Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2008

T’s future hinges on sales tax vote

It is T day here in Lawrence. The fate of the city's bus transport system was taken up at the city commission meeting tonight.

July 23, 2008


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The showdown is set.

A majority of city commissioners Tuesday night moved ahead on a city budget that includes no property tax funding for the city's beleaguered public transit system, but rather puts the fate of the bus system in the hands of sales tax voters in November.

Commissioners did not waiver from the sales tax plan, despite hearing nearly two hours of sometimes pointed public comment urging them to raise the city's property tax rate to ensure that the bus system would survive for at least another year.

"I'm someone who will lose my job if I lose the T," said Lance Fahy, a Lawrence resident who is visually impaired. "Anyone who says the T is not a vital service lacks the insight to lead a community."

Commissioners also were criticized for proposing to put two separate sales tax questions in front of the public in November: a 0.20 percent sales tax for public transit and a 0.30 percent sales tax for streets and infrastructure issues.

"The proposed sales tax as it is structured is wrong," Laura Routh said. "In my humble opinion, it is an overt attack on public transportation and an attack on the poor."

Four city commissioners - all but Commissioner Boog Highberger - agreed to publish the city's property tax rate for 2009 at 26.688 mills, which is one-tenth of a mill less than the 2008 levy. Highberger had argued to increase the mill levy to 29.208 mills to provide the needed property tax funding for the bus system, which is facing soaring costs related to fuel prices and aging buses.

A majority of city commissioners argued the sales tax is the best way to gauge public support for the bus system.

"I don't think putting the issue in front of the public is passing the buck," Commissioner Sue Hack said. "For every e-mail that I have gotten that supports the T, I have gotten another one that says, 'please do not raise my property taxes.'"

Mayor Mike Dever, who first proposed the idea of a transit sales tax, said the new sales tax would provide a more stable source of funding for public transportation. As proposed, the city would be legally obligated to spend the new sales tax money on the transit system for the 10-year duration of the sales tax. That would be different from property tax funding. The city has no legal mechanism to bind future commissions to spend property taxes to operate the T.

"We should all campaign hard for the future of the transit system so that we don't have three other commissioners come along and take it away," Dever said. "This way we won't have to have this meeting again next year."

Last year's budget also featured a major debate about the future of the city's public transit system. Commissioners last summer voted to reduce the hours of the T, but backed off the plan after a wave of T supporters lobbied City Hall.

Highberger and several members of the crowd said they were philosophically opposed to the commission risking the future of the T because they believe it is a core city service such as parks, roads and libraries. They also noted other controversial programs aren't subjected to a referendum-style vote.

"There is a million dollars in this budget for economic development," Highberger said. "Why isn't that up for a referendum?"

Commissioners at their Aug. 5 meeting are expected to debate the specific ballot language that would be presented to voters in November. That debate likely will include discussion of whether the transit and infrastructure sales tax should be combined into one ballot question. Both Highberger and Commissioner Mike Amyx said Tuesday that was their preference.


Trobs 9 years, 9 months ago

in the case of political matters a small percentage is vocal while the rest are sheep.

Trobs 9 years, 9 months ago

Godot while I agree with you it will never happen. It is he same as Ron Paul's plan to abolish the IRS. Government is too big and complex to simply shrink. When you ask them to stop spending so much money they don't know what to do. Then when you remove services from people who rely on them, both because they have to and because they are too lazy do do otherwise, the people have a fit you took the service away. It's an unfortunate situation all around.

dandelion 9 years, 9 months ago

I would venture to say that fewer people use the golf course and the airport than use the bus. I don't deny that it's nice to have those things, but why should we subsidize these things for people who have a money for golf clubs and planes, but we can't subsidize transportation for people who don't, can't or won't drive? Why can't those who own airplanes pay for the airport? Why can't those who golf join the country club? or Alvamar? That's the reasoning on the buses? These things are not self sufficient, but the bus system should be? I just came in from running some errands, and I saw people waiting by almost every bus stop. I know I don't have time to sit around and watch all the buses, but when I take the bus, I'm seldom alone on the bus. The routes are really stupid or I would take the bus more often.

monkeyspunk 9 years, 9 months ago

"I don't think putting the issue in front of the public is passing the buck," Commissioner Sue Hack said. "For every e-mail that I have gotten that supports the T, I have gotten another one that says, 'please do not raise my property taxes.'"Umm, you are passing the buck Hack. You and your boyfriends were elected to make decisions on sometimes difficult issues. You were not elected to pick and choose issues that you are comfortable with politically to decide upon and then have us vote on the rest so you can avoid responsibility. Cowards.Support the T or not, this type of behavior from our elected representatives should be rewarded by voting for their opponents in the next election.

