Archive for Monday, September 29, 2008

New group campaigning for passage of three city sales tax questions

A sales tax to pay for street and infrastructure improvements now has a public champion.

September 29, 2008


Sales tax endorsements

Endorsements are starting to come in for a trio of sales questions that voters will decide on Nov. 4.

The Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods voted to support both public transit sales tax questions and a third sales tax that would support infrastructure projects, said Gwen Klingenberg, president of the association.

But the League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County has stopped short of offering a full endorsement of all three taxes. Instead, the league has endorsed only the public transit sales taxes, said Carrie Lindsey, president of the league.

Lindsey said the league traditionally has had concerns about new sales taxes because of their regressive nature. But Lindsey said the league agreed to endorse the public transit sales tax questions because of the organization's long-standing support for public transportation in Lawrence.

The league will hold a forum on the public transit issue from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.

Election 2008

In-depth coverage of the candidates and the issues, all leading up to the Aug. 5 primary and the Nov. 4 general election.

A pair of Lawrence attorneys - one a prominent Democrat and the other an active Republican - have created a new group to campaign for passage of all three city sales tax questions in November.

Dan Watkins and Brad Finkeldei are set to launch a new campaign titled Yes for Lawrence that will urge voters to approve two sales tax questions related to public transit and one sales tax question dedicated to infrastructure improvements in the city.

It is the first group that has set up an active campaign urging passage of the infrastructure question. Another group - Campaign to Save the T - already is active in urging voters to support the transit questions.

Watkins said it is important that voters don't let the high-profile debate over the future of public transit overshadow the need to approve the infrastructure sales tax.

"It is pretty clear that we have deferred a lot of maintenance on the streets, and that work is really needed," Watkins said.

The infrastructure sales tax - question No. 1 on the ballot - would create a new 0.30 sales tax for 10 years to fund street improvements, fire truck purchases, stormwater improvements, sidewalk upgrades, and hike and bike trail construction.

In particular, city staff members have suggested portions of Bob Billings Parkway, Kasold, 19th Street and Wakarusa could be rebuilt if the sales tax is approved. Also planned are a stormwater pump station improvement for North Lawrence, construction of the Burroughs Creek Trail in East Lawrence, $500,000 a year for fire truck purchases, and $500,000 a year for residential street maintenance and sidewalks.

Watkins said the group plans to run an active campaign, including purchasing advertisements in local media urging people to vote for all three sales tax questions.

Finkeldei said one strategy will be to convince voters that new sales taxes may be better than the alternative. Finkeldei said he's concerned that if the sales taxes fail, future city commissioners will be under pressure to increase property taxes to fund infrastructure needs.

"I think the consequences are far reaching if these questions fail," Finkeldei said. "It would leave the city with three choices - let our infrastructure deteriorate, increase our property taxes or cut other parts of the budget. None of those are really very good, viable alternatives."

The campaign hopes to attract supporters from across party lines. Watkins previously has been one of the more active campaigners in the state for Democratic office seekers. Finkeldei - who is a Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioner - has been active in several local Republican races.

Thus far, a group has not officially organized to urge voters to reject the sales tax questions. But Jim Mullins, a coordinator for the Americans for Prosperity group, said his organization is considering an active vote no campaign.

"There are a lot of people who are living on the borderline right now," Mullins said. "There are a lot of retired people on fixed incomes who can't afford this."

The election will take place Nov. 4.


jumpin_catfish 9 years, 2 months ago

Bring it on, we're ready to vote it down. Vote No on mT and any other tax increases.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 2 months ago

Tax Question Number OneProjects include the North Lawrence stormwater pump station project? Is this in preparation for the North Lawrence Warehouse Project? How much will be spent?Planned major street projects include: 19th Street, Iowa to Naismith; Bob Billings Parkway east of Kasold; and portions of Kasold and Wakarusa needing reconstruction.(some of the newest west lawrence streets included)Exactly on what streets will the be tax dollars be spent?What sidewalks and how much? (I prefer wider sidewalks over streets.)Exactly how much will be spent on each street project? How much on the rails to trails project?Exactly when will the tax dollars be spent?Will this money be spent to extend the city limits thus expanding our tax bills? not itemize the list that would allow taxpayers to choose how much they wish to spend? Taxpayers are wiser than some officials may think.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 2 months ago

in the other article, we learn that as they ask for this tax increase, more roundabouts are planned! these must be stopped. our streets are broken, we have to raise our sales tax to fix them, and sidewalks! yet, here come the roundabouts! if we vote NO on #1, can we stop the roundabouts this way. if we vote NO on #1, will it force the fools downtown to take the roundabout money and just fix the streets with it? while I support some of what is proposed under question #1, I am angry and betrayed to see that more roundies are coming! do these people want to sink question #1 by this revelation?fix the streets, stop the roundies, traffic cushions [lol] traffic obstructions, needless complexities, and increased hazard for pedestrians! vot NO on #1!

easmith14 9 years, 2 months ago

Left wing, Right wing...they all sound like a bunch of birds to me Lawhorn.

