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Archive for Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lawrence voters save bus system by approving sales tax

November 4, 2008

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It was two for the T.

Lawrence voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a pair of transit sales taxes - one to keep the city's bus system operating, and another to expand it.

In what was billed as a referendum on the value of the T - the city's fixed route bus system, voters approved a new two tenths of a percent sales tax by a margin of 70 percent to 30 percent. A second five one-hundredths of a percent sales tax to provide funding for new buses and enhanced transit services won by a margin of nearly 69 percent to 31 percent.

"This is the Lawrence I know," said David Smith, one of the leaders of the citizens' group Campaign to Save the T. "It is a very welcoming community, a very inclusive community with real civic spirit.

"This vote said something very important about Lawrence and its identity. It was about whether we do think about the whole community, about whether we rally together."

City commissioners who voted to put the questions on the ballot had expressed optimism that the votes would prevail. But as they watched the returns roll in at a packed Douglas County Courthouse, they admitted surprise at the large margins of victory.

"I think this might show that people really do appreciate the T, even though they don't ride it," said Mayor Mike Dever, who championed the idea of putting the future of the transit system in the hands of voters. "There are a lot of people who want it around when they need it."

But the system that will be around in the future likely will look different than the current bus system. The city and university have signed a letter of intent to either merge or better coordinate the city and university bus systems by July. City Manager David Corliss said negotiations with KU administrators and students would now intensify.

Smith said he believed the vote was a mandate for city commissioners to make significant improvements to the bus system.

"I don't perceive this as being a referendum on what has happened in the past," Smith said. "I think what this basically reflects is what people want for the future. People can't easily picture a city like Lawrence without public transit."

If the votes had failed, both city commissioners and public transit supporters had predicted the city would shut down both its fixed route system, and it paratransit system that serves the elderly and disabled. City commissioners did not include any property tax dollars to fund the transit system in their 2009 budget.

But opponents had argued that voters should reject the sales taxes and force the city to start over with a smaller, more efficient system.

"The voters have spoken," said Lawrence resident Jim Mullins with the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity. "I think they are wrong, but they have spoken."

The two sales taxes - totaling a quarter percent or 25 cents for every $100 spent in Lawrence - will begin in April. The two taxes are expected to generate $1.88 million in 2009 and $3.28 million in 2010. Both sales taxes - by law - will expire in 10 years. The only way they can be renewed is if voters approve them as part of a citywide election.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

The "jerks" are celebrating the "T's" approval, since it has provided a rationale for further jerkiness, to be applied in their usual indiscriminate fashion.

temperance 6 years, 1 month ago

"The overwhelming majority of you should be completely ashamed of yourselves!"The key phrase in there is "overwhelming majority." There's no shame in democracy. This outcome makes me proud to be a Lawrencian. Thank you community organizers!

justforfun 6 years, 1 month ago

Larry I agree!10% max on tipping anywhere I USED to do 20-25% but no more. It's a scam and everybody knows it but are afraid of looking cheap. Now you don't have to cuz really you can't afford to.

DGL 6 years, 1 month ago

I supported question 2, but not question 3. I hope voters were educated on what question 3 will mean for them and their pocketbooks--for the next 10 years.

Joel 6 years, 1 month ago

I don't know if folks voted early. But they voted often.

December 6 years, 1 month ago

I for one am glad. Let the QQ'ing begin.

gccs14r 6 years, 1 month ago

Now maybe I can comfortably sell my car. I was afraid that I'd sell my car, then the transit system would go away.