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

This "Save the T Bus" will be incorporated into "saving the roads." One statement will say, "You support street improvements and transportation services through a sales tax increase."The other statement will say, "You do not approve of street improvements and transportation services through a sales tax increase."Please check one."That debate likely will include discussion of whether the transit and infrastructure sales tax should be combined into one ballot question. Both Highberger and Commissioner Mike Amyx said Tuesday that was their preference."The B.S. continues.One more thing, Lawrence has been in a recession since the previous Progressive Commission took office. Facts back up this statement. Nobody can blame the national economy on Lawrence's woes. It's local.

dandelion 9 years, 9 months ago

It's interesting; I take a break from reading these forums for awhile and go out into the community and realize that people in Lawrence don't seem to be like the people on this forum. A lot of posters hate the Democrats and Obama, but I'll bet Obama wins the majority vote in Lawrence, and probably Douglas County. A lot of posters hate the bus, but, lot of people I talk to favor keeping the bus, and not to many of the posters showed up to express their hatred of the bus, so I think the tax may have a chance. The election should be interesting. If it goes in favor of the bus, it will make a lot of posters crazy.

fu7il3 9 years, 9 months ago

So, monkey, I take it you ride the T everywhere?Right now, buses that get around 8 mpg are sitting idling empty at bus stops waiting for passengers that are never there. Even the buses with riders on them are rarely filled over what could fit in a mini-van.Wouldn't it make more sense economically and environmentally to have a fleet of mini-vans running on E85 than empty buses spewing black smoke?

blackhawkx 9 years, 9 months ago

foodboy don't compare the two directly. They all have different maintenance costs. A road can be left there with as little maintenance as once every 3-5 years if no one uses it while a bus needs constant feeding of fuel.It's not fair. I don't want to pay for something I don't even use. Once you have a car, there is no need for you to ride the T. It may be a lifesaver for those who cannot own a car, but taxing everyone for a service many do not use or might use once in awhile?I don't go to KU for college, I go out of state. The city where I live is MUCH smaller than lawrence but already has an integrated city/college bus service. In a town of 50,000 people there seems to be no problem for bus funding AND the tax rate is 7%. I know where I won't be living when I graduate.

Boeing 9 years, 9 months ago

merrill - how about the trips by various Schools at KU to visit well-to-do alumni who support said School? Those planes fly out of Lawrence on a regular basis, and their visits to alumni work. how about the work done as part of the Garrison Flight Research Center at the airport which has come up with many projects that have resulted in very good funding for the School of Engineering.this is also night and day. towns big and small have GA airports. the idea of getting rid of LWC is insane. It also is attractive to major corporations that might want to do business with Lawrence by being a good way to get their jets in and out. and don't for get the jobs it does in fact create, not the least of which being the Fixed Based Operator (FBO) based at LWC. They are also hoping to turn 900 acres around LWC into a mixed commercial/industrial facility which could bring jobs and income to Lawrence. LWC isn't a heavily used airport, and it has no control tower. Because of all this, it is not an incredibly expensive airport to operate. Just because it does not have the flash of a commercial airport like KCI doesn't mean it's a waste. Any community of Lawrence's size has, and needs, a GA airport. A poorly planned and executed fixed route bus system...not so much.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

If there is anything empty it is the airport. Why is the city of Lawrence maintaining an expensive airport? For whom? Couldn't these very very very very very few airplane owners fly into KCAI or downtown KCMO airport? That money could be spent evermore wisely?

Boeing 9 years, 9 months ago

Put me down for 100% backing a para-transit system. Put me down as 100% opposing the fixed route system. We're already struggling with this economy...stop taking more out of our pockets to fund a horrific system. I studied and interned in the public transportation planning office of a major California city...Lawrence got it all wrong. All very, very wrong. And now they expect us all to pay because of it. Any question why this city isn't growing as much as it used to?

Alison Roberts 9 years, 9 months ago

I also think that people who dont think the T is viable for our community have obviously never had to use it. I am thankful for the T because I just got out of college so I am paying off student loans along with every other bill I have to pay and when my car breaks down...instead of worrying where Im going to get the money to fix it, I can just park it for awhile and ride the bus.

gccs14r 9 years, 9 months ago

Our CC election turnout was dismal last time. This is what we get for not showing up at the polls. A million for economic development, eh? Maybe if they used it for the streets, sidewalks, and public transportation, prospective business owners would think we're worthy of their investment. Otherwise, it's just a million dollars worth of lipstick on a pig.

weirdchemgirl 9 years, 9 months ago

Why not switch the plan from sales tax to "tourist" tax - hotels, motels, restaurants - with the recent successes of KU athletics - more out of towners will be spending time during the athletics seasons in Lawrence - make them pay for our problems.

shawn1040 9 years, 9 months ago

The T is not a viable option for such a small population, if you want public transportation then move to the metro.

