Archive for Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Worthy tax

September 9, 2008


To the editor:

The reason that we need to vote for a slight increase in our city sales tax to support the T is that there is no money allotted for our bus system in the 2009 city budget. There will be two questions on the ballot on Nov. 4 pertaining to transit, numbers 2 and 3. For every $100 spent in Lawrence, 20 cents would go for operation of the T and 5 cents for maintenance, for a total of 25 cents. Without this small amount our bus system will pass out of existence, as will the para-transit system for disabled persons.

No one expects public transportation to be self-supporting, especially a starter style one such as ours. So if we lose it, we will also lose the federal and state funding that we now have, as well as the potential of expanding into a more comprehensive plan and the possibility of combining with KU on Wheels.

It will be much more expensive and difficult to start over again in a few years as people cut back on the use of cars and the emission of carbons. Let's keep what we have and Vote Yes for Transit!

Sarah Casad,


KURocks 9 years, 8 months ago

How about they charge more for the bus fare, so that the don't need to raise taxes. When the USPS isn't profitable, they raise the cost of a postage stamp. Is the concept really that difficult?

coltrane 9 years, 8 months ago

from LJW article 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.

Jeff Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

First, let me preface this message by saying that I don't know all of the details on the operation of the T, so what I'm about to say and propose might be foolish. If so, then please fire away at will and consider this post an opportunity to flame...("OH NO!" my best Mr. Bill voice). I wonder why the T went from the small, shuttle type buses they started with to the bigger metropolitan size busses. In my opinion and from talking with my friends, the problem with the T is that it is just too complex to use. There aren't enough busses running each route so you have to keep checking for which time to try and get to a stop and if you miss it, you'll be waiting at least 1/2 hour. If the T used smaller vehicles, but ran them much more often, say every 10 minutes, then I bet the ridership would increase. You wouldn't have to worry about checking schedules, since you know the most you would have to wait is 10 minutes. It also seems that smaller shuttle type vehicles would fit in better with the size of the town. Once ridership demand increases, than bigger vehicles can be considered. It just seems they jumped the gun on going for the big metropolitan bus system look before actually doing a proof of concept. Heck, why not just get a ton of cheap station wagons and run them every 3 minutes on each route..that would be unique.

gr 9 years, 8 months ago

"No one expects public transportation to be self-supporting,"Does anyone know if it was initially presented that way in order to get it funded?"So if we lose it, we will also lose the federal and state funding that we now have, "And where does federal and state funding come from? Taxpayers!So when a losing taxpayer funded "service" because is determined it should no longer be sucking funds, should anyone whine about more taxpayer funds not funding that so-called "service"? We should rejoice when taxes are no longer squandered on something that is determined not worthy. Unfortunately, those "saved" taxes will find some other drain to be sucked into. Then, a question becomes, if taxes are going to be wasted anyway, should we grab our piece of the pie? And that attitude, folks, is why taxes are so high.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 8 months ago

Where's merrill? He's usually on these bus threads like a duck on a June bug.

coltrane 9 years, 8 months ago

here it comes - the question of why we have to increase sales tax for transportation - when earlier this year the same commissioners approved TIF financing for a private project which removes from the coffers $11 million dollars to pay for a private garage over the next 20 years ?The Oread Inn vs. the 'T'

Godot 9 years, 8 months ago

The Federal funding is an earmark. Both presidential candidates say they won't allow those in the future. Can't count on any future Federal money for the EmpT.

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

It will be much more expensive and difficult to start over again in a few years as people cut back on the use of cars and the emission of carbons.Two pretty big assumptions there: 1) That everyone buys into the anthropogenic causes of global warming and chooses to cut back on carbons, and 2) that even if they did, they won't choose carbon or carbon-free cars instead of public transportation.

skinny 9 years, 8 months ago

I am voting no for all three.The high taxes in this city are killing me already.

LogicMan 9 years, 8 months ago

Anti-tax/T folk: Be sure to write letters to the editor over the next month or so. The most likely voters are the least likely to read this electronic forum, on average. There's a "submit your letter" link at the top of these LJW webpages.

gccs14r 9 years, 8 months ago

I don't know how anyone got the idea that the city buses are large. KU on Wheels buses are large, but even they pale in comparison to an articulated bus. Salina is putting in a bus system. How stupid will it be for us to kill off ours? It was bad for the Commission to de-fund the bus system and make its survival hinge on a sales tax vote. If the tax fails and the bus system disappears, it'll be at least five years before one can be started up again, and it probably won't have the benefit of a blue-state subsidy. What should have happened is that the City should have continued to fund the T at its current level and given us the option of increasing funding (and therefore service) via either a sales tax or mil levy increase or both, with both being the better option for fleshing out what can now only be called a part-time skeleton service. All we can do now is vote for the tax to let the system limp along as it has been, then at the next election replace the Commissioners with people who understand their duty to the public. Then we can start work on a functioning, sustainable public transportaton system, one that doesn't require fossil fuels and preferably one that doesn't require operators.

TacoBob 9 years, 8 months ago

How did the Oread Inn get into the discussion? Oh wait....Fund the T, but with no tax increase. That means cutting something else. Oh wait......can't be done - won't be done.

