Archive for Friday, July 9, 2010

Opportunity lost

City commissioners should have given more thought to using sales tax revenue for the proposed library expansion.

July 9, 2010

Advertisement

The idea of using sales tax revenue to pay for at least part the proposed Lawrence Public Library expansion deserved more consideration than it received from Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday night.

Before commissioners voted to place the $18 million expansion project on November’s ballot, they were asked to consider using all or part of the city’s share of the 1 percent county sales tax to pay for the project. Using the sales tax would have reduced or eliminated the need for a 1.5-mill tax increase for 20 years to pay for library construction and a permanent 0.5-mill increase to cover additional operating costs for the new building.

Commissioners, however, dismissed the sales tax idea saying that voters who approved the sales tax expected that money to be set aside for parks and recreation projects. Although it’s true the sales tax was sold to voters at least partially on that basis, the actual ballot questions put no restrictions on how the money would be used.

However, even if the sales tax revenue was specifically restricted as being for recreation, it isn’t much of a stretch to justify the library as a recreational effort. The library may offer fewer physical activities than a recreation center, but many people certainly would consider the movies, books and other library classes and events as recreational activities. There’s no reason the sales tax needs to be permanently dedicated to building new recreation centers or playing fields especially when the city’s population isn’t growing significantly.

It would be especially appropriate to use sales tax revenue to fund the ongoing operating expenses for the larger library rather than permanently raising property taxes by 0.5 of a mill for that purpose. The 1.5-mill levy could be used for 20 years to fund the expansion and then eliminated.

Even some taxpayers who support the library expansion are concerned about increased property taxes, especially in the current economy. Shifting part of the expense of the expansion to the local sales tax might have mitigated some of that concern.

It’s too bad city commissioners weren’t willing to get a little more creative in their library financing plans.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps they didn't consider it because they still intend to use that money for a major sports complex somewhere on the west side where it'll help drive development.

John Hamm 5 years, 1 month ago

Or perhaps they just saw another reason to come up with a new tax so they'd have more of our money to spend as they saw fit?

Peter Macfarlane 5 years, 1 month ago

Our taxes are relatively low in comparison to taxes paid in other parts of the world. Get over it!

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Well sir, yours may be since I have no knowledge of what you pay. That said mine are quite high. Don't know where they sit in respsect to everywhere else but as a rate they are higher than any of the many places we have lived.

booyalab 5 years, 1 month ago

I lived in Mpls, MN, a quite liberal and much bigger city, before Lawrence and the sales tax was lower. It's still 1-2% less and there is no tax on clothing or food. Lawrence tax rates are absurd.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Our very busy library is a wonderful resource for adults and children. Yes this is a place we visit with some degree of frequency.

A mountain of books for parents to read to their children. And if we want to know who is cutting corners on appliances,cameras or cars there is always Consumer Reports to which I say thank you Ralph Nader.

This library is a great resource for those musicals of yester year starring such notables as Ginger Rogers,Fred Astatire,Bing Crosby,Gene Kelly,Donald O’Connor,Rosemary Clooney, Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, James Cagney,Alice Faye, Judy Garland, Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse, Mickey Rooney, Vera-Ellen, Jane Powell, Howard Keel, and Kathryn Grayson AND The Marx Brothers. Whoaaaa are these fun to watch.

Our older two children loved these movies and our youngest cannot get enough.

Yes the city should always maintain its existing resources such as streets,sidewalks and the wonderful resource known as the public library. Let’s allow the taxpayers to decide.

Yes is my vote without blinking an eye.

However I would like to introduce a fiscally responsible taxpayer friendly proposal. Options the city can live with that include no increase in taxes. Hats off to this concept.

The one cent sales tax that was approved in 1995 can generate up to $14,036,301 as of 2009. Obviously more in better years

The city portion of the county 1% sales tax can generate up $8,609,331 as of 2009 obviously more in better years.

The two together = $22,645,672 again obviously more in better years. So I say let’s use a portion of this to finance our library reconstruction. Let’s use the number 10% of this tax dollar revenue annually.

Choice: A. 10% annually = 2,264,567. 20 for 10 years = project paid off with existing sales tax revenue

B. 10% annually of city tax revenue only = $1,403,630.10 for 15 years with existing sales tax revenue

OR C. personal property tax increase ….. my last but least desirable choice.