Phil Minkin 9 years, 9 months ago

independent_rebel (Anonymous) says: "If 1% of people use this system, how can it be considered a necessity?)." What % of the population use the airport, that always seems to get funded. If only 1% of the population use a street, should we get rid of it?"What did she do before the T?)" The fact that people previously depended on friends or did without isn't a strong argument. In the past, the fact that we did without phones, antibiotics and any other improvement doesn't negate their importance.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Why does anyone support the airport? Why do we need the airport? Who uses the airport?At least the T has 350,000-400,000 riders a year.

Boeing 9 years, 9 months ago

dandelion - it's like everywhere else...a small percentage of the population is very vocal. That happens in big cities and small, east and west, democrat and republican areas. Always has, always will.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 9 months ago

xbusguy (Anonymous) says: I used to provide dispatching service for Indy, Cottonwood, Senior Services, and the City owned paratransit vehicles. I charged each agency 1.84 per vehicle revenue hour to staff, supply route software, etc. The city budgeted (at the time) roughly 430k per yr.Lawrence, currently has many vehicles in the existingpara-transit fleet. I would propose that those vehicles be used for the "taxi" type service at approx. $25.00 per revenue hour. MV Transportation is a good contractor. I would suggest that they manage the service.Exact costs would require more details that are available but not known at this time. Researching is time consuming but, is a good investment given the total cost of the T.I have no interest in getting back in the transportation business

bearded_gnome 9 years, 9 months ago

names,I believe the first speaker's name is "jim canaday." I think your "Ms. Whintenburg" is Vashta winterburg.*Canaday, winterburg, and others noted that the transit levy should stop going to the general budget and return to funding transit, as intended at the founding of the transit system. merrill/richard heckler looked like he's getting early senility, sometimes seeming to lose his place in his own comments. and, what the heck is a "first class city?" or "the first class cities in Kansas?" he and KM referred to repeatedly! Fahy's comments were very intensely spoken. Canaday did note that the low and diminishing ridership threatens the existance of the T, and that much more should be done to turn this around. he was speaking for the blind chapter, said the para was not sufficient to provide transport for working blind in our community. Hack apologized for being part of the commission that first took the transit levy into the general fund. Boog noted that this vote would leave no back up plan for the continuation of the T, if the sales tax didn't pass. one commissioner, sorry I forget which one, questioned that the sales tax figure to support the T was high enough. MikeA spoke on the necessity to put the streets/improvements, and the T under one ballot item. and Chestnut appeared to be put on the defensive by several commenters implications or outright claims that the sales tax vote was actually an effort to end the T. he explained that last year he was in favor of the property tax levy for transit, but this year only the sales tax. he failed to explain why last year the property tax levy was okay and this year, it isn't.

Michael Throop 9 years, 9 months ago

Actually,in this era, a vote doesn't matter. If it passes, swell, if it doesn't some "rider" with a specific need, preferably a disability or racial angle, will find a plaintiff or "civil rights" lawyer to sue the city in Federal Court to automatically put the sales tax in place or boost the property tax,to pay for the "T".The city will wait for a Judge to tell them what to do, vis a vis the Kansas CIty MO School Board and Judge Russell Clark in the 1980s, and acquiese with a wink and a nod. No muss no fuss.."Hey, we had no choice!!"Just a warning..

Orwell 9 years, 9 months ago

Way to man up, commissioners.I don't drive that much, so I'll be voting against the infrastructure sales tax. I wish you'd break the entire budget into distinct sub-parts and put it on the ballot so we could all decide what to pay for that way you guys wouldn't have to decide anything and we could save the Commissioner salaries we aren't using either.

monkeyspunk 9 years, 9 months ago

"All of you leeches out there now have about 3 months to find out how to take care of yourselves, something your parents should have taught you long ago."That's a tad offensive there b3.What is the cost of a society that runs off of a natural resource that has to be imported? How much does it cost to maintain a military that is able to protect interests in a part of the world that would be worthless to us if it wasn't floating on top of oil? What is lost when we have to cozy up to dictators and tyrants and religious zealots just to get the fuel we "need" to get to work.No, I am sorry, those that refuse to change their lifestyle and adapt to changing conditions, those are the leeches. Those are the people taking advantage of the power and respect of the United States. The power to become energy independent or at the very least independent of Middle Eastern oil is there. Through alternate sources, alternate fuels and reduced consumption America can do it. We can defeat the Nazis, send a man to the moon, and invent the airplane, but thanks to people like b3 we can't tighten our belts and make a difference because tear it just too hard. b3, what did your parents teach you? That it is ok to become dependent on the neighbor that hates you? Or that it is OK for you to never change your habits, even when they are detrimental to everyone around you? Mine taught me to adapt to my surroundings, to take hardships and difficulties and learn from them. To survive, and to become stronger in the process, not to keep motoring on like some ignorant juggernaut headed for the edge of the cliff.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 9 months ago

