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Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

City commission to act Tuesday on special tax district near Sixth and Wakarusa

Voters will go to the polls in November to decide the fate of three sales tax proposals. But on Tuesday, Lawrence City Commissioners will debate a different type of sales tax increase.

October 13, 2008

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City commissioners Tuesday will be discussing a sales tax proposal, but it may not be the one you expect.

As voters prepare to decide in November a trio of sales tax questions that would increase Lawrence's sales tax rate by 0.55 percent, commissioners at their weekly meeting will decide the fate of a full 1 percent sales tax increase.

Developers of a proposed shopping area at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive are asking commissioners to approve a special 1 percent sales tax that would help developers pay for streets and other public infrastructure needed for the project.

City commissioners have been receptive to the idea, in part, because the project - dubbed Bauer Farms - will be a unique development designed in a way to mimic older neighborhoods and downtowns.

"I think this really is a pretty reasonable way to raise money for infrastructure," said City Commissioner Boog Highberger. "My only fear is that would create a perception that our sales taxes in general are higher than they really are."

But the development group -which is led by Lawrence businessman Michael Treanor - have said the special 1 percent tax is necessary to pay for an extensive amount of public infrastructure needed for the project.

The way the new taxing district - called a transportation development district - would work is that the city would collect the tax, and then reimburse developers up to a total of $5 million plus financing costs for work done to build public streets, turning lanes, traffic signals, sidewalks, and sewer lines. The developers would be required to privately finance the work. None of the special sales tax money could be used to build privately owned facilities, such as retail or apartment buildings.

The special sales taxing district would become the second in the city. Earlier in the year, commissioners approved a special 1 percent sales tax to be charged at the Oread Inn once that hotel is completed at 12th and Indiana streets.

The new Bauer Farm project would be directly across the street from a Wal-Mart Supercenter that is under construction on the northwest corner of Sixth and Wakarusa. The Bauer Farm development is slated to be anchored by a CVS drug store, and also include several restaurants and other retailers.

The special taxing district would not extend to cover the Wal-Mart store. For example - if voters approve all three sales tax questions in November - the new Wal-Mart would charge a sales tax of 7.85 percent. The CVS and other developments across the street would charge a rate of 8.85 percent.

Mayor Mike Dever said he's fine with that scenario because he thinks consumers will become aware of the difference and will be able to make their own decisions.

"I doubt that this extra tax will impact the development's business in any negative way," Dever said. "When they see the kind of infrastructure they're putting in place, the type of common areas they'll have, the general quality of the development, I think a lot of people will agree it is worth something extra."

State law requires voters to approve increases to the citywide sales tax rate, but state law does not require voter approval of the special sales tax districts. The districts have become fairly common in parts of the Kansas City metro area.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Comments

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Why don't the businesses simply charge more for their products/services in order to generate more revenue?The city doesn't need to be involved in this at all.

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

maybe a new store there will be BIGLEW?

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence struggles to maintain its characterwhile fragmentation read suburbanization continues.the extra tax district is not really that harmful and will simply be a burden to bear for that development.if Bauer Farms wants to take on that risk - so be it.suburban sprawl / another WalMart / downtown continues to have a hard time against big box.of course i am a downtown central Lawrence advocateand bascially against big box bourgeoisification.

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Raider 5 years, 6 months ago

Matressman, if they were developing something similar to Legends, this might actually be ok. However, we're getting more of the same. A CVS, Walk-Mart, etc. How about some decent middle to upper end retail establishments that people actually want to sho at? As it stands, if you are a 30-something man there are no decent selections for clothing and footwear in this town. Penney's and Kohl's just doesn't cut it. How about bringing some of those "Legend" type of stores to Lawrence? While we're at it, can we get a decent movie theater? Something special like Legends might be worthy of special tax rate areas, but more of what we have all over town is just ridiculous.

