of city getting brunt of roadworkCity considers tax for TBus system's fate may rest on sales taxNew city auditor seeking savingsCity gives early OK to homeless shelter planTransit system costs to rise by $1 millionCity manager builds plans amid troubling economic outlookStagnant housing market strain on city's budgetBuilding not expected to rebound in 2008New mayor urges fiscal restraintCity now official cemetery ownerCensus shows growth slowingCity weighs cost to clean up Farmland propertyAG: No conflict of interest by Hack or JohnsonCity growth forces changeCity about to run out of road saltAuditor ready to begin critiquing city operationsLawrence hires auditorSluggish sales taxes may spur more city cutsSchool ballot may be costly to city$732 million in road projects needed by 2030City manager turns down raiseAirport business park plans in holding pattern indefinitelyHack seeks guidance on ethics issuesEthics commission says mayor can serve on boardCity leaders receive open meetings lessonCity commission to apply for grant to pay for busesCity's job focus 'behind the times'Sewer plant may go to back burnerOfficials to take refresher course on open meetingsDeciphera backs out of East Hills expansionDeciphera backs off East Hills expansion

Godot 6 years, 10 months ago

Fix the streets, repair public buildings, flush the poop, clean the water, keep police and fire fighters on guard; pick up the trash.Art programs, grants to non-profit organizations, grants for neighborhood associations, funding of eco-devo via Chamber of Commerce, parks and rec exercise programs and games, the T, Eagle Bend, even the pools, are not necessary. They are luxuries. The city does not have any room in its budget for luxuries at this point.Corliss is making tiny, little baby steps. He needs to take bigger strides and offer up at least 20% cuts in administration before he suggests even a minimal tax increase on the citizens of Lawrence.

Godot 6 years, 10 months ago

My income is based, entirely, on commissions from products sold, and rental income from lodging provided to, citizens of Douglas County.My income is not increasing this year; why should I suffer an increase in taxes of at least 10 per cent, as projected, to provide a salary increase for government employees while I receive less in services?

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Budget Development GoalsA successful budget is well calibrated to reflect the goals of the City Commission. Our goals in the budget preparation process are to ensure that the process is transparent, accessible, and understandable to the City Commission and the public. Recommended goals as we began preparation of the 2009 budget include:¢ Given revenue challenges, strive to maintain 2008 budget levels for expenditures (notice, no reduction).¢ Strive to make progress on Commission priorities as they are defined (stuff we want to buy).¢ Continue to reduce expenditures as possible (we just can't find a thing to reduce!)As the budget has been developed, we've also focused on:¢ Providing a recommended general fund budget which balances projected expenditures to projected revenues (thus increased taxes)¢ Continuing to focus on maintaining quality services for residents (our domestic partners registry and empTy buses the best in class)¢ Maintaining existing infrastructure (you want the potholes filled, give us more taxes)¢ Providing for appropriate upward movement in employee compensation while emphasizing pay for performance (screw you, we are getting ours and you can't fire us!)http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

(Now for my favorite part!)Our recent citizen survey indicated that street maintenance was among the highest priorities of our citizens this sales tax will provide the resources to "put our money where our mouth is."(Ummmm, Dave, Commissioners, ummmm you already have our money! We wanted you to spend it on roads you morons and reduce the other crap!)If the sales tax initiative for infrastructure and equipment is approved, the community will be able to make substantial progress on a backlog of needed infrastructure and equipment improvements. These improvements include: the North Lawrence Maple Street stormwater pump project; the Burroughs Creek rail/trail, fire apparatus, substantial additional investments in residential street maintenance and sidewalk gap.(Isn't this what you were hired to do in the first place? Why is the first thing we want, the last thing on your priorites. How is it increased pay for city employees is above street repair. You all need to fired!)http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

haywire (Anonymous) says: "Our observations reveal one of the most mismanaged cities in Kansas. Inflating property values to fund local operations or constantly increasing fees is a sign of long time bad decisions likely dating back 15 years or more resulting in no way to support the city in the fundamental manner. A most obvious source to this problem typically is at the top where policy is set and city growth is directed."Ya think? That is what you get when you live in a town where the top 4 of 5 top employers are supported directly or indirectly via taxpayers. "Growth" requires more taxes."Do Lawrence voters pay attention or not? The current five city commissioners are taking Lawrence down the path to a stagnant economy. Old ideas with like decisions on growth can set Lawrence back 50 years."They drank the KoolAid in the 60's and just couldn't get enough.