Down with the mT and let the economic development begin full bore. Damn the topedoes capitalism full speed ahead.

gccs14r 9 years, 9 months ago

What I really detest is that the CC is forcing me to vote for a tax increase to support a necessary service, but not allowing me to vote on whether they should get to give another million in corporate welfare to their benefactors or not.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 9 months ago

Nobody has thwarted growth, monkeyhawk. Lawrence's growth has always been built on bedroom sprawl and the housing bubble. That bubble has broken, nationwide, not just in Lawrence, and along with rising energy costs, this has finally pushed the collapse of the pyramid scheme that was passed off as economic development.And looking for some white knight to come in from outside to save us is a fairy tale none of us needs-- they've all moved out of the country to fuel the race to the bottom, anyway.Meaningful economic development will come from those who live here, and want to live here. The current program of corporate welfare is nothing but a giveaway to the folks who really created the predicament we're in.

Trobs 9 years, 9 months ago

Go google the lawrence budget and read through it. It is mind boggling confusing. I wonder if they intentionally make it hard to decipher or if that is how it ends up after everyone sticks their hand in it.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

The outcome was expected. The T needs to provide peak service during "rush hours" to citizens about every 20 minutes. Put more buses at the busiest routes so that others know they can get to work and school on time. Run this intense service from about 7-10AM then cut back to every 40 minutes. Do it again from 4-8PM then cut back to every 40 minutes until 10PM.The independence and freedom thing is about those who do not or cannot drive for a host of reasons. That is what public transportation is for. Most first class cities have bus service. Big twelve cities provide bus service including those with less population than Lawrence.A lot of jobs will be lost including those associated with the T. Since when can Lawrence afford to have citizens lose jobs? The city ought to consider dumping private contractors and do much of the city work with city employees. According to what I read that saves local taxpayers tons in tax dollars. Hire skilled employees and do quality work forless. On the sales tax issue Lawrence taxpayers need to learn EXACTLY how the infrastructure tax dollars will be spent.It would be nice if commissioners would be very explicit and lock it in with a 5-0 vote providing the entire community is showing approval not just the Chamber crowd. Provide also that the expenditure plan cannot be altered without a 5-0 vote and voter approval.It surely will be interesting.

Godot 9 years, 9 months ago

Even the venerable NPR opined this week that public mass transit works only in urban cities with a very large population. If NPR said it, it must be true.

fu7il3 9 years, 9 months ago

Keep the short T buses for the handicapped, scrap the rest and buy a minivan. That's my answer.

bearb 9 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Heckler,Your arguments against closing the Lawrence Municipal Airport fall from the sky like a lead balloon. Since 2000, the FAA has invested more than $6 million in enhancing and improving services to the airport. The airport ranks 13th among the state's airports in generating economic impact to its community at a minimum of $9 million dollars annually. This is a public use airport and is used by our community and visitors 24/7. This is economic development!If you have concerns about the use and expenses of the airport, I urge you to join us for a meeting of the Aviation Advisory Board to learn the correct information before you sully our good name. Meeting dates and times are available through the City Manager's office. Also, our board members are listed on the airport's web page on the City of Lawrence's Web site and we're always available to answer questions about the airport.Thanks Boeing for your credible comments.Rick Bryant, chairAviation Advisory BoardLawrence Municipal Airport

justthefacts 9 years, 9 months ago

It's really pretty simple.1. Money is short all around (recession/depression - whatever). So few people can afford to pay more for anything.2. The mass transit system so widly used and supported in bigger cities has never caught on as much in the mid-west, where things are more spread out.3. It costs money for any government entity to provide citizens with any service. 4. Someone has to pay those additional costs, or the service will be cut back or elmininated. 5. If the money from riders isn't enough to support a bus system, the only other sources of financial support are (1) the government or (2) some other private source (grants?).So, argue and debate and name call all you want about the systems usefulness, merits, costs, etc.... It all boils down to these 5 points. Who wants something, who will pay for that something, and are those willing or able to pay for it going to pay enough to keep it going? Supply and demand. Economics 101.

