Archive for Wednesday, September 3, 2008

City to help fund party downtown

City Commissioners agreed Tuesday night to prime the pump for a new two-day, downtown party.

September 3, 2008


City commissioners are in the mood for a downtown party, even if it requires closing down parts of New Hampshire Street and making a substantial donation to the party fund.

Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to provide $20,000 in funding to help pay for Get Downtown, an event that will attract about a dozen bands to downtown Oct. 3-4.

Commissioners also agreed to allow the organizers to block off the 800 block of New Hampshire Street during the two-day event, and agreed that the festival could sell alcohol.

"It looks like it could be a great event," said Commissioner Boog Highberger.

Several organizations have banded together over the past two years to host an event featuring bands, food and festivities prior to a KU home football game. The past two years, the event has closed Eighth Street down between New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets.

But this year organizers want to make the event bigger by stretching it out over two days and moving it to the 800 block of New Hampshire street. The upside for the city should be that more people will attend the event, which will not charge an admission. Jason Edmonds, a board member of the new nonprofit group - Just Like Lawrence Inc. - that is organizing the event said crowds could be upward of 10,000 people over the two days.

"And if we do this right, they'll want to come back to Lawrence," Edmonds said.

But the larger event comes at a higher price. The past two years, the city has contributed $5,000 to the event. This year's $20,000 donation will cover about 25 percent of the event's overall costs, according to the organizers - who also include local music promoters and downtown bar owners Brett Mosiman and Mike Logan. The city will take the money from its Guest Tax Reserve Fund, which receives money from the special tax charged on hotel room rentals.

The event will require the loss of some downtown parking. Parking in the busy city lot on the western side of New Hampshire will be prohibited from about 6 a.m. on Oct. 3 to 6 a.m. on Oct. 5.

City Commissioner Mike Amyx - who owns a barber shop next to the parking lot - voted against the event because he was concerned about lost parking for downtown businesses.

The event - which will have a rock climbing wall and other attractions for kids - will run from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 3 and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 4. The Downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market, which also takes place on Saturdays in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street, will be part of the event.

A list of bands for the event should be released by promoters later this week.


coltrane 9 years, 9 months ago

hey - they have already shoveled $11 million in sales tax receipts for approximately 20 years to fund a privately owned hotel ?what's the big deal about one party ?from LJW text:The city will consider approving Tax Increment Financing and a Transportation Development District for the project. The Tax Increment Financing subsidy will allow a portion of the new property and sales taxes generated by the project in the future to be used to pay for a parking garage and other infrastructure. The Transportation Development District will allow for an extra 1 percent sales tax to be charged to consumers on the property. The extra sales tax would be used to help pay for street-related infrastructure. The two subsidies are expected to amount to $11 million or less, according to projections by the city. The development group - led by the Fritzel family - has said the project isn't feasible without the subsidies. Commissioners previously have approved the zoning for the project, and have expressed informal support for the financial subsidies.

Ragingbear 9 years, 9 months ago

This is insane. We are losing the bus system, seeing our power bills skyrocket, and longingly wait for our roads to finally decay to a point where the city will have them fixed, so the city goes and blows a bunch of money to give free parking to game watchers and have a party downtown? Maybe we should show the city commission this concept of a thing called a budget, and how one can help them along the path of financial stability.

jayhawkjg 9 years, 9 months ago

Tax increases on the retired people to run the city, then give money to people to have a party? I applaude Mike for his nay vote.

coltrane 9 years, 9 months ago

hey Dacia Maher tried to tell you about the really really big Fritzel party using tax receipts closer to $20,000 a month for 20 years !from TIF TOOL story LJW 2008What does the public know about tax increment financing? This subsidy is being labeled by the city as one of the "tools in our toolbox" to encourage economic development. It is vital that we have community awareness and participation in our policy development regarding its usage.Next Tuesday, the City Commission will be deciding on the use of the TIF subsidy for the Oread Inn Hotel. To forfeit up to $11 million of tax revenue for this project without a sound city policy on this type of financing is irresponsible and unethical. This developer-driven process has lacked transparency and does not allow for adequate public participation.This type of public investment requires a thorough cost-benefit analysis to help ensure that we will be gaining more than we are giving up. It is the duty of the City Commission to adhere to the needs of its citizens and NOT to the timeline constructed by the developers.This Saturday the Lawrence Townsite Alliance is hosting a public forum at the Lawrence Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon. Whether your concerns are aesthetic or financial, the public is invited to attend and voice their opinion. The recent tension between the city and USD 497 over tax hikes should only highlight the need to examine the city's role in giving away tax revenue in the name of "economic development." Before voicing opposition to increased property taxes, look at the future city, county, and USD 497 revenues that will be diverted to private developments - without your vote.