Mangino_saurus 6 years, 1 month ago

I seriously hope the bus system is re-evaluated prior to spending the new source of funds. I was not in favor of the proposed sales tax as the system is a no win situation. I hope the voters really did thier homework and just did not flip a coin on thier choice.

roger_o_thornhill 6 years, 1 month ago

What's is this going to hurt any of you? Even on a new car? (that's .2% + .05% or .25% and if I'm not mistaken, that will be .0025 cents per dollar). Maybe my math ain't so good, but it seems like you would have to spend $10,000 before these evil taxes cost you $0.25. So that new Chevy Tahoe'll cost an extra dollar in sales tax. Oh, I keep forgetting...It's the principle, damnit!

trailer 6 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence, I didn't know you had it in you. My faith is restored. Let's build and create a system better FOR ALL...YES WE CAN! Thank you...

geekin_topekan 6 years, 1 month ago

I suppose I should get out and ride the damd thing now.

trailer 6 years, 1 month ago

70 to 30, Oh My! Go back under your rocks and STFU!

Trobs 6 years, 1 month ago

How about that auditor they hired? Lot of good he's doing right?Did the city never learn to balance a checkbook? Here is a crash course.Important stuff gets money first. Less important stuff gets it second. Not so important stuff you make a wacky sales tax for. Easy right?

Thinking_Out_Loud 6 years, 1 month ago

Trobs wrote "If they don't fix the bus system, I'm running for office in two years."Please run, anyway.

Trobs 6 years, 1 month ago

If they don't fix the bus system, I'm running for office in two years. I may be young, but there is no way I can eff it up more then they can.

Thinking_Out_Loud 6 years, 1 month ago

Jaysbird noted that "The issue is we are going to continue to support a broken system with a promise to fix it later. Come to us first with a plan to support, then ask for the money. Don't ask for the money without a plan to fix what is so horribly broken."Not quite. The issue is that the voters indicated they value public transportation in this town and are willing to pony up some dollars for it. Our responsibility as citizens is to approach the Public Transit Advisory Committee (next meeting is on the 11th of this month) with our concerns and recommendations to help improve this service.

tribalzendancer 6 years, 1 month ago

Have the opponents of the T lost their sense of the common good? "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper" I believe it's in the bible. Honestly I am a little shocked that some people do not find a personal satisfaction in contributing a small amount to the long-term progress and welfare of our city.The price of gas is going to go up significantly in the next few years and if we don't use the T now, we will be glad it is there then. (http://www.whatispeakoil.com)

skinnee11 6 years, 1 month ago

This outcome disgusts me. More taxes do not fit into my pocketbook right now. Especially more taxes on such a wasteful service for a flawed system running at only 20 per-cent. Lawrence residents got by before the "T" and would have gotten by now, without it. Things like this happen when the willfully ignorant people are allowed to vote. The overwhelming majority of you should be completely ashamed of yourselves!

leslie 6 years, 1 month ago

So much for laughing about community organizers!

altarego 6 years, 1 month ago

I just hope that after a considered rework of the fixed route that there is a bus out to the new Hooters so we can all have some wangs and beer!!!!!

justforfun 6 years, 1 month ago

Awe screw it! How about all rides free! All paid for by the 70% voters who feel we need the T. Hel I'll ride once just to get in your pockets just like you got in mine. Keep hearing "now lets fix it" give me a break!!! watch OUR money go driving around MT.

justaverage 6 years, 1 month ago

Hey Roger - Add this tax increase to our already high sales tax, property tax, income tax, vehicle tax, telephone tax, sewer tax...starts to add up doesn't it? Do you ride the T? I don't ride the T. I would support a ride on demand system if feasible. Smaller buses using alternative power sources such as electric or natural gas should be considered. Just wait until diesel is back up to $5.00+ per gallon and see if the current T system makes sense.

justforfun 6 years, 1 month ago

Enjoy the nice new tax you voted for you libral do-gooders!!!Buch of fools!!!What's next= oh lets help all the unemployed with free bus passes to ride to the free paycheck pick up place!!! Just wait it's coming!!! Supported by the do-gooders union of America who support all tax increases for the helpless!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"Come to us first with a plan to support, then ask for the money. Don't ask for the money without a plan to fix what is so horribly broken."We can all agree that this would have been preferable. But the city commission chose not to do that. Instead, they singled out public transportation among a long list of publicly funded programs for an up or down vote.So now we need to take the funding that has been approved a very wide margin and improve the system so that it's more efficient and more usable for more people. The city commission has a clear mandate to do so, and if they fail to do so, it will be a major issue in the upcoming city elections.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