Godot 9 years, 9 months ago

The solution to our problems is to cut taxes down to where there is just barely enough for the necessities of water, sewer, trash, roads, police and fire dept. Then we will not need the huge administration, the layers of management and acres of city offices. Make it illegal for the city to borrow money for anything other than those necessities. With taxes low, it will not be necessary to offer tax breaks to bring in businesses. Make it so those who run for city commission know precisely what their mission is - to provide for those "nuts and bolts" that some on the commission deride. This city cannot afford commissioners who plan a budget based on "visions." Let the charities be visionary, with money donated voluntarily, not money that is confiscated from taxpayers and doled out by commissioners based on their preferences, or their weakness in the face of pressure from those who demand entitlements.

Trobs 9 years, 9 months ago

Nothing is better then watching the bus pull up to a stop in afternoon traffic. It idles there for 30 secs - 1 min. No one gets on the bus, no one gets off. Repeat at every stop on the route. Raise my taxes for that? I think not.

Siouxhawker 9 years, 9 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says:The T needs to provide peak service during "rush hours" to citizens about every 20 minutes. Put more buses at the busiest routes so that others know they can get to work and school on time. Run this intense service from about 7-10AM then cut back to every 40 minutes. Do it again from 4-8PM then cut back to every 40 minutes until 10PM.*********Agreed. Lawrence should also look into Bus Rapid Transit from Mass Street to Downtown KCK, Downtown KCMO and Midtown in Kansas City. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't 11,000 people from Lawrence commute to KC every day? For example, buses could leave 9th and Mass at 6:30am, 7:30am, and 8:30am. This is not to say this would be the path taken because it must be convienent for riders to make the switch to a bus from other means.Commuter Rail was studied before our energy crisis and turned out to that it would have low ridership. Let's reevaluate the cost benefit of commuter rail to KC too, if the public is more keen on rail.I also propose subsidizing parking for bus patrons at parking ramps in Lawrence. They are under utilized during the work hours anyway. When people return from work some may even stick around and contribute to businesses.In the meantime if anyone works in KC look into carpooling. Here's a database of potential matches for you.

monkeyhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

merrill, when you come up with ways to take the tax burden off the helpless cash cow taxpayers, maybe someone will listen to your self important rants. It is too bad that you did not consider unintended consequences when you actively helped to kill the city, along with your "smart " buds. You wanted no growth - you got it. If you and the other bozos on the bus cannot fund it yourselves, it will go the way of our local economy. You have no one to blame but the man in the mirror.

Trobs 9 years, 9 months ago

"Wouldn't it make more sense economically and environmentally to have a fleet of mini-vans running on E85 than empty buses spewing black smoke?"As opposed to the farming equipment that burns diesel, the refining machines that burn oil and the trucks that transport it that also burn diesel? How about electric vans?

Trobs 9 years, 9 months ago

I don't use the T because I am too busy driving to the metro to work. cough cough no jobs cough cough

cowboy 9 years, 9 months ago

Actual cost of this poorly engineered , even more poorly implemented , and hopelessly unmodified in the face of failure, complete waste of federal and local tax dollars is over 3 million annually.For three million you could buy every able bodied citizen of lawrence a brand new bicycle , one time cost , ride the B , no bustops needed , ride the B , no drivers needed , ride the B , no replacements buses needed , ride the B . The local yahoo's , yeah you know who they are , publicity hounds , want to keep shoveling money into this. Stick a fork in it !

Alison Roberts 9 years, 9 months ago

Let me just add in my 2 cents here, since I couldnt make it to the meeting last night (which my bus driver so kindly told me about)I am a rider out of necessity right now because my car is out of commission. Once my car is fixed, however, I will continue to be a T patron. Although there is no direct route to my workplace and it takes me an hour to go the 4 miles it is to work... I choose to get up and get on the bus. I dont know what I would do without the T as an option for me to get to work. Sure, I could walk or ride my bike, but in the summer heat, I would need another shower once I got to work. Or I could get a ride with a co-worker, but generally I dont like making my problems their problem. It really would be a shame to lose such an asset to the community. Although, they should work on getting a route that goes from 23rd st, down wakarusa, and then down 6th street....that would make my day! I know for a fact that a lot of people would be in serious trouble if the T gets the boot. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to buy a car to get around. Without reliable transportation like the T many people might not be able to make it to work, which would be horrible.