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KS 5 years, 6 months ago

A littel tax here, a little tax there. Between these folks (City) and that "O" guy that will be "YOUR" next president, you ain't seen nothing yet. He is going to "spread around the wealth". He said that, not me! Aren't you glad you work so hard just to give it away to those who don't want to work? Hang on to your booties.

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Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

MattressMan wrote: "Seems that this is development paying for itself which is what everybody is always screaming about."Nonsense. Money doesn't grow on trees. Its comes from somebody's pocket. Whose? The taxpayers, in the form of higher sales tax. We, the people, are paying for the development. I am all for the free enterprise system. If the developers want to build, and think they can make a buck. Fine. But they ain't gonna share their profits with us. So why should we pay for costs which traditionally are borne by the developer. Just more welfare for the rich.

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hail2oldku 5 years, 6 months ago

foodboy (Anonymous) says: Just imagine if the city had the same kind of deal to fund improvements with a location specific sales tax with the Riverfront or Tanger Mall. Blood from a turnip would be easier than $$ from those 2 ghost towns. In these times, this is a really bad idea.What part of privately financed do you people not understand. The developer is on the hook for the money upfront and is paid back by the taxes generated. If the development tanks, then the developer is the one out the money not the public.

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

sjschlag (Anonymous) says:Isn't this the same mechanism they have in place to fund the Oread Inn?not quite the same.The Oread Inn was different in that #1 the Historic Resources commission voted unanimously against the project and then the City Commissioners decided to in part 'help' the project through TIF funding created from a 1% special sales tax to provide $11million in funding for the privately owned building (Tom Fritzel/Tim Fritzel/Tom Sutherland - the three t's) so that they could get about 1% less on their loan for the $11million.that extra sales tax will go first to pay off the $11millionto help with buildiing the privately owned garage, hotel, and two floors of condos for sale on top.

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Phil Minkin 5 years, 6 months ago

Just imagine if the city had the same kind of deal to fund improvements with a location specific sales tax with the Riverfront or Tanger Mall. Blood from a turnip would be easier than $$ from those 2 ghost towns. In these times, this is a really bad idea.

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MattressMan 5 years, 6 months ago

My apologies if I have offended someone to where my post was removed.This idea of a special tax district is new to Lawrence but certainly not new in the area. Do they post at the Legends on every door that there is a special tax or any other JoCo/KC area where these taxes are levied? I've never seen a sign. I said in my earlier post if you do not want to pay the extra tax then do not shop in the development.Read the article and it says " The developers would be required to privately finance the work." All the sales tax does is allows city to collect the tax which is returned to the developer to pay for the infrastructure. Seems that this is development paying for itself which is what everybody is always screaming about. And if anyone has followed the devlopment over time remember it's not just about a drug store and restaurants, there will be offices and housing involved as well. If you live/work in the area you will likely patronize the local business thereby supporting the tax and paying for their own neighborhood. And don't forget the property that will be added to the tax rolls too.

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Raider 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't agree with the idea that we are in essence using public monies to fund a private development. You can argue that this is a matter of personal choice, and if you don't want to pay the extra 1% tax then shop somewhere else. However, do you really think that Joe-shopper is going to realize this? This is a blatant attempt by developers to pass their expenses on to the public, and still reap the profits. No public financing for shopping centers!!

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sherbert 5 years, 6 months ago

I didn't realize that different businesses charged different sales tax rates. Are there others around town that do? I agree that it should be posted at the door, why would anyone go to CVS if they could pay less at Walgreens or Walmart?? I think the city needs to disclose full details.

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sjschlag 5 years, 6 months ago

Isn't this the same mechanism they have in place to fund the Oread Inn?