The vast majority of students likely didn't even vote, consumer1.

tir 6 years, 1 month ago

The citizens of Lawrence have saved the T, but now we need to fix the problems with the system so it serves the community better! Now is the time to put pressure on the city commission to revamp the bus routes so more people will want to ride the T, and move towards replacing the current diesel-guzzling pollution-factories with more fuel-efficient buses.

d_prowess 6 years, 1 month ago

People are acting like local taxes just went through the roof and we are way out of bounds when compared to the other major cities in this area. Topeka is the only place that will be lower according to the below ljworld article. But I guess that is an option though for those of you that want to waste gas and more importantly your time...http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/oct...

tribalzendancer 6 years, 1 month ago

Do the opponents of the T not realize it will only cost them 25 cents per $100 spent in Lawrence. Most people give way more than that giving a few dollars to someone in need a couple times a year. Have the opponents of the T lost their sense of the common good? "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper" I believe it's in the bible. Honestly I am a little shocked that some people do not find a personal satisfaction in contributing a small amount to the long-term progress and welfare of our city.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

There is no factual data that supports the continuation of the T. The only reason one can support the T is through pure uninformed emotion. No doubt with a newspaper running totally biased stories, a "grass roots" effort to flood the media with letters and an electorate tilted significantly toward pseudo-progressivism this year, the effort to bring factually relevant data to the discussion was seriously hampered.I will say it now: within two to five years, the city will be looking for more money to fund this failed system and there will be no significant ridership increase during this same period.It's fine with me. In some ways it is better. We are in for significant economic difficulty and Lawrence has yet to feel a serious pinch. Increasing tax rates right now for failed systems is exactly the wrong thing to do and will help Lawrence down the spiral until people can't fool themselves any longer. Lawrence is in trouble and has been in trouble for a while and this will simply hurt it more in the short run. Enjoy.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

The really amusing part is that "progressive" Lawrence voted to tax the very people the pseudo-intellectuals claim to be championing: the proles and the petite bourgeoisie. In this great leap forward, it will be the bourgeoisie that will suffer the least. Suckers.

4paz 6 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence has spoken. Now the commissioners must try to fix the problems with the T, or they will be voted out. I think they read this forum, or why else would the think that Lawrence wanted to get rid of the T? Only depressing naysayers usually post here; it's not the real Lawrence. So, commissioners? Did you get the message?

SMe 6 years, 1 month ago

Now it's time to have some hard discussions with the wimps on the city commission who wouldn't do anything about revamping the system to make it actually serve the residents of Lawrence!

redmoonrising 6 years, 1 month ago

My son uses the T-Lift three times each week day. It's a wonderful service for people unable to drive. But to tie it to the T and threaten it's loss as well didn't sit well. Even those vans, capable of holding several riders drive around with one or two passengers. Why not use something that size for the T in general and smaller vans with lifts that could still transport a few people, even in wheelchairs, for the T-Lift?

justforfun 6 years, 1 month ago

Hey MomThat's the problem!! to many people just say oh it's only a few cents. Problem is cents turn into dollars and dollars turn into to 10's and 20's

Jaysbird 6 years, 1 month ago

The issue is not the 10 cents on a $100 sale.The issue is we are going to continue to support a broken system with a promise to fix it later. Come to us first with a plan to support, then ask for the money. Don't ask for the money without a plan to fix what is so horribly broken.We could take the money currently being spent and fund a program that with a new design would better serve those who need it.This is just like many other bureaucratic systems that are so failed, the public school system for another example (just look at the latest standardized test scores), that we just keep spending more money on without the desired results.Keep in mind folks all those pennies here and there add up, and until we stand up and say no more the status quo will never change.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

Because the sales tax passed, Larry doesn't think he will be able to afford to tip his waitress 15 or 20%? Come on, get real. Is your spending really going to change because that $10 lunch tab is going to cost you an extra 2.5 cents in sales tax?