scary_manilow 9 years, 9 months ago

Another horrid idea in a string of horrid ideas. The way this city is run makes me so angry I could puke. Hopefully I can hang on to that feeling until the next commission meeting-- what a perfect opportunity for me to present my "case" all over the podium. I'll make sure to stock my belly full of saurkraut and pickled eggs in anticipation of this blessed event. I can only imagine how hilarious the City's rebuttal will be.

doc1 9 years, 9 months ago

What about the unexpectd cost. Say you have to have an extra 5-6 police officers on duty those days. The average officer here makes about $30.00per hour. Overtime rate is a time and a half so thats $45.00 per hour. $45.00 per hour x 8 hours is $360.00 a day per officer. Now multiply that by a low estimate of 5 extra officers and thats $1,800.00 per day. Maybe my estimate is large, but I'm just throwing out the unknowns here.

thomgreen 9 years, 9 months ago

Special events bring more people downtown. I'm a little skeptical about the 10,000 mark that was mentioned in the article, but even if 5,000 people came out for this event that wouldn't have normally come downtown, do you think they'll all just be a bunch of "freeloaders" as someone so eloquently stated? Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. If anything, now is the exact time that a little extra money needs to be spent to try and generate additional foot traffic downtown.But I do find it ironic Brett Mosiman is part of the group asking for money from the city after threatening to take Wakarusa Festival away from Lawrence. Isn't that sort of biting the hand that feeds you?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

"Now Boog Highberger is in the party planning business. Insane."Hack,Dever and Chestnut are also on the planning business committee.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Let's see how sales tax revenues look after the event. This could generate a decent return if the party is receives good marketing. Then we must pay attention to how the tax revenues are spent? If they are spent on new light industrial or housing projects then taxpayers will be watching our debt aka money hole enlarge.If sales tax dollars are spent widening 9th,11th,13th and 15th east Lawrence sidewalks that is a good investment towards maintaining existing infrastructure in desperate need of attention. Once again let's see how sales tax revenues look after the event. I'm all for sports fans spending more of their money in Lawrence for a couple of days then returning to their homes. Then return and do it again and again then going back home with a smile on their faces.

Eric Neuteboom 9 years, 9 months ago

Excellent post, thom. Couldn't have said it any better, especially about Mosiman.

Janet Cinelli 9 years, 9 months ago

You people are so short-sighted! This is exactly what Lawrence needs and more of it! Don't you think that 10,000 people will spend in Lawrence?!? Food, clothes, CDs. And, with Brett Moseman at the helm, you know it will be well-marketed. Every thriving city in America has events that draw people to it. I think Lawrence has been thin in that regard. I say go, Boog! Go, Brett! Go, Lawrence!

Flap Doodle 9 years, 9 months ago

Worth repeating:"15 July 2008 at 9:09 a.m.spiderman (Anonymous) says::i am withdrawing from the forum:"

alm77 9 years, 9 months ago

I think you commenters either a) don't know how to do math, or b) are crazy. If each person spends only $30 during this event, the city gets their 20 grand back in sales tax alone. Businesses have higher sales for the weekend, stimulating the local economy. Illegal parkers will get tickets, raising more money for the city. As one person pointed out, our officers will get a bigger paycheck (good for them!) and it may introduce people to the downtown area again. I'm failing to see how any of this is a bad thing.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 9 months ago

Now Boog Highberger is in the party planning business. Insane.

Luxor 9 years, 9 months ago

Why don't they FIX THE DARNED STREETS instead???