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tolawdjk 5 years, 6 months ago

""I doubt that this extra tax will impact the development's business in any negative way," Dever said. "When they see the kind of infrastructure they're putting in place, the type of common areas they'll have, the general quality of the development, I think a lot of people will agree it is worth something extra.""The quality of the develpment? A drug store is a drug store. Who gives a rats ass about "common areas"? You have a frickin drug store as your anchor business. This isn't the Plaza and anyone with half a brain will go to either the a) Wal-Mart across the street, b) any of the half a dozen Walgreens who don't charge you a cent more on your scrips, c) a local run pharmacy.Encouraging local development and business is good, but when will development pay for development and not look for govt. handouts? I just can't seem to reconcile this notion in my head that these people are against govt. handouts, except when the the govt is handing out to them.

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ese 5 years, 6 months ago

If the T doesn't stop there I won't be able to pay the tax.

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missmia 5 years, 6 months ago

"I doubt that this extra tax will impact the development's business in any negative way"How you do you not see that this will negatively effect the business? I live across the street from where this development is going in and there's no way I'm going to shop there if it costs more than anywhere else, that doesn't make any sense! If these comments reflect the majority of Lawrence's views, we probably don't have anything to worry about because it doesn't look like it'd pass.

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Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 6 months ago

A question that is not answered by the article - what happens if the businesses collecting the 1% sales tax close up shop prior to the improvements being paid off?Are the developers on the hook for the improvements or is the City of Lawrence?Other than that, who cares about the 1% tax for this district? You don't like it then don't shop there. Pretty simple equation.

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MattressMan 5 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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SMe 5 years, 6 months ago

Can you believe the bobble heads are actually thinking this is a good idea?QuoteThe special taxing district would not extend to cover the Wal-Mart store. For example - if voters approve all three sales tax questions in November - the new Wal-Mart would charge a sales tax of 7.85 percent. The CVS and other developments across the street would charge a rate of 8.85 percent.End quoteI wonder to whom Wal-Mart gave how much! Or did they just whisper in the developer's ear about how easy it would be to get something like this pushed through - past the bobbleheads?Can you also believe nobody's discussing this because the "T" vote has garnered everyone's attention? Is that why the wording and the fact that there's two votes for the "T" funding - so that pulls even more attention away from the "benefit district." Oh, that's a good term.Benefits the developer and benefits Wal-Mart.

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Godot 5 years, 6 months ago

Not to worry, there plenty of people who will be more than willing to pay extra to not have to rub elbows with us common folk who shop at Walmart.

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KU_cynic 5 years, 6 months ago

At least with this idea there is merely a sales tax surcharge, and not an effective property tax abatement and diversion like at the Oread Inn development. On one hand, this is a way to finance infrastructure for some commercial development in west Lawrence, where most of the "new" households are. On the other hand, these west Lawrence commercial developments will cannibalize some commercial activity (and sales tax revenues) generated currently by other businesses at other locations in Lawrence. I fear that in ten years time we will have a lot of new commercial activity in west Lawrence (along with new tax-provided or subisized infrastructure) while commercial activity declines or goes down-market elsewhere (23rd Street, Mass. Street) and infrastructure in those areas crumbles. In short, the "good side of town" versus "bad side of town" aspects of our community will become even more exacerbated.

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Larry_The_Moocher 5 years, 6 months ago

sjschlag (Anonymous) says: "To be politically correct, the sign should also have the information available in Spanish for those who do not want to learn English."It's not that people don't want to learn english- they are too busy working for less than minimum wage to learn english.______Just think... If you would spend as much time trying to get a job that pays above minimum wage as you do spreading your uneducated bs in this forum... maybe you would change your position.

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Keith 5 years, 6 months ago

This will be too small for a Legend, more like a myth, or maybe a fairy tale. The retail in this development will need to be unique in Lawrence to con anyone into paying the extra tax.

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honestone 5 years, 6 months ago

Just think...we can have another Legends right here in Lawrence...we are so happy. Two first class high school stadiums too. It is a good thing that we have so much money in these hard times. Johnson County will envy us...