BobSmith 9 years, 8 months ago

I'd like to offer my support for the continuation of a viable mass transit option in Lawrence and encourage others to vote for the tax increases required to fund it. No doubt the existing system can be improved and be made more cost efficient and forums like this are an excellent place to propose and debate such ideas. Mass transit is exactly the kind of social and environmental infrastructure local communities should provide for their residents.Bob

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

MV Transit is the 23rd largest employer in Lawrence,Kansas.The T & KU on Wheels Public Transit is the 23rd largest employer in Lawrence,Kansas. This money is supporting our local economy. No community can afford to lose an employer of this magnitude. 55.5% of the T's annual funds or $3.3 million comes from the State and Federal Government. No other city service can say that.Public Transit in Lawrence uses just 1.1% of the city's total FY08 Budget. (Park and Rec's Budget exceeds T's FY08 budget by nearly 6:1)70% of the T's contract dollars pay for wages,benefits and other personnel costsThe T's income from fares has risen steadily, and last year rose 50%.The T's annual number of passengers passed 400,000 three years faster than in JOCO.The T & KU on Wheels Public Transit is the 23rd largest employer in Lawrence,Kansas. This money is supporting our local economy. No community can afford to lose an employer of this magnitude.Empty cars cost taxpayers tons and tons of tax dollars! Witness all of the repaving projects occuring as we speak usually on the same streets.

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

"The T & KU on Wheels Public Transit is the 23rd largest employer in Lawrence,Kansas. This money is supporting our local economy. No community can afford to lose an employer of this magnitude."Wow, even for merrill this is a moronic argumant.First off, even if the T is put to rest, KU will keep their bus system. Is merrill really trying to say that a city of nearly 100,000 can't afford to lose 64 jobs? If that's the case, we'd need a sales tax increase to bail out almost every business that was in danger of closing.Second, a city can't afford to lose a large employer - if it's a private employer. What a city can't afford is to keep funding a useless, non-productive workforce at taxpayer expense. By merrill's logic, we should increase spending for the T a thousand-fold. We could have hundreds of empty buses driving around the city around the clock - and then, as Lawrence's largest employer, we wouldn't be able to stop funding it.What merrill is arguing is that an 'excellent' use of tax dollars is to pay a bunch of employees to ride around and accomplish nothing. Brilliant as always, merrill. Maybe we can double the sales tax, and pay a bunch of people to go around and wax the sidewalks.

gr 9 years, 8 months ago

":but what does voting 'no' mean? Wouldn't it mean "We don't care about you:we can't afford you:your independence is too expensive:you are too much of a burden to us:you're not worth it, you're independence is not worth it. You are a bother..go away. You are a parasite to our community."Andy, given your attitude, we just as well make it a 50 cent tax increase. Otherwise, we would be saying we don't care for the poor and elderly.But why stop at 50 cents? Let's make it $1.50. For every dollar you buy, you pay regular tax plus $1.50 for the T, because, we don't want to say "you're not worth it".Just because someone is "worth it", doesn't require brains to be turned off. It doesn't mean running a failing system. It doesn't mean an open-ended amount of taxation.So what if it gives someone "jobs". If the job they are doing isnt' worthwhile, there is no sense in taxing everyone else just to pay them. In fact, close the T and just give "workers" the taxes as welfare and we'd come out ahead by saving the fuel and other expenses.Don't vote no to the poor, the elderly, worthwhile jobs - But do vote NO for stupidity!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

YES for Transit!KU on Wheels and The T has approximately 127 full and part time drivers.(63 The T/64 KU on wheels) About 50% are full time. The City has 3 staff on the payroll. When the total number of employees are in to include the Lawrence MV management and supporting staff the number of employees will climb above 131 I predict. Lawrence,Kansas cannot afford to lose this employer.Starting wage for all drivers is $10.17 per hour. All drivers receive the same wage.After 6 months full time employees:Health and Dental Care401KA level Mechanics receive $18.00 per hourC level Mechanics receive $12.62per hourAs is obvious MV Transportation is one of the best employers in Lawrence,Kansas.Bringing federal and state tax dollars BACK TO LAWRENCE,Kansas to assist in actually paying a living wage plus benefits is excellent use of tax dollars. These wages allow people to support themselves,buy a home perhaps and in general help support the community. This makes dollars and sense.If these tax dollars did not come BACK TO LAWRENCE,Kansas Wichita,JOCO,Manhattan,Salina,Colby,Garden City,Emporia,Hays,Hutchinson or Newton would possibly have these tax dollars in their towns assisting tax paying transit employees make a decent living. Yes all of these Kansas towns either have or are bringing on public transit.Yes for Transit!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Between KU on Wheels and THE T, MV Transportation produces a $3.2 million annual payroll in Lawrence,Kansas.No one works for less than $10.00 per hour at MV transportation=excellent use of grant, local,state and federal tax dollars. Let's keep bringing more of our tax dollars back home for respectable wages.The .025 public transporatation sales tax = 25 cents on every $100.00. The vote will require checking off 2 initiatives and will be numbers 2&3 FOR Transit.

gr 9 years, 8 months ago

"and encourage others to vote for the tax increases required to fund it"No matter what the cost may be?

Objective 9 years, 8 months ago

Merril's information on employment, revenue and expenditures is impressive. I didn't research the information, but I'll take it at face value. One item that I do know is misleading is the ridership information. He stated that 400,000 rides were reached three years faster than Johnson County - that's terribly misleading. The vast majority of those 400,000 rides come from the KU On Wheels-operated park-and-ride route. The three buses for that route were purchased with money originally earmarked for The T. Lawrence could not provide the local match, so the Kansas Department of Transportation suggested that the money be utilized for KU (with the University paying the local match). If you look on the back of those three buses, there's a sticker stating something related to this. Due to the fact that the funding originally belonged to The T, they claim all the ridership from that operation. Well over 200,000 annually. That being the case, the ridership on actual T buses is pretty poor. Johnson County's K-10 Connector service gets more rides daily (more than 1,000), than does the entire T system (when you deduct the KU park and ride system).

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