Archive for Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yes’ to sales tax

Three sales tax proposals on the Nov. 4 ballot are important to maintaining Lawrence’s quality of life.

October 26, 2008


Maintaining city streets and sidewalks, managing storm water and providing firefighters with up-to-date equipment should be among the basic responsibilities of a city government. A public transportation system is a vital necessity for a number of local residents as well as being a desirable amenity for a progressive community.

It's unfortunate that Lawrence finds itself in the situation of having to depend on a sales tax increase to catch up on maintenance and save its public bus system. However, that being the case, the Journal-World encourages Lawrence voters to support the three ballot questions that will raise the local sales tax by a total of 0.55 percent to fund those services.

Many local residents are raising legitimate questions about how the city has arrived at this juncture. It seems that money should have been put aside to take care of the infrastructure projects that will benefit from the 0.30 percent tax proposed in Question 1 of the ballot. The funds from that tax will be directed to street and sidewalk maintenance, improvements to stormwater facilities in North Lawrence, building and maintaining recreational trails and purchasing fire equipment.

The infrastructure projects - with the possible exception of the recreational trails - are essential to the safe, smooth operation of the city. The additional sales tax will allow the city to maintain those services.

The other two sales tax questions will decide the fate of the city's fixed-route and paratransit T system. Question 2 provides for an additional 0.20 percent sales tax to fund the system, and Question 3 would raise that tax by 0.05 percent. Commissioners have not included any funding for either the fixed-route or paratransit system in next year's budget. Without the sales tax, they say, both will be eliminated.

The City Commission's approach to the T has been disappointing. Although both Lawrence officials and residents seem in agreement that significant changes are needed to improve the service and financial viability of the T, the commission has failed to attack any of those issues. Even many who support the T find it difficult to approve the sales tax proposals when the city has provided so few details on its plans to improve the system.

Nonetheless, the T is an important service for people who don't have cars or, for a variety of reasons, are unable to drive. Adults use it to get to work and medical appointments; young people use it to go to school and participate in activities. With uncertain energy supplies and a sagging economy, the demand for public transportation is likely to increase. If the T is killed now, it is highly likely it will have to be revived in some form within a few years, perhaps at a far greater cost.

If the transit sales tax is approved, the community should hold commissioners' feet to the fire to make sure positive changes in the T's operation are made, including a closer working relationship with the Kansas University bus system.

The sales tax is not a popular funding method especially in a state that applies that tax to necessities such as food. On the positive side, an additional 0.55 percent tax will add only 55 cents to a $100 purchase and will leave Lawrence's sales tax roughly comparable to what is charged in many other area cities. Another important factor is that the tax comes with a sunset provision that will eliminate the additional tax in 10 years.

Raising taxes is a tough call in the current economy, but the questions voters will face on Nov. 4 are important to maintaining and improving Lawrence's quality of life. We encourage local residents to vote "yes" on Questions 1, 2 and 3.


Godot 9 years, 7 months ago

Vote No. This city commission, this city manager, do not deserve to receive any new taxes to waste.

notajayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

After seeing something on the order of four or five hundred mT-related stories in the award-winning LJW over recent weeks, I'm so surprised to see this editorial. I mean, who would have suspected that the folks brining us the objective 'news' about the mT might be trying to influence peoples' votes?

notajayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

mickey1454 (Anonymous) says: "I don't like higher taxes any better than anyone else, but at least a sales tax is paid for by ALL members of the community (i.e. students) and visitors...""...and visitors..."Just another way of saying let's get people who will never use the mT or benefit from it in any way to pay for it. Great.

Godot 9 years, 7 months ago

Increasing taxes during a recession is insane.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

"Why did they insert this Burroughs Trail improvement into the street improvements?"At $350,000, it is a cheap way to get some votes for this tax increase out of people on the east side, while nearly all the rest of the money will go for picking up the tab for west-side sprawl. A little money is thrown in for N. Lawrence to get their votes, too, although I think the motivation there is primarily to make it easier to push through the development near the airport."How many people use this park/trail anyway?"Given that there currently is no park/trail, that number is likely somewhere around zero. I think this is a worthwhile project, as is the N. Lawrence project, and we likely do need some new some new fire trucks, but coupling those with a nearly blank check for corporate welfare is the wrong way to go.

BigPrune 9 years, 7 months ago

Why did they insert this Burroughs Trail improvement into the street improvements? How many people use this park/trail anyway? I'm sure the City has the numbers. I bet it is less than the ones that use the M-T.Vote No to all of the sales tax increases, and if the City chooses to raise the mill levy, kick all of them out.But it was really quite cowardice to put this on the ballot in the first place, especially during a presidential election. All the loons will be out in force and we will have a big ass empty bus system "revamped." The City is run by free spenders who cave to the minority special interests. Pork, pork, pork barrel spending. I don't like to be porked by the government.

David Klamet 9 years, 7 months ago

I'm thinking I'll vote:...for the 2 transit related issues (with reservations) because I think they are important, even if the system has been (in my opinion) mismanaged....against the infrastructure proposition as the city has not made it's case or adequately communicated the justification.....and against all incumbents on the city commission as I see it as their job to keep us informed and to provide a detailed justification on issues such as these.---------------------------------------------------------------I have worked for a number of large companies and even those that were poorly run required written justifications for major purchases and expenditures. Why is the city any different?

dano 9 years, 7 months ago

When you're the cable guy, it's easy to champion higher taxes upon those who are not so fortunate as to derive their income from a monopoly.

knowuh 9 years, 7 months ago

i never voted yes for the income tax... in a completely related story..

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 7 months ago

I will vote no at least twice maybe three times. If they can do it in Chicago so can I. Isn't that the way America works nowadays?

mickey1454 9 years, 7 months ago

I don't like higher taxes any better than anyone else, but at least a sales tax is paid for by ALL members of the community (i.e. students) and visitors, not just property owners. Might as well try and get PART of the tab picked up by non-property owners.

PapaB 9 years, 7 months ago

I have never, ever, seen sales taxes lowered. This would be a permanent tax increase, so I vote NO. I don't care what it's for. I'll just pay someone $300,000 to do a study on it.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 7 months ago

Guess no one had problems voting Yes for the election in April. That's right, they made sure to put that election on a date nobody would vote.

tunahelper 9 years, 7 months ago

No to the m'T.Vote early,Vote often,Vote NO!!!

gl0ck0wn3r 9 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if Richard Heckler feels slightly dirty knowing that he is sharing the "tax the proles" bed with Dolph.Seriously though... with the non-stop positive spin on the T from the LJW, is this editorial a shock to anyone?

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