Let the voters decide. The tax dollars after all belong to we the tax paying citizen. City Hall can and should respond accordingly.

Keith 5 years, 1 month ago

And what happened to the iconic Eames furniture that used to be placed throughout the library. It seems that it got sold off on the sly when it could have been auctioned off to the highest bidder.

puddleglum 5 years, 1 month ago

I always wondered what happened to all that cool stuff...I remember all the egg chairs...too cool!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Branch libraries are not an idea that pays back. Costs are too high. This concept has been studied more than once. The cost of leasing a building plus operations has been studied as well. I know because I have asked these questions. You can bet there are others who have inquired as well.

Downtown library has been neglected for too many years.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

merrill

What was the methodology for the study?

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

Odd. KCMO has done quite well with theirs for decades.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

That seems hard to believe.

Why not an "annex" that is used just for meeting space? There are many unused storefronts in the Tanger mall that have been vacant for years - I'd imagine the city could get a pretty good deal on one of those.

Using it for meeting space would free up space in the current location for other needs. And, if it's only used for meeting space, you wouldn't need checkout capacity or as much security.

That would also free up some parking at the current location.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Also, I don't recall voting for or against a 1-cent county sales tax - when was that up for a vote?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

county 1% sales tax not 1 cent

the city is 1 cent

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Ok, but when did we vote on that?

Stephen Roberts 5 years, 1 month ago

I love to hear Merrill defend why we should pay more in taxes for things he values but then condemns paying taxes on things he does not value. Maybe we should raise taxes on Merrill's house???

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

I am suggesting quite the opposite.

Did Consumer 1 NOT read that I offered a proposal that does NOT increase taxes instead encourages using an existing sales tax source?

How is that increasing taxes?

"I love to hear Merrill defend why we should pay more in taxes for things he values but then condemns paying taxes on things he does not value."
THIS makes me no different than you.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

There is no evidence that computers will ever replace books. Publishers are still paying out big bucks to authors.

Books and the library are still a point of reference in this household. Books books books and more books are a treasure of knowledge to behold. Books help children develop reading skills which is quite a valuable asset. Books,parents, children and libraries go together.

I would like to introduce a fiscally responsible taxpayer friendly proposal. Options the city can live with that include no increase in taxes. Hats off to this concept.

The one cent sales tax that was approved in 1995 can generate up to $14,036,301 as of 2009. Obviously more in better years

The city portion of the county 1% sales tax can generate up $8,609,331 as of 2009 obviously more in better years.

The two together = $22,645,672 again obviously more in better years. So I say let’s use a portion of this to finance our library reconstruction. Let’s use the number 10% of this tax dollar revenue annually.

Choice: A. 10% annually = 2,264,567. 20 for 10 years = project paid off with existing sales tax revenue

B. 10% annually of city tax revenue only = $1,403,630.10 for 15 years with existing sales tax revenue

C. personal property tax increase ….. my last but least desirable choice.

Let the voters decide. The tax dollars after all belong to we the tax paying citizen. City Hall can and should respond accordingly.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

merrill owns property - things thta might increase the value of his property are valued by merrill.

Note when you ask him about studies he references you never get an answer. Wonder if they exist or if they do who prepared them. Big Pharm is not the onlty entity that pays for what it wants and sells it as disinterested.

nobody1793 5 years, 1 month ago

I wish we could tax snarky bad attitudes. We'd be rolling in dough!!!

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

We'd make even more if we taxed stupidity.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you. Your way or the highway. Oh by the way you already tax the living c*rap out of me.

Katara, maybe you know the study he referenced. You know, you have never answered if you pay property taxes.

nobody1793 Do you?

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

More evidence that you do not read what people actually say and proves my point that we'd have more money if we taxed stupidity. But as long as you got yours, right?

Merrill said that branch libraries do not do well.

I said that the KCMO system seems to work pretty well.

Do you understand the difference in the two statements?

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Our local collection of urban outdoorsmen seem to like loitering around the library. Obviously their need for nicer surroundings justifies taxing the people who produce. Whats the problem? Its all about taking from each according to his ability, to giving to each according to his needs these days - right? Why are so many of you complaining about taxes? You have no right to your property (money) if the government says it needs it. Stop being so selfish. It's your duty as good citizens to produce so wise and all-knowing goverment can take from you and provide for the common good.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Want to know who did studies when you talk to the library board....