Jeanne Cunningham 9 years, 2 months ago

What is the NAME of the new group?Do they have a WEB page? if so, what is the URL?

whatupdown 9 years, 2 months ago

Put a special tax on structures built in the last 10 years or homes over 150k in value, why make everyone pay for the out of control growth again and again and again.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

Our country is in crisis mode, Lawrence is already broke, and whats the proposal.... More taxes.... very smart move. It's time to live within our means...Vote NO to any new taxes.

Godot 9 years, 2 months ago

Wonder how much money these pro-T people are spending? I see lots of signs. No doubt there will be ads.Would be nice if those folk would spend that money on their own transportation instead of trying to force others to pay for their ride.

Sigmund 9 years, 2 months ago

Your kidding right?No, no and double NO! Get rid of the T and use the savings to fix the worst streets within the budget cause you f'ing credit line is going away. No more corporate welfare for MV Transportation! The City had learn to live within their budget and the time for that is running out very fast.

MattressMan 9 years, 2 months ago

Why don't all of the anti-T/tax people pool their resorces and start campaigning like the pro-T/tax people? If sitting behind the computer screen and saying no,no,no is the best that can be done then you all will have nobody to blame if they pass. Except of course the lousy commissioners, city workers, transit workers, developers and let's not forget George.

Phil Minkin 9 years, 2 months ago

Sigmund (Anonymous) says: Your kidding right?No, no and double NO! Get rid of the T and use the savings to fix the worst streets within the budget cause you f'ing credit line is going away. No more corporate welfare for MV Transportation! The City had learn to live within their budget and the time for that is running out very fast.Exactly where do you think these "savings" will come from? If the tax fails there are no funds. Then you can look for property tax increases to pay for needed infrastructure repairs and replacement. Also to replace outdated fire trucks.

skinny 9 years, 2 months ago

Vote no for any kind of Tax inrease!We are in a recession right now.Our property taxes are high enough. No new taxes, vote "No:"!

truckfan 9 years, 2 months ago

I love the folks who want to live in beautiful Lawrence, yet don't want to pay anything for it. Take youth sports for example. Look at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka and all the sports facilities in Johnson County. since we dont have a good industry base (see prior adminstrationcity council stuck in the 1960s) we must rely on sales tax to fund infrastructure and community development. otherwise 30 kids sports team must vie for 5 baseball fields, and our historic neighborhoods have potholed streets and millions of dollars of deferred maintenance. ever think about how many tourists and nonresidents contribute to the sales tax revenue when they eat, drink and shop downtown? lets look past our the end of our nose on this one

Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

LeslieJeanne (Anonymous) says: Why, oh why, can't you anti-bus people understand that people need the T to get to work, shopping, doctor, pharmacy-----------------------------------------------------------I will pay taxes to support a demand response service, saving approx. 1.7 milliion per yr..... Of course, I am guessing that just will not suffice. You demand more than that!!!!!!!! signed, taxed out

matchbox81 9 years, 2 months ago

Roundabouts are cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain, and safer than signalized intersections. Plus, roundabouts keep traffic flowing a lot quicker than 4-way stop signs. I wish there were a few more roundabouts on Campus. Complain about tax increases, or complain about bad infrastructure. It doesn't make sense to complain about both.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 2 months ago

I used to vote pro-life. Now, I think I'll just vote "no tax" everytime.I don't care WHAT the taxes are for. In the end, we ALL suffer from tax increases.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

I think this new group's primary goal is to get the "infrastructure" tax passed, which is really a trojan horse to get a dedicated funding source for developer-friendly projects. I also think they couldn't care less whether the bus initiatives pass or fail.

dpowers 9 years, 2 months ago

Once again, I love it how the neo-cons complain about the condition of the city streets, yet want to vote the T down. The T serves a purpose. It gets more traffic off of the city streets. Does it need to be reworked? Yes! Should it get voted down? No. If you have problems with the T then GET INVOLVED TO MAKE IT WORK BETTER!!! THEN VOTE OUT THE COMMISSIONERS WHO CHICKENED OUT BY PASSIING THE BUCK INSTEAD OF DEALING WITH THE ISSUE!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps the commission should have let us vote on the new wal-mart, too! But now the T will serve another purpose for it and those who support the new Wal-Mart. How else are all of the people who are going to work at the new Wal-Mart going to get there? They certainly won't get paid enough to be able to drive their cars to work. How many of you neo-CONplainers carpool? I carpool to work every day. I see hundreds of empTy cars on the road. If you don't use the T and you are CONplaining about the condition of the city streets and the traffic, then you need take a close look at what you are saying, or stop complaining!!!VOTE YES FOR THE T AND NO TO THE INFRASTRUCTURE TAX!!!!