Boeing 9 years, 9 months ago

dandelion - LWC has a yearly average of around 32,000 operations (88/day is the actual average). This counts aircraft, not people. So yes, the T probably carries more people per year than LWC. You can go home happy now. I 100% support charging landing fees for pilots, myself included, who fly in/out of LWC...because air travel and air commerce bring success globally and keep the world moving...bus travel does not.

gccs14r 9 years, 9 months ago

Jets are going away. They use far too much fuel for what they accomplish. As for an industrial park in the middle of the Kaw, whoever thought of that apparently has never looked at a map.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

As hanger space in the KC metro area got filled up pilots started renting hangers here. In fact, the city was asleep at the switch Gardner airport got ahead of us on money making hangers for rent. The planes also pay an extra fuel tax to the city. If the city charged a nominal landing fee for jets, it would also bring in revenue. But, the city needs to provide information to the taxpayers to justify the investment. the city has used federal funds for airport improvements and each time they do, the city promises to keep the airport open for 20 more years. In cities that have broken their propmiose the feds have collectd heavy fines and/or forced the airport to stay open.Seems to be some justification.... so be it.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Putting it candidly I love economic growth. It's fun! It's healthy for the community and it should prevent increases in taxes and fees. Obviously it is not happening in Lawrence to the extent that it should. The PLC were not in power long enough to create this huge mess. This situation has been at least two decades in the making. Who has been running this economic failure for the past 20 years?It's economic pollution aka shifting the costs of new growth off the backs of local developers onto the backs of citizens/property owners/taxpayers that I have no tolerance for. It stinks. This steals from citizens dollars they might spend in the retail community. Do we want freedom from economic pollution? Of Course.How? IMPACT FEES and/or EXCISE TAXES! Local real estate developers have had a great time laughing all of the way to the bank on the backs of taxpayers. This is the root of the problem.All new growth and new projects are obviously not producing economic growth or Lawrence would not be in this fix. It is a known equation all growth simply is not goodno matter who is stating otherwise.Over retailing kills economic growth. Instead it creates economic displacement which is spreading the limited retail dollars available in the community wayyyy to thin.Thus does not allow existing retailers to maximize profit potential or sales tax revenue potential thus jobs potential. It is screwing the retail community.Over loading residential also kills economic growth. If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.Killing public transportation will not solve our economic mismanagement.

geekin_topekan 9 years, 9 months ago

Paratransit?Of course.In the form of vouchers to the local cab company or private providers.Restructure the T?Yes,the current system stinks.It is workable but you have to plan your day around the syetem because if you miss a connection you are screwed.But seriously,how many people need to go to Lawrence Paper company or packer plastics?Combine the sytems?Meh,I don't understand why more folks don't take KU on wheels anyway.To go grocery shopping,wallyworld or LMH it is a far superior schedule.Unless you live in East or North lawrence that is.Using the student union as a hub instead of 9th and Mass might not be a great idea though.

Godot 9 years, 9 months ago

Merrill, would you care to enlighten us and tell us the dollar amount the city allots to the airport, say, in the current budget? I agree that that is worth exploring.And, Merrill, you said this: "At least the T has 350,000-400,000 riders a year."No, it does not. I gives away 350,000 - 400,000 rides per year to a very small group of repeat riders.

independent_rebel 9 years, 9 months ago

Part 2Dennis Constance, Grassroots Action, fully fund the T through property taxes, the T is as important as funding the roads. (Income redistribution! What did people use before the T? 100% of our community using any mode of transportation such as the T, bikes, cars, trucks, etc. use the roads. Only 1% of our community uses the T)Richard Heckler, spoke on how riding the T provides independence and freedom. (I say it makes them dependent on the government and forces them to be at the mercy of fixed routes and fixed times).Kirk McClure, KU professor, spouted inaccurate comparrisons regarding property taxes vs. sales tax and believes we should use property taxes. (Property taxes unfairly target the core, stable citizens such as the elderly who are about to be taxed out of their homes. I think Chestnut shot him down pretty well).Mary Rosenthal. Says she's been here 10 years, and may have to leave if we kill the T. (What did she do before the T?)Dr. Janet Parker. The T is a core essential service for this community. (If essential, then why is it used by only 1%). Joe Douglass. Works for Bert Nash, many patients depend on the T to get there. (Bert Nash has been around for a couple of decades, how did people get there prior to the T?)Mike Carron. Works with inmates. Many choose to remain here in Lawrence after getting out and need the T to get around. (I say tell them "adios.")Barbara Sterrit. Lived here 8 years. No other choice for independence (although the T makes them dependent on taxpayers and the government). Happy as a property owner to pay higher property taxes.Joe Patterson, speaking for silent majority who opposes the fixed route system, says the previous CC went too far, too fast, with too much expense, and no speaker has addressed the low ridership of the T. (wish me would have been more specific with the numbers).Linda O'Donnell. Speaking on behalf of the elderly. (I agree with her. The elderly and the disabled need a para-transit system. Lawrence is not big enough and does not have the need to support a fixed-route system used by 1% of the population.)A non-citizen from India. Worried about what foreign students considering KU may view Lawrence without the T. (yeah, let's worry more about foreign students considering KU instead of our own taxpayers.Kelly Nightengale. Talked about discrimination among candidates for jobs that those with a disability but no personal transportation will lose out to a candidate. (I say, get an attorney).John Woods. Wanted to shed the light on the myth that no one rides the T. Gave personal examples. (Sorry, John, the numbers presented by the T management prove that less than 1% of our population use the T).Personally, I believe in the para-transit system. That should be funded to the fullest degree necessary, but the fixed route must go.