Warren6032 9 years, 9 months ago

This is a terrible time to waste city money on a street party. It's time to tighten our financial belts. We're voting on spending our money on several important issues, and the city comm. just up a gives our money away. I just do not understand, unless the city comm. is just kissing downtown's Lawrence butts?

alm77 9 years, 9 months ago

jc, 10,0000 people x $30 per person = $300,000 in sales$300,000 x .073 (tax rate) = $21,900

PebblesFlintstone 9 years, 9 months ago

I'm wary of this idea. The prior Get Downtown events were to coincide with a football game, but the game that weekend is in Ames. Mosiman and Logan STILL haven't paid their vendors from Wakarusa (at least not the ones I know personally). And yet ANOTHER new group (Just Like Lawrence) formed to put this wingding together when we already had DLI and the Chamber to work on it, which seems odd to me. It could work out for the city if downtown stores stay open for the duration of the weekend and if the promoters bring in bands people want to see so I'll hold out hope.

another_concerned_parent 9 years, 9 months ago

Well, there goes my husband's cost of living allowance (not that the city was having any of that this year) and longevity bonus (cut in half this year, by the way). Just for all you anti-city workers, my husband is one of the few that you will see working while the rest stand around and watch.Don't cry to city hall when you do not get your streets, curbs or sidewalks fixed. Better yet or if your water main breaks and you have to go without water for a few days, while the city scrambles for money to fix the break, since nobody on the water department crew knows how to fix a break anymore. Why does the city contract out so much stuff that they have "specialists" for, especially HVAC?Way to go City Commissioners!!!!

laughmonkeyboylaugh 9 years, 9 months ago

This might be the worst idea the City has had in...20 seconds.If Bret Mosiman is at the helm, it's guaranteed to be a royal cluster***k. How has this moron managed to convince the City that they should fund Downtown Wakarusa Pest when he's clearly incapable of organizing any event successfully? Indeed, he HAS NOT PAID THE WAKARUSA VENDORS because he's such a competent business man that he loses money every year (he admitted it!). Do any of you realize the 'Wakarusa vendors' are NON-PROFIT organizations and that he is ILLEGALLY withholding tip money that was donated to these non-profits? I know one vendor who's close to taking them to court because of their contract violations. These are the people the City chooses to throw money at? Dispicable, all of them.

funkdog1 9 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, Emily, you said what I was thinking: it's very possible that this tax can ONLY be used for events such as this one.

Julie Jacob 9 years, 9 months ago

AlmI don't know how you do math, but last I knew the City's portion of sales tax is on 1%. Ignoring the "special tax" on hotel room rentals, there would need to be two million dollars of sales on this event for the City to get their $20K back. 5.3% of the sales tax is for the state (, 1% for City and 1% for County.

lily 9 years, 9 months ago

Cleanup, security and over not one but a 2 day period.I'm not taking my kids to it if they are serving alcohol. I don't have to be the one drinking it to cause issues with my own kids. So does this mean they can walk around downtown with an open container? I'm not totally opposed but 2 full days and 20,000 from a city already crying for money does not sit well with me. I get so tired of the "we don't have money for that" and then you turn around and there's money for something else. Oh wait, different fund so it's ok. That has never made sense to me.

Yabut 9 years, 9 months ago

Nero fiddling while Rome burns.....

Confrontation 9 years, 9 months ago

Transient Heaven! Have your spare change and concealed weapon ready.

Munsoned 9 years, 9 months ago

Concerned Parent--Well, maybe there will be SOOO much tax revenue from the event that the city workers will then be compensated what they have been since the 70's when longevity started. HA HA HA.........I kill me.

PebblesFlintstone 9 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, just couldn't let this one go. Emily Hadley says "Festivals are a good money-maker- just ask Mosimen."Really?? Then why did Mosiman say in the August 10th JW article where he was threatening to take his Wakarusa Fest and go home that Wakarusa has lost money the last two years? And why are the vendors still waiting for their money three months later?

MattressMan 9 years, 9 months ago

Isn't this the type of thing the hotel tax is for, promoting the city and business. I think I'd rather see them promote this than just give the 20,000 to the CVB and let them blow it on promoting a walking history tour or something like that.

KSChick1 9 years, 9 months ago


beawolf 9 years, 9 months ago

MattressMan, You are entirely correct. The tax is paid by visitors to the area so that it can be used to promote the downtown area. Any additional tax revenue is a bonus.

jayhawkjg 9 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone figure in the cost for city services, Police, Fire and Medical, crews to clean up the mess. Wages alone for that will take more than the city will make on the investment of $20,000. Voters, remember this when the next election rolls around. Mike will have my vote, No on the rest if they keep letting the Left influence their thought process.