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Energy Conservation:Our Climate Protection Task Force continues their work at examining what our community and City government can do to respond to our changing climate and continuing environmental concerns. (We have a Climate Protection Task Force! We have no idea if it's Global Warming, the New Ice Age, or just plain Climate Change we are protecting, but darn if we aren't well paid to do it!)While the City has made progress on a number of energy conservation measures in the past, most of our work has been patchwork and without publicity. Upon the conclusion of our budget preparations, staff plans to make energy conservation among City operations a top management priority. (It has never occurred to us that running dozens of empTy diesel buses might not be such a great ecological or economic idea, but we are determined to study it.)We are already gathering information on the possible use of performance contracting to maximize any City expenditures in this area. We know that it may take City funds in order to save City funds.(We are looking for consultants at this very moment who will for a very large fee demonstrate that running empTy buses makes good ecological and economic "cents.")Upon the conclusion of our budget preparations, staff plans to make energy conservation among City operations a top management priority. (Gee, I wish there were some huge waste of diesel fuel we could find that we could focus on, that would be great!) Examples of other program enhancements in the 2009 recommended budget include installation of VMWare, server consolidation, and creation of an onsite wellness clinic. Staff will also continue to explore other program enhancements such as document management and workflow, as well as false alarm fees for fire alarms. We will continue to look for opportunities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our organization while improving the quality of life enjoyed by Lawrence citizens.(Other than raising fees and a new wellness center, we have no idea how we can protect the climate. I hope the climate takes advantage of our wellness center, it will be so kewl! I am sure my quality of life will improve even if the taxpayers or the climate doesn't.)http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

repaste 6 years, 10 months ago

City out of control, seems all agree. Tax abatements, public works, on and on. Sales tax is a regressive tax - Mom dad and 3 kids will pay more tax than upper-middle income couple no kids, they consume more. The T is part of our future, lose it and it will be another nail in this great city's coffin. Wake up commish's dont let the admin.'s run us into the ground.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 10 months ago

I use to be in the transit business, and you can't waste anything. After calculating the cost per revenue hour/ boardings per revenue hour = excess of $43.00 per boarding. This city is actually thinking about bigger buses..... That is par for the course.... Maybe they will hire a new consultant to tell them what they want to hear.,,, consultant number 14.... close to a milliion dollars to NOT see the obvious. By the way the $43.00 per boarding, does not include the ADA mandated demand response ( door to door service) . That will shock us.

Rationalanimal 6 years, 10 months ago

Try this for a completely radical idea--scrap the public transit system that has never paid for itself, and forego the tax increase in a time when people are really truly, honest to gosh hurting, as a result of the insane environmentalist conservation energy policies. We're all going to a system where we either walk or ride a horse, so, the earlier you get folks hoofing, the better. Idiots. Stop listening and handing your money/labor to these Marxists.

pace 6 years, 10 months ago

As long as the city doesn't repair or build any roads, if people want to drive, let them hire contractors and build their own darn roads, same with those sewer lines , if they flush let them run a ditch like we use to when times were simpler.

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Here is some highlights from the budget. Largest employer is Government and government enterprises 25.8% of all employment.Personal Income per Capita $24,061Median Household Income $35,989Median Family Income $55,537Top 10 Largest Employers - Product - EmployeesThe University of Kansas - Education - 9,396Vangent - Information Services - 1,800Lawrence Public Schools - Education - 1,710City of Lawrence City - Government Services - 1,250Lawrence Memorial Hospital - Health Services - 1,200Hallmark Cards, Inc. - Social Expression Products - 814The World Company - Information Services - 600Amarr Garage Doors - Manufacturing - 588K-Mart Distribution Center - Distribution - 452DCCCA Center - Health Services - 425http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

Godot 6 years, 10 months ago

Sigmund, fantastic translation! Kudos.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 10 months ago

freshpowder, I have been aware of the shortcomings of the current chief of police and the absolute intransigence of the current city commission in regards to an event I am awere of. But if you have proof of your assertion, I would like you to provide it. I tried to provide the city commission with evidence of misconduct and was roundly ignored.