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none2 5 years, 6 months ago

texburgh (Anonymous) says:AMEN! to Marlboro Man.This proposal amounts to the city pushing shoppers to the sprawl mart that the neighborhood objected to and Wal Mart fought the city to its knees with their army of lawyers. I propose a special sales tax be levied at the new Wal Mart which could be designated as reimbursement for the city's legal costs in defending themselves against these parasites.And that would even the playing field with Bauer Farms.================================I may not be a fan of Wal-Mart, but the city screwed themselves. Wal-Mart wanted to build, the city put up conditions. Wal-Mart met those conditions, the city made up more conditions. Wal-Mart fought back. The city should have either made ALL their conditions known the first time, or they should have been happy that Wal-Mart met their terms.Also, the city gets involved way too much. For instance, when Home Depot first wanted to build, they wanted to put in a bigger store. The city wouldn't let them. As a result we have a smaller store. So we have a lot of unused parking spaces, and other buildings that Home Depot owns that just sit vacant. It was a stupid move.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Why are taxpayers giving tax dollars back to developers? Developers and their friends on the City Commission are the ones who wanted the project. Lawrence,Kansas can live without another retail center as we have lived without it for the past 30 years or more.This center will be a drag on the tax revenue cookie jar and will further expand economic displacement which means in order for it to survive the center will need to steal away sales and tax revenue from elsewhere in the city. Thus no new economic growth or tax revenues. Another hit on the 31st and Iowa business district as fewer cars drive to that area.However the new infrastructure will expand the cost of community services to the taxpayer by way of resurfacing,salting,snow removal,water line repairs,street light maintenance and energy cost,traffic light maintenance and energy cost etc etc.

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sjschlag 5 years, 6 months ago

"To be politically correct, the sign should also have the information available in Spanish for those who do not want to learn English."It's not that people don't want to learn english- they are too busy working for less than minimum wage to learn english.

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none2 5 years, 6 months ago

I think that the only way they should be allowed to do this is to have a big sign stating: "Stores in this shopping center have an additional 1% extra on the sales tax. (To be politically correct, the sign should also have the information available in Spanish for those who do not want to learn English.)

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

let's see how smart the public is on where they shop -somewhere with a higher sales tax, or ---prediction in the current economy anyone?

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texburgh 5 years, 6 months ago

AMEN! to Marlboro Man. This proposal amounts to the city pushing shoppers to the sprawl mart that the neighborhood objected to and Wal Mart fought the city to its knees with their army of lawyers. I propose a special sales tax be levied at the new Wal Mart which could be designated as reimbursement for the city's legal costs in defending themselves against these parasites.And that would even the playing field with Bauer Farms.

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Marlboro_Man2 5 years, 6 months ago

How about we let the person who will make all the money off the development pay for it? Why should I pay more taxes so Doug Compton can make money off of it?

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toe 5 years, 6 months ago

This tax will be insufficient to pay for the entire development and the general taxpayer will be required to step in. This is a micro project tax. Imagine the sucker that buys anything from the CVS or any other store located on that property.

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Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

And another think, Booger, sales tax, as you should know from your so-called "anarchist" days, is inherently regressive. What about the poor and working folks you profess to champion. You revealed your true colors the moment you sh$t backward right after you were first elected, when you agreed to dilute the living wage ordinance, contrary to your campaign promises. You are just another cowardly hippie simpleton. You repulse me.

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Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

Boog, there is nothing "progressive" about you. You are a charlatan and a fraud. Let the costs of the streets come out of the huge profits the developers and multinational merchants are sure to make on the project. Boog, you are a yellow-bellied, hypocritcal, chickensh*t sycophant. It boggles my mind that so-called "progessives" think you are one of them. But then again, maybe you are?

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Thats_messed_up 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe I could get a special tax passed for my cul-de-sac so we could get the street light bulb changed that's been out for over a year.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 6 months ago

Will it be like Verrado? Check that out folks.

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