d_prowess 6 years, 1 month ago

Trob, all of your stats are accurate and I respect your view, but I was taking exception with you saying the T was not important. I think when 70% of the voters aproved these two taxes, they claimed the T to be important. Even with low ridership, the majority of Lawrence have made clear that public transportation is something they want, that it is important, and they are willing to subsidize it for the good of the community. Now let's shift the focus to fixing the system (better routes, additional revenue through advertising, partnering with the KU system, etc...)

bearded_gnome 6 years, 1 month ago

SMe, that work starts with the Public Transit Advisory Commission, meeting in one week. ***Huuuuuuuuuurrah!! I am very happy this passed and such a strong vote in favor. some of us know this is not the end, but the beginning, time to roll up our sleeves and get some things really changed about the fixed-route, and even look for ways to decrease the per ride cost of para too. thank you Lawrence.

enima18 6 years, 1 month ago

Hurray for socialism. I sure hope everybody in Lawrence is happy to pay for this stuff for next ten years. If they can't generate enough revenue from ridership, perhaps its not a good idea. Oh well, Ill just shop outside of Lawrence so I don't end up paying for it.

madameX 6 years, 1 month ago

One more time, enima, the point of public transit, or any other city service is not to make money, it is to serve the community and make this a nicer place to live. This applies to parks & rec, road maintenence, fire, police, etc. If ever it did start to become profitable then great, we can all have a tax break, but quit complaining about how it's not self sufficent because it's just not that kind of animal. The T sales taxes will come to $0.25 for every $100 spent. I daresay you'll spend more than that in gas driving out of town to do all your shopping to avoid them.

Lori Nation 6 years, 1 month ago

Great now all the college kids are going to ride anywhere anytime for free. They need to pay. If not expand the free service to public school attendees since taxpayers are paying to keep the buses going

Jaysbird 6 years, 1 month ago

This is a joke right!!!When will we learn that the way to fix a broken system is not to throw more good money after bad money? This system has been mismanaged from the beginning and the attitude of give us more money and we will make it better is a disgrace.I will now do everything I can to not spend any money in Lawrence to keep my money out of your pockets.

Trobs 6 years, 1 month ago

Mom of three - For me it's not about the taxes. I dread taxes, don't let me fool you, but my vote against the T wasn't about that. It was about a broken system that we will continue to fund. Let's make a comparison. Social Security - Going broke fast. Needs a revamp now. Instead congress throws money at it and forgets about it. T - Broken system. Bad routes, sparse usage, need to get fixed. Instead, throw more money at it it might work. Same philosophy, I for one expect the same results. We're just going to revisit the problem down the road instead of getting a real fix. Then again, in our country this is no surprise to me.

d_prowess 6 years, 1 month ago

Trob:Important stuff gets money first. Less important stuff gets it second. Not so important stuff you make a wacky sales tax for.Obviously giving the huge majority vote for the T you can't say it is not important stuff. It may not be important to you, but about 70% of Lawrence thinks it is important. And I do agree with many other posts here, while the taxes were passed, that was always only the first step. We now need the LJWorld to keep up with its daily coverage of this issue focus on demanding changes to the system.

Trobs 6 years, 1 month ago

If this fixes the T I will admit I was wrong and applaud it. However, I am a complete skeptic in thinking that now the bus system will work and people will ride it.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

"tribalzendancer (tribalzendancer) says: Have the opponents of the T lost their sense of the common good... The price of gas is going to go up significantly in the next few years and if we don't use the T now, we will be glad it is there then."Right. I love these appeals to "common good" because everyone knows that one has no sense of common good if one is opposed to taxing the proles to keep funding a worthless system. On the other hand, if one is for further burdening of the proles, one understands the common good. Sure.If your argument is that we should have a system for when oil is expensive, why not build the system when oil is actually expensive for a prolonged period of time? Why not wait to build a system until there is a demand for it? It isn't like planning a highway. It doesn't require significant lead time, relatively speaking. The previous statistics showed that as gas prices increased, T ridership decreased - so the system would have plenty of time to go online for peak oil.