BigPrune 6 years, 10 months ago

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) Jaleel White, who played 'nerdy' neighbor Steve Urkel on "Family Matters" found dead Monday. He was 31 years old.White was pronounced dead on arrival after admission to an LA hospital early Monday morning. The death is being investigated as a suicide.Born Jaleel Ahmad White, he began his career at the age of three acting in television commercials, before landing guest spots on shows such as "The Jeffersons," "Goodtimes," "The Cosby's," and cult classic feature film, "Fear of the Black Hat." It was in 1989 that White landed the role that would make him famous, playing wacky neighbor 'Steve Urkel' on the ABC program "Family Matters."Following the cancellation of "Family Matters" in 1997, friends claim White became obsessed with the character, and grew despondent, despite further successes as star and producer of the UPN sitcom "Grownups", and as a writer for Salon.com. Neighbor and friend, Bradley Spencer alerted police after hearing what he described as "a loud bang" coming from White's Los Angeles apartment.Authorities state that upon entering the home they discovered a young male with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Also found was a note, which simply read, "Did I do that?" a popular catchphrase from the show."Jaleel was an uncommonly good man, an exceptional role model and a great comedic actor," said William Bickley, who created the series, and Thomas L. Miller, one of the executive producers, in a joint statement."We feel privileged to have known him and worked with him. He'll be missed and remembered every day by his many, many friends," they said.Actress Kellie Williams -- Laura Winslow on the series -- described White as a consummate professional actor. "Everyone adored him," she said."We have all lost a dear, dear brother," said Reginald Vel Johnson, who played Carl Winslow. White, an African American, was an only child, and is survived by his companion, Jared Fogel, and "cousins, aunts, uncles, and wonderful friends" Bickley said.

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Some of this increase can also be attributed to charges for service. The recommended budget contains adjustments to rates that customers will pay for some City provided services in 2009. (Let's see how they are going to "Hold the Line" for Lawrence taxpayers...)¢ Solid Waste - I am recommending an increase in sanitation rates which generally averages four percent. This increase is attributed to the increase in fuel costs, capital outlay for equipment replacements, and employee compensation. (The Commissioners chant in unison, "Hold that line!")¢ Public Parking - Revenues and fund balances should be sufficient to continue our current public parking system under the existing fee and fine structures. However, as we continue to draw down our fund balance in this fund, further review of expenditure and revenue projections is necessary. This fall, staff will explore the options for potential fee increases to address long term stability of this fund.(The Commissioners accompanied by Dave Corliss chant in unison, "Hold that line!")¢ Water and Wastewater An overall increase of five percent is recommended for water and sewer services.(The Commissioners accompanied by Dave Corliss Chad Lawhorn chant in unison, "Hold that line!")http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Employee Compensation:In 2008, the compensation program included a 2.0% general wage adjustment, for which all employees were eligible, and merit increases of 2½% to 5% for all employees who were not at the top of their pay range. Approximately 33% of employees city-wide are currently at the top of their pay range, and thus not eligible for merit increases. Using the same parameters for 2009, the increase to the City's General Operating Fund is estimated to be more than $1,000,000 for a 2.0% general wage adjustment and merit increases for all eligibleemployees.(Reduce employees, heck no! Were going to give them pay increases and threaten you with potholed streets if you don't agree to increased taxes! Pretty clever, no? LOL!)Maintaining our existing merit system and providing a 2.0% general wage adjustment would require a property tax mill levy increase to the general fund or a reduction of expenditures.(God forbid we reduce our expenitures. )Library - The City will provide a total of $3,051,000 the amount requested by the Library - in City resources in 2009. Because this fund is solely reliant on property tax revenue, the impact of relatively flat assessed valuation is significant. Use of fund balance may be necessary to provide sufficient resources to fund the Library without affecting the mill levy rate associated with this fund in 2009.(Hopefully no one, I mean no one, asks about this!)http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Funding for the following 15 currently vacant non-public safety positions has been eliminated: (Bureaucrats we wanted to hire, but decided it might look bad. We hope your fooled into believing we actually reduced City employees!) ¢ Administrative Support III (Administrative Services Department)¢ Planner II (Planning and Development Services Department)¢ Two Zoning Enforcement Officers (Planning and Development Services Department)¢ Management position in Development Services¢ Management Analyst (Finance Department)¢ Information Systems Technician (Information Systems Department)¢ Human Relations Staff Attorney (Legal Department)¢ Municipal Court Clerk (Legal Department)¢ GIS Analyst (Public Works Department)¢ Parks and Recreation eliminated five vacant positions with its budget submittals.http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

Steve Jacob 6 years, 10 months ago

You know, what really is the difference between sales tax and property tax?