LogicMan 9 years, 9 months ago

With the news that KU will be cutting back two to seven percent, the City and County should expect even lower tax revenues -- that much less money to be spent by KU employees, etc.It's the last nail in the coffin -- the T has got to go. But hopefully to come back in a smaller, better thought out form when the economy recovers.Sell off the oldest, most worn buses, and mothball the remainder. Bring a couple out for special purposes like the 4th of July, the sidewalk sale, etc. on short temporary routes.

independent_rebel 9 years, 9 months ago

Brief capsules on those who spoke to support the T, (with my own comments in parenthesis). I probably mis-spelled numerous names, and some I didn't catch so I left them out, so I apologize.There were numerous statements about the T being a necessity for a lot of people, but no one but a couple of the CC-ers brought up the stats showing that hardly anyone uses the T. Also, a lot of mis-information about property taxes vs. sales taxes, and how "First Class" cities have public transportation systems. Little was spoken about just funding a para-transit system, which I feel is an actual need.Part 1Jim Canady, uses both the para-transit and the fixed route. (I agree we need to fund a para-transit system. I feel for this man because he may lose out on a para-T because the socialists want too much too soon and the fixed route may bring it all down.)Sarah Cassad, original member of Citizens Committee on Transportation. Proud of the bus system, property taxes should be raised, and income taxes be taken from folks making a comfortable living. A sales tax to support the street is not fair to those who don't have personal transportation. (I say this reeks of income redistribution, and how is it fair for the 99% of those who don't use the T to subsidize the 1% of the population that does?)Lynette Pentegill, a T rider by choice. How can people get groceries and other things without the T? The T is a necessity, not a luxury. (What did they do prior to the T? If 1% of people use this system, how can it be considered a necessity?).Ms. Whittenberg, original member of Citizens Committee on Transportation, claims the CC is using the tax system to kill the T, and "great communities take taxes." (Wow, they do?)A guy who runs the para-transit, says he would ride the bus except he has to drive to work to give rides to those who use the system. Got personal towards the CC about wanting to cut taxes for businesses while scrapping the T, and the public trust in the CC is waning. (I feel for the para-transit riders, but if the T-supports weren't so anti-growth, we may not be in the financial situation we are in)Lance Fay, saya he will lose his job if the T is abolished. He says there has been consistant increase in ridership. Claims this CC, if they oppose the T, lacks the insight to lead the community, and will call for a full investigation into budget practices. (actually, the most consistant thing about the T is a lack of increase in ridership).Laura Ruth, environmentalist. Ending the T is disingenuous and an attack on the poor, a cowardly act by the CC and history will judge the CC harshly. Spoke about how many cars are not on the road polluting because of the T. (Well, considering that most of the people who ride the T claim to need it because they don't have personal vehicles, I'd say not a whole lot, Laura)

fu7il3 9 years, 9 months ago

"let's do it right and have diesel-electric hybrid buses !and biodiesel at that !"Then we would have a bunch of hybrid buses running around town with no one on them. Until people start riding the thing, there is no reason to invest even more money into it.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Taxes are can or cannot be regressive. If taxes are being increased to support sprawl growth that would be regressive because there is no direct dividend.If taxes are used to provide healthcare for all under National Health Insurance that would be a dividend because no matter your income level healthcare would no longer be a concern. Not regressive.If tax local,state and federal tax dollars are applied to the airport which does not pay for itself, yet is considered essential to economic growth then the same consideration should be provided public transportation aka The T. City bus service is also considered a contributor to economic growth.Does the airport pay for itself? Likely not. It would be tough to find one that did. Commercial airlines do not pay for themselves which is one reason they are constantly bailed out. Shouldusers of the airport be required to pay out enough money to eliminate the need for city tax dollars? It's a fair question. If local users were required to pay in enough to eliminate the need for city tax dollars Lawrence,Kansas would likely not have a public airport.It's not the airport that is a concern. It is the appearance of preferential treatment that is a concern. Financing for The T has been cut off, or at least it is not in the 2009 budget, because it is not paying for itself in spite of the fact that it does provide a public service by way of 300,000-400,000 passengers per year.The airport has been in the budget for as long as I can remember. The T should also be a part of the budget.Do I have a real problem with funding the airport ? NoWould I have a problem with bus money coming from the general fund? Absolutely notDo I have a problem with the appearance of preferential treatment? Of course.I say the city needs an airport and public bus service.