XEPCT 6 years, 1 month ago

LOL at the naysayers here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trobs 6 years, 1 month ago

D_prow -51,000 people voted. 70% of them voted for the T. Roughly 35000 people vote for the T. Does the T get 35,000 riders a month? According to this paper..."The city reported Friday that ridership on the T in September is up 19.8 percent from September 2007. A total of 35,276 rides were provided on the T during the month."35,276 in the month of Sept. Rides. Not riders, but rides. I am going to guess that of the 35,000 people who voted yes on the T, not all of them ride it. If they did, I would guess we would have more then 35,000 rides a month. To simplify it for those that aren't following along. 35,000 Rides for the month means each of the voters for the T rode the T one time. One bus trip.I have friends who ride it everyday. Let's say 10 people ride it everyday. 5 days a week to work, school, what have you. That's 50 rides a week. Or is it 100? Does a ride count each time you get on the bus? Let's say it does. So the 10 people ride 10 times a week each. This is not counting side trips, weekend trips, etc. Just assuming two rides a day for work. If we assume that, only 3500 people in a town of 80,000+ are using the bus. Now, that's just one possibility. Perhaps a ride counts when they pay, if they ride for the rest of the day it doesn't count. Number goes up to 7,000. Still less then 10% of the city using the bus. I am sticking by my comment of a wacky tax. Fix the T. Throwing money at it won't make the problems go away.

roger_o_thornhill 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm not following you trobs, I think I was typing @ the same time as you, but here it looks like I may be coming after you like that other thread and all. I better just go.Monorail!Monorail!Monorail!

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

yes, $10's and 20's, and may a hundred for some people, but not the end of earth shattering i can't feed my kids type of scenario some people are saying. You can't fix the T if it isn't around. I have seen more concerned over an extra few pennies than the gas prices that were through the roof. But when you think about that some will not be able to tip because his bill is an extra 2.5 cents more, that is pretty sad reasoning, isn't it?

Fishman 6 years, 1 month ago

I can't believe this passed with the percentage it did. I do think we need a bus system, but get rid of the old gas guzzlers that have NEVER been full, and use some Dodge Sprinters or the like that get great gas mileage and still hold a dozen or more people. That's really all Lawrence needs. Now we'll probably have a bunch of new buses on the road spewing pollution with 4 or 5 passengers. Makes no sense to me at all.

Phil Minkin 6 years, 1 month ago

Responses to the pathetic:"Lawrence residents got by before the "T" and would have gotten by now, without it." We got by without penicilin, paved roads and public education, but some things improve the quality of life for many so why go back? Like the SNL character: "we walked 10 miles to school--and we liked it""I'll be doing my shopping in topeka while gas prices are down." Almost too stupid to respond to, but spending $$ on gas, wear and tear and wasting time to save .25% --priceless!

justaverage 6 years, 1 month ago

Nice, I guess it is "PC" to have big buses driving around town with no riders. It looks hip. Nothing like raising taxes in a bad economy. This will impact small businesses in Lawrence. You will see numerous small businesses in town folding next year. Is Eagle Bend still losing money too?

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

"foodboy (Anonymous) says: "I'll be doing my shopping in topeka while gas prices are down." Almost too stupid to respond to, but spending $$ on gas, wear and tear and wasting time to save .25% -priceless!"Your response is the one that is almost too stupid to discuss. You might have noticed that quite a few people in Lawrence work out of town. Thus it costs them no more money in gas to shop where they work because they are making the trip anyway. Another example: if one is buying electronics, there is absolutely no reason to purchase them in Lawrence when one can look here and then buy online - tax free - and generally not pay shipping..

lunacydetector 6 years, 1 month ago

in a city with so many smart people, i find it hard to believe this sales tax passed. so much for thinking lawrence was full of smart people. if you ride the MT, it costs the taxpayers $8.00 per ride.on another note, last night i noticed sw jr. high didn't have any vote results listed. what was up with that?

redfred 6 years, 1 month ago

redmoon - I'm with you on the smaller buses like the pariT. Rapid City SD uses those and it seems to work fine for them. Rapid also has a central terminal location like poster suggested several weeks ago. Take the vacant lot at 9th and NH and make it central hub location and get the buses out of the middle of 9th and mass

thebaker 6 years, 1 month ago

I think it should be mandatory that if you voted yes to the mT sales tax that you should have to ride it.