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Economic Trends Affecting Expenditures:Our budget challenges reflect the local and national economic challenges. We are budgeting 40% more for fuel in 2009 than our 2007 actual fuel expenses. (Should be 100%, but we are optimistic)The slow down in growth, particularly residential growth which has historically been a strong point, is impacting a number of City revenues. In the first half of 2009 we issued 47 single family building permits, compared to 95 permits in 2007, and 148 permits in 2006. (Special thanks go out to Bozo, merrill, and all of our PLC/GRE "Smart Growth buddies!)The price of electricity remains a concern with Westar's proposal pending before the Kansas Corporation Commission to increase electricity rates 15% to 20% beginning next year. (Props to Gov. Kathy and the KDHE!)Material costs are also impacting City operations from the chemicals we purchase for utility facilities to the asphalt we obtain to patch potholes.(We are still considering merrills potholes are "traffic calming devices" and it is making "cents" to us!)General Fund:The recommended budget projects resources in the General Fund to be $69,792,706. This is an increase over 2008 budget of 11.9% and includes $3,759,875 of new sales tax revenues. However, this revenue will not remain in the General Fund but will be transferred into the Transportation Fund and Capital Improvement Reserve Fund to fund voter approved initiatives proposed for November 2009.(We are hoping that by threatening voters with eliminating our corporate welfare to MV Transportation and fixing the roads, they will approve even more taxes. We are keeping our finger crossed, or double crossed, whatever. But not to worry, we have an offer they can't refuse!)If the transit sales tax passes, the City will have the dedicated resources to merge our transit system with the University of Kansas transit system ensuring substantial continuing resources to serve both community and KU student needs in an integrated system. (Nevermind those empTy buses, be assured no matter how little they are used we will not ask riders for increased fares nor ask MV Transportation that provides $8.00 per rider value. The future is in empTy buses and we hope we can drag the KU bus system down with us!)If the transit sales tax fails, we will need to call upon other community interests to assist in providing for the transit dependent to travel in our community. The Commission could use one time reserve funds to assist in providing these transit needs for part of 2009 however such a patchwork system will not meet all needs and can not be sustained further without a property tax increase.("Transit Dependent" are Bus riders who pay 50 cents for a $8.00 bus ride. Nevermind, we will tax those "rich" property owners to pay for it. Gotcha!)http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_cm_recommended_budget-web.pdf

tir 6 years, 10 months ago

I might have supported a sales tax increase to help pay for city street and infrastructure maintenance, but not now. That's because this year the city forced me and some of my neighbors to repair the public sidewalks in front of our homes (at considerable expense to us) because some unknown individual or individuals filed complaints. Literally hundreds of sidewalks in the surrounding area were in the same shape as ours (or worse), but just like the folks on New Hampshire Street last year, we were deliberately targeted and forced to pay for the repairs. So I figure I've already paid WAY more than my share to maintain the city's infrastructure, and will be voting NO on any tax increases this year, and for a very long time to come.

BigPrune 6 years, 10 months ago

Haywire,You are full of **it. It was the PLC controlled commissioners who voted in the new code, period. Please don't rewrite history here. Hey, at least there are vacancies to prove the know it all assist. professor's theory.

Rationalanimal 6 years, 10 months ago

You may as well be speaking an extinct language, "merit" is not a word in the government lexicon.

BigPrune 6 years, 10 months ago

The REAL problem is the legacy left by the Progressive Lawrence Commission. The REAL problem is their adaptation of the New Development Code. I really wish the JW would investigate how restrictive this new code is and talk to some area experts on what their take is on it. I have just heard horror story after horror story. Can't attract businesses to town? Blame the development code. Can't gain in sales tax dollars? Blame the development code. Vacancies? Blame the development code. Lawrence is business unfriendly? Blame the development code. Thank you, our past Progressive Commission. Your legacy lives on in the worst way possible. Replacement Commissioners, throw out the new development code!

monkeyhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

It is past time for the city and the county to make a commitment to the property owners. That commitment should be that they will do everything possible to adjust their own budgets, no matter what it takes, before they raise our taxes. Let's see if they have the guts to do that, before they start running people out of their homes. If it takes eliminating jobs, do it. If it takes cutting back services, other than absolute necessities, do it. If it takes selling a golf course, a cemetery, or vanishing a vampire bus service, do it.The property owners are beyond declaring enough. We want to see action on the part of the taxing entities, and we want to see it now.