Eaglepass 9 years, 2 months ago

I hope that in counting the numbers of riders on the "T", they have not included the homeless that have city paid passes in the total numbers of riders. Why ? Why did the city purchase homeless, non tax paying citizens?? or are they??? free no cost pass to ride the "T"? Is this to show that there are a lot more riders then actually ride the "T"?

Eaglepass 9 years, 2 months ago

If the "t" must stay why not have smaller buses or vans, non diesel powered, less expensive vehicles , few routes or less overlapping routes!! If 1% of the population needs transportaion, then perhaps some restructing and waiting in the city built and paid for bus stops is still better then hoofing it to the walmart to use their vision cards?Again I must say what did all those folks do before the "t"???? No more taxes, sales or property taxes for the "T", If it can't be self supportive then it must go. If things are seriously so finacially bad for them restructure, get smaller vehicles, less routes and increase fares. If the "T" must stay then all of these things are still better then a good old walk to the dirt dillions to get you $900 cash for who knows what? Where do I sign up for this???

LeslieJeanne 9 years, 2 months ago

Why, oh why, can't you anti-bus people understand that people need the T to get to work, shopping, doctor, pharmacy. What will happen if people cannot get to work and lose their jobs? What will happen to their families? How will the already strained resources that help those in dire need absorb any more? You have a tiny little heart, Mr. Grinch. The working class who are working one and sometimes two jobs to support families deserve a little recognition and support from the community.Vote yes across the board. Vote yes to keep families in their jobs and in their homes. Vote yes to keep those on SSI and Social Security independent and able to move about the city when they need to. Vote yes for the common humanity and decency of it.

KsTwister 9 years, 2 months ago

"No" it is. Enough red herring in this town.

sjschlag 9 years, 2 months ago

"I will pay taxes to support a demand response service, saving approx. 1.7 milliion per yr"Demand Response Service! finally, someone with some ideas! I've been reading about this service on the web- it's fairly new technology and would be perfect to serve some areas of Lawrence where demand/ridership for the T is low. We'd definitely be able to save some green by not having empty buses running all over the place all the time, and people who use the service would like the fact that they can choose when they want to go, and where their bus stop is. Trouble is, it's not perfect for everywhere in town, the technology is very sophisticated and probably costs alot. Hopefully the powers that be look into it.

dipweed 9 years, 2 months ago

A big no vote from me. When will this country stop taxing it citizens for its inability to balance its checkbook?

Professor_Marvel 9 years, 2 months ago

Can Marci Francisco make up her mind on this one? Fred Phelps is probably opposed to the T.

Meatwad 9 years, 2 months ago

If they'll fix 8th Street between Tennessee and Kentucky, I'll vote for it!

Prairielander 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm still thinking about the T-Tax. My gut tells me that the system needs to be self supporting or it needs to go. The infastructure tax seems like a no brainer. I grew up in the land of ice and snow, so I don't think are roads are all that bad, but there certainly are other needs like sidewalks, fire trucks and the North Lawrence pump station that I'm willing to pay for.

BigPrune 9 years, 2 months ago

Our economy is on the verge of total collapse, but dagnabit we need a bus for 1% of the population and we need some more roundabouts. We also need a bike path for the tree huggers in a scary part of town in a park named after a drug addicted wife killing homosexual. Only then will our little world be right.Of course if our economy goes down the toilet, Lawrence won't have any money at all - even if the sales taxes pass.Move along, idiots at work.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 2 months ago

matchbox:that's the problem, these wheenies want us to vote for question #1, while in the other hand they're holding plans for more roundabouts! instead of the roundabouts, just take care of those needs listed under question 1! we have a third of our streets rated "broken" and the streets listed in the info on question 1 aren't even the worst. yes, the north lawrence pump station, sidewalks, necessary. fixing the broken streets, quite necessary. but they're telling us more roundies are coming! if we vote no on 1 can we stop the roundabouts? hope so. they are a pedestrian hazard too. demand response service is interesting, but again limited in capacity, and may not improve on per ride total costs which we have now. paratransit per ride total cost is $21! if question 2 passes, para continues, and the system can be improved on the fixed-route. question 3 passes, and needed improvements can be made to increase ridership. increased ridership dramatically cuts per ride total cost on the fixed-route which is now $6. I am glad to hear the city manager today talking about what I have been pounding on for months: future fixed-route system, dehub many routes, cut time to get across town, and more will ride.
vote NO on #1 against YES on 2 to protect paratransit because it is tied to the fixed-route system by federal money.*vote YES on 3 so fixed-route system can get more riders and cut total per ride costs. and, get more riders on it instead of on more expensive para. disabled users use the fixed-route too.

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