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

And what is the title and I will talk to them

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Vermont Street library location makes excellent use of an existing resource= fiscally responsible approach.

Converting the current parking to a double level is smart thinking and excellent use of existing resource that which is fiscally prudent.

There are some good decisions connected to the new design of our public library.

It is very smart to make better use of the existing building. I do hope the new building includes more windows thus daylight. Why? Because I find reading by daylight is more comfortable for my eyes.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Merrill, per How may hours week are you in the library?? We probably average maybe 20 hours per year. Would it be considered crass of me to ask what I am getting from the city that is useful and not provided to everyone since my use of the ,library hardly justifies the property tax increase sought.

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

Crass is definitely not the word you want. Rhymes with crass though...

You could always, I don't know... go to the library more if you are concerned that you are not getting enough benefit. They have videos. They have internet access. They even have books, newspapers & magazines that you can read AND take home for a period of time!

I am very surprised that you don't support the library. They provide many services to the very demographic you claim to advocate for. These services are paid for by your tax dollars. http://www.lawrence.lib.ks.us/senior/index.html#bookvan

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you Katara. Once again you use a personal attack to avoid answering a legitimate question.

I am not against the library; I am against the overblown and not fully conceived plan. I believe the library needs to be refurbished and updated. I believe that can be done without further significant debt and an encumbrance on all of us for twenty years (more city debt – and we already have a lot). I do not believe I need more meeting rooms or a new parking structure. I think meeting rooms should be obtained elsewhere for public use and public charge. The parking structure is more for "downtown" then for the library. I note you are blogging from there (I think).

Now why do I demand information about you and merrill. Because of the potential for a conflict of interest. For example:

No growth position: Freezing growth protects the existing homeowners and businesses. Values of homes will increase if no new ones are built. Businesses will avoid competition (markets will not exist) and that will lead to unnecessary costs for the consumer. If merrill owns property or is invested in "downtown" then he may have a conflict of interest and he should share it so we can assess the value of what he posts.

Tax increases: If you do not own property or are a big user of public services then you might have a conflict of interest because tax increases do not impact you but more amenities will be there for your use. If you are on some public program that doubles in spades. Those reading your not to illuminating posts should know that so they can assess the value of your contribution.

I have posted a lot of information on myself so readers can assess my interests because I too have conflicts.

What is that old adage: "where you stand frequently depends on where you sit."

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

Mmhmm, George. You will not get my personal information. You are not entitled to it. It is not a legitimate question for you to ask. There really is no point to asking for it as you are wasting your energy in doing so.

Yay for you on posting your personal information. You make the mistake in assuming your importance to or your impact on anyone on this forum. Please don't try to portray your ego issues as a concern for the readers' ability to judge the value of your posts.

It is pretty darn funny that you want to paint people who disagree with you as in some sort of "lesser" position. You allege I pay no property taxes. You imply that I must use the library to have access to the internet (If you were as observant as your portray yourself, you could easily figure out from the times that I post that would not be the case.). You not only imply but outright accuse me and others that disagree with you of trying to take what is yours.

We get it. You believe yourself to be entitled to all sorts of things but people who don't agree with you are not. They don't deserve it. They haven't worked as hard or as long as you. They are moochers off your hard work. People should automatically listen to you because you're old.

The tax increases in regards to the library benefit everyone, George - in particular the senior citizens - a group you have claimed to not only represent but practically champion here on this forum.

You still don't get it. You don't have to own property to pay property taxes. If you are a renter, it is built into your rent. Many attempted to explain this to you but apparently their attempts fell on deaf ears.

I am starting to get the impression that you long for the days when only the landed gentry had any input and the poor unwashed masses could just go suck it. After all, they aren't as deserving as you are.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

The idea of taxes is not that everyone simply pays for what they use.

That would be a private system, like restaurants or movie theaters.

Since I and my wife have no children, should we not be paying for the school system? Our use of it is zero, and it accounts for about 1/2 of our property tax bill.

Taxes are collected and spent on things which are supposed to be for the good of the entire community, not one person or part of the city. I have no problem with