haywire 6 years, 10 months ago

7 years ago this family purchased 3 residential units to restore as a source of revenue for our childrens college expenses. One is for their living quarters as students as each graduates high school. Beginning this fall a new jayhawk is born. As absentee landlords/property managerswe keep a close eye on the properties and government.Our observations reveal one of the most mismanaged cities in Kansas. Inflating property values to fund local operations or constantly increasing fees is a sign of long time bad decisions likely dating back 15 years or more resulting in no way to support the city in the fundamental manner. A most obvious source to this problem typically is at the top where policy is set and city growth is directed.Do Lawrence voters pay attention or not? The current five city commissioners are taking Lawrence down the path to a stagnant economy. Old ideas with like decisions on growth can set Lawrence back 50 years.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Across the country, manufacturers have voiced alarm that there is no labor pool of young trained workers. From the late 70's and through to the early 90's trade school classes were scuttled from high school and community college curriculums in the false view that all new jobs would be high-tech ones: blue work shirts replaced by white lab coats.Revenue-starved education budgets forced this false choice in training, in the same way as off-shoring manufacturing caused many unions to downsize their apprenticeship programs, if not eliminate them entirely. A bleak future for labor equipped with mechanical skills seemed inevitable.The need for skilled workers to replace the retirees has mobilized, in some communities, a response by unions, junior colleges and local governments to establish pioneering educational ventures using limited local resources. Significantly, many manufacturers recognize the value of skills training and it may be possible to find support from some sections of the business community over this issue.It can't be stressed enough that unless the country educates a new generation of skilled workers, much of the infrastructural work, like re-building failing bridges, replacing weak levees, laying high speed rails and much more, will be impossible to accomplish.If there is a national commitment, which means massive federal funds, to initiate these essential construction projects it will recall Roosevelt's political script to provide good jobs for the unemployed but updated by the push to create green collar jobs. For example, instead of simply rebuilding the old bridges, why not design them with fewer auto lanes and expanded public transit lanes to allow for light rail and bikes? And new levees? Build them higher for safety of course, but also smarter to allow water flows to fill low-lying areas. And why not restrict new construction to fit a sustainable land-use perspective that incorporates economic justice? The point is to move the public discussion, by the concern for good green jobs, towards an examination of social-serving employment.The entire synopsis:http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=5811Perhaps Lawrence should stick to developing a solid industry such as expanding education. Rumors say USD 497 is losing ground so that needs to come to a screeching halt if is in fact true. The fact of the matter is people always want education whether it be Vo-Tech,associate degrees,bachelors,PHD'S,masters etc etc. Always money to be made in educating the work force. Instead of moving toward a warehouse district let's become an educated training district. The democrats want to fund training dollars at all levels which is typical. Face it educated people are more productive. Tax dollars spent on education provide a best bang for the tax buck.

KsTwister 6 years, 10 months ago

It's obvious, the city should consider a three day work week.

absolutelyridiculous 6 years, 10 months ago

Dave...don't plan on a huge sale tax increase in cash flow...after the 20% Westar, 12% Water, 4% Trash, fuel, groceries, School mil levy, etc, we won't have any money to buy anything. Did you think it's time to cut the Parks & Rec budget? Transportation is essential in getting citizens to work and home again...we could do with a few less yoga classes. Maybe we can keep up with some of the street work then.

haywire 6 years, 10 months ago

People have been screaming about the codes for years and years ..long long before the PLC came on board. The PLC were in the process of cleaning matters up. The Hack,Henry,Hodges and Kennedy majority often were calling Lawrence anti growth years before the PLC came on board. The chamber controlled the county,city and planning commissions preceding the Hack,Henry,Hodges and Kennedy majority.It's the commissioners who dictate how the budgets shouldlook and what they want from the city manager and staff.Guess who voted in the the crummy planning codes? The Chamber anti economic growth machine commissioners aka the real estate development community. Guess who decided economic impact studies were not necessary with new projects? The Chamber anti economic growth machine planning commissioners aka the real estate development community. Why? A.They knew the results would indicate lots of projects should not be constructed because the retail and residental would become over loaded .B.Housing booms are like all other boom economies...they cannot be sustained. C.As more residential continues to be approved values will continue to decline in a distressed market situation. D.All of the above demand higher taxes and/or fees.E.All of the above are indicators of growth without logic.Why would anyone approve warehouses for storage with no tenants signed on? Why would anyone approve warehouse projects with fuel prices soaring? Why would any company consider transporting products for storage any further than across the street knowing fuel prices are soaring and will never drop to 19.9 cents per gallon ever again? Where is the logic? Where are the studies that indicate this thinking has any support? Taxpayers should be concerned for when these projects fail it's the taxpayers who make up the missing revenue such that is being discussed as we speak. Too much housing and over loaded retail is not providing the revenue to operate this fair city. All cities need public transportation which is why they were put on the planet. The more Lawrence grows out the more demand for public transportation.

Bruce Bertsch 6 years, 10 months ago

Just where is this "MT"? I find it less than amusing that in a time of $4.00 gas, folks are wanting to get rid of mass transit. As a rider of the "T", I have yet to be on a bus that is empty or where I am the lone rider. I am sure that it does occur on parts of some routes, but the narrow focused seem to forget that no public transportation system in the US is self sustaining. That is why its called a public service. The "T" daily delivers people in this community to work, school, shopping and home again for $1.00 per ride. It can be used a way to save money in a time of spiraling costs for fuel.Perhaps many of you fail to see Lawrence for what it is; a college town that is also a bedroom community for Topeka and Johnson County. Should fuel prices continue to rise, we will likely become more college town and less bedroom community as people move closer to their jobs. The rental market will also likely undergo a shakeout as campus housing becomes more attractive (2008 fall projections indicate the largest historical use of on campus housing at KU) and more workers move closer to their jobs.Lawrence is a nice community, but it is not a mecca for quality high paying jobs, nor is it likely to become one. It is a big small town with a university and some some white collar and blue collar employers and an overheated real estate market with too many absentee landlords.

50YearResident 6 years, 10 months ago

How can we take Corliss serious when he is smiling like that? (current LW photo)

cowboy 6 years, 10 months ago

Again Corliss has displayed a complete unwillingness to address city waste and misappropriation of the taxpayers contributions.This march to the tax trough that Corliss and this commission are conducting needs to be confronted. Increasing water rates 12% , are you on drugs ?You have already hammered us each year on water rates and also in your ridiculous sewer charges. Just a few suggestions ...Stop running the street sweepers on clean streets , put them in the neighborhoods where you rarely see them. Haven't had one on my street this yearStop picking up peoples grass , just this one action would cut the trash collection operating costs in residential neighborhoods by 50%Stop planting these non-sustainable flower beds , what a waste of dollars , and stop the flower contributions to DTL , what is it up to now 50-75 grand a year.Stop the saturday morning sign nazi stealing everyones garage sale signs , bet he's getting overtime for that oneIf the building permits and construction are down has the Neighborhood resources dept reduced staff and operating costs ?Is there a freeze on city travel , non essential purchases ?Has the new auditor saved us anything yet ? 80 grand a year there plus benefitsCut the 1.5 million to the T , just do it Streamline the municipal court , its beyond ridiculous how much time is wasted thereBack up all of the infrastructure expenditures , these are run through each week on the commission agenda. Have a top to bottom review and delay or table anything that is non - essential for the next twelve months.Times are getting hard and its time for someone at city hall to have some courage and stand up and do the job you're getting overpaid for.

del888 6 years, 10 months ago

"Corliss also recommends the city largely eliminate cost of living increases and instead provide raises based on merit and performance evaluations"Do we really think they will give themselves $0 pay raise. That's what they deserve if it's based on merit and performance. BTW, I haven't had a pay raise in years. That' s what happens when you're self employed. One more thing, everything will go up in price, because the merchant is going to pass the sales tax increase on to the buyer.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Sidewalks are the property owners responsibility however to only enforce that selectively by way of complaint is irresponsible and simply unfair. All of the sidewalks could be repaired and billed as a benefit district rather than choosing a small section because someone complained. Rentals appear as though the property owners receive preferential treatment butttttt a benefit districtapproach would stop that. The eastside is loaded with rentals so it is only fair that all be treated equally.Seems to me some homeowners have a legitimate complaint.

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 10 months ago

Tough times demand strong leaders who will make the tough decisions. We all must live within our means, the city included.

Boston_Corbett 6 years, 10 months ago

I say put a toll booth up on the Mass St. Bridge. It will raise money and we can keep stupid Marion and his guns out of the rest of town.

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