Eric Neuteboom 6 years, 1 month ago

I'll take my crow medium rare, please...I hope the city does redefine the system to eliminate waste and increase efficiency. And I have to admit surprise at the margins by which this passed, wow!

justthefacts 6 years, 1 month ago

I normally tithe 5% of my income to my church and give another 5-15% a year of my total income to other charities like Goodwill, the Humane Society, the United Way etc.. But that will have to get scaled back because of the folks who insist on making me donate to THEIR chosen charities. It is a statistical fact that conservatives give more to charity then liberals. Look it up. Taxation of this kind is all about imposing your values upon everyone else. It is easier to give if you have no choice & are making everyone else do so.

AjiDeGallina 6 years, 1 month ago

Consumer,Most students vote absentee in their home districts.

alm77 6 years, 1 month ago

Informed - hear, hear!! I voted for it. I've written the proper authorities regarding it on more than one occasion and will continue to do so. I would love to be involved and show my support however I can. Now that we "saved" the T, we need to FIX IT!!

cowboy 6 years, 1 month ago

Goes to show ya the majority of voters are just big softies. I'm real concerned we have let the city folks off the hook here , time will tell but I see nothing to indicate that there is any leadership present that will turn this albatross in the right direction , if they haven't done it by now when will they ?

BigPrune 6 years, 1 month ago

This is just like the Education issue. The more money they throw at education the worse the scores. Tax dollars seem to be the fix-all for liberals. If liberals had common sense, the outcome would've been different.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 1 month ago

Cheer Now.Cheer Early.Cheer Often. ... nanny, nanny, boo-boo...!

cozy 6 years, 1 month ago

I dont really think people understood the whole T situation. They just thought "Oh No! They are trying to take public transit away! We cant allow a city take a public service away! What will the surrounding areas think of us?!" But it costs us waaaaaaay too much to operate and doesnt bring any revenue to the table.Also, for the love of christ, why cant they find somewhere else to stop other than on 23rd street in the middle of rush hour?! Or not even at rush hour: Oh, like its soooooo hard to just pull onto a side street-(Ousdahl for example) than to create accidents and back-ups?!

Trobs 6 years, 1 month ago

And that Bowhunter, is exactly my problem with the taxes in the first place. If history teaches us anything, it's that politicians never sell exactly what they are saying.

rachaelisacancer 6 years, 1 month ago

Larry - In all seriousness, you only wore that uniform (plus benefited from the health care, education and other benefits it affords) with our support. Please, men and women of the military, stop acting like you are god's gift to America. And your service to America is duly honored - both your military service and the taxes you pay to keep this nation running.

JayCat_67 6 years, 1 month ago

Aw c'mon guys... It should be worth a little extra to you to know that for the next ten years you won't have to expend any extra effort looking for something to b!tch about...

Chris Ogle 6 years, 1 month ago

I voted no, and my vote was in the minority. I agree with this type of process, and will do what I can to support the T, including purchasing items in Lawrence.Please work on making the T more cost effective. It will be a long and grueling process, but don't give up. Now is the time to monitor the system closely, and make the changes when the numbers prove change is in order.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Then again I was informed recently that at the end of each budget year there is approximately $15-30 million still available. It seems public transportation could be moved into the general budget in the near future. I say this is something to think about in the very near future and would be the most fiscally prudent move. The city commissioners now know the citizens want public transportation so there should be no problem moving public transit into the general budget. City commissioners were surprised at the level of support which I contend was their fear. Now they know. Let's do the right thing and put it in the general budget.

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