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 9 months ago

It is illogical to me to support something as expensive as the T as a "social service" and at the same time to hamper economic development projects such as better roads and industrial development.I think we cannot afford the inevitable rise in taxes that comes from a lack of economic cooperation.You can't have your cake and eat it too.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 9 months ago

wow, first employment ad on this story: suppose this company only uses a dusty little air strip in eudora or vinland? bet not! just thought this was funny. *oh, spiderman/unCool,you said you were quitting the blogs here! were you on pcp at the time? did somebody hack into your ljworld account? I keep wondering when you're leaving!

Fort_Aubrey 9 years, 9 months ago

Merrill: How much general tax resources (not aviation gas taxes) do we spend in Lawrence to support non-capital outlay operations of the airport?

bearded_gnome 9 years, 9 months ago

Py,the answer is:No. blind people have limited access to independence inc.'s bus but that is very limited indeed. nothing else. btw, "blind" is their preferred term, as a guy I know says about being "visually impaired": "I don't have any vision to impair me!" the first speaker made the point that blind people actively use both para and fixed route services. ***that's rich. Merrill who is opposed to driving wants the lawrence airport to close, and the flyers to land in KC---and drive here! as I said, he really looked at the meeting like senility was just around the corner! remember, he's advocated broken streets as passive traffic calming devices, and rolling blackouts as energy savings events!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

The question is does the airport pay for itself? If so how?No airport pays for itself. Commercial airlines do not pay for themselves.Should the users of the airport be required to fork over enough money to eliminate any city tax dollars being spent? If that were the case Lawrence might not have an airport.I had no objections to the airport until this matter of the bus service which was cut off. I've never heard anyone complain about the airport until now and there were plenty.If local,state and federal dollars are appropriate for an airport why not bus service that has a history of providingseveral hundred thousand rides a year?Public Transportation aka bus service is also considered a contributor to economic growth.

Boston_Corbett 9 years, 9 months ago

Hmm, Merrill hates the city commission, doesn't like residential growth, doesn't like commercial growth, doesn't like business parks, doesn't like the airport....Hawkperched hates the city commission, doesn't like residential growth, doesn't like commercial growth, doesn't like business parks, doesn't like the airport....>>Different ends of the political spectrum meet in the center of the other side. I hope they enjoy each other's personal company as much as their views would suggest.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 9 months ago

spiderman/unCool:some people have no 'vision'---yes, that first speaker at the commission meeting is a blind guy. [smirk]*no, sven, what spiderman/unCool needs is some help: hormonal treatments? relief from caffeine addiction? and, as I said, at the meeting, Merrill looked like senility was tapping his left shoulder! it is amazing how many posts from merrill/richard heckler and spiderman/unCool today! as if, by posting repeatedly, they think they can win an argument? there's a term for that ... uh ... yeah, silly!

Siouxhawker 9 years, 9 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says:merrill says the T has 350,000 to 400, 000 riders a year but what he doesnnt say is that it doesn't have revenue to equal the ridership..***********The only system that pays for itself in the country hawkperched is NYC. So should we abolish all mass transit elsewhere?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Why should older neighborhoods be expected to pay more sales taxes to fix roads after paying in 50-100 years for maintenace? Where did the money go? Where is the outrage from no tax people who now appear ready to vote yes?

bearded_gnome 9 years, 9 months ago

none2,I think it is more serious than that with merrill. he wants the lawrence airport closed, the people incoming to land in KC and drive here; yet he is opposed to driving in general, including opposing completion of the SLT "because people will drive on it." yes, he obviously really doesn't care about older neighborhoods. he has some bizarre twisted values.***merrill/richard heckler:Taxes are can or cannot be regressive. If taxes are being increased to support sprawl growth that would be regressive because there is no direct dividend.If taxes are used to provide healthcare for all under National Health Insurance that would be a dividend because no matter your income level healthcarewould no longer be a concern. Not regressive.---senility alas poor merrill, I knew him well. he apparently has lost touch with the concentual reality definition of the word "dividend."

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