Emily Hadley 9 years, 9 months ago

I believe the guest Reserve Fund is a huge tax that is specifically charged to those staying in Lawrence hotels who do not qualify as residents. In my experience in other cities, this tax can be 15%, so we make quite a bit from it. This tax is probably quite limited in what it can be used for, and bringing outside dollars and visitors to downtown Lawrence seems like a pretty good idea to me. If this use of the tax upsets you, I would say get educated on our various municipal, county, and state taxes and work to change them. Complaining here won't prevent it from happening again in the future. People probably complained in online forums when they spent $5000, but didn't take any action! Obviously, some benefit must have been recognized from past investments to compel the city to invest more. Festivals are a good money-maker-- just ask Mosimen.

alm77 9 years, 9 months ago

jc, I see what you're saying. I was counting the entire tax, not separating it out by government entity. Point taken.

laughmonkeyboylaugh 9 years, 9 months ago

Is he trying to raise money with this ridiculous idea to pay off his Wakarusa debt? Somehow I doubt he's that foresighted. More likely he's just pretending the Wakarusa debt doesn't exist and then got some schmuck (Edmonds) to start him a non-profit so he can pilfer the City funds. He's running his business like GW runs Social Security. If that's "Just Like Lawrence" I'm ready to move.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Hey city commissioners and Downtown Lawrence,I say have an October sidewalk sale going during this celebration now that everyone is back in town. It is my thinking that sidewalk sales in April and October would be evermore successful with music as part of the menu. Why not schedule sidewalk sales when students and families are in town? Talk about fun.Dancing in the street,artists hawking their works of art, Vinland Valley nursery selling beautiful plants = one heck of a sidewalk sale with local food and brew. Sounds like fun and revenue generation. Sooner or later April and October in Lawrence would on peoples calendars from California to New York city.

Julie Jacob 9 years, 9 months ago

In government accounting it's not as easy as it is at home to take "grocery" money and put it in the "entertainment" category. Many times there are resolutions or state statutes that dictate what you can spend money on if it was collected in a certain way. So in the instance of the Guest Tax fund, they could not take the monies there an use it for road repair. (I say this with the clause that I am assuming that this tax has a rule or regulation for it's collection and distribution.)I did email the City's Finance Director and this distribution will be less than 20% of this fund's balance.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 9 months ago

"Now, with this "Get Downtown" innovation the last two years, the self-absorbed movers and shakers of Lawrence have decided to turn downtown into an outdoor amplified music venue, an unprecedented change of the environment."I would be sympathetic, but this is only two days out of 365.

blahblahblah 9 years, 9 months ago

invictus, you are picked on because you run like a girl and you sit down to pee.

igby 9 years, 9 months ago

Party on because there's not going to be any sales tax increase!1, 2 or 3, will not pass!

Godot 9 years, 9 months ago

Who are they laying off in order to pay for this? I thought the city was broke.

PebblesFlintstone 9 years, 9 months ago

As some others have mentioned...The Guest Tax Reserve Fund can only be used for tourism/economic development purposes (unless things have changed). So no one is getting laid off, no streets are going un-repaired, etc. because of this party. The city couldn't use the money for those purposes anyway. But I still question the wisdom of throwing $20,000 at a promoter who can't (won't?) pay his bills and at a brand new agency that seems to be stepping on the toes of at least two other agencies who already work on promoting downtown events. Shady.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 9 months ago

Hmmmmmm! I sit here reading this article and associated blogs. Interesting! Many of you who are all in favor of this party were screaming at the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush Administration in other posts. II guess you were for fiscal responsibility before you were against it.

coltrane 9 years, 9 months ago

jerk_patrol (Anonymous) says:It looks like someone by the handle of Coltrane is engaged in multiple and repeated attempts here of hijacking the thread back to his favorite ad naseum topic of hotels on the hill.Dear Jerk, i love that opening......this is not 'thread hijacking' but simply comparison of the cost of subsidies.$20,000 for a party vs. $11 million in lost tax receipts which are substituted for ownership of a parking garage which will not be owned by the city that subsidized it.

coltrane 9 years, 9 months ago

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Flap Doodle 9 years, 9 months ago

I can't keep track. How many comments of coltrane's have been removed in the last 3 days?

coltrane 9 years, 9 months ago

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coltrane 9 years, 9 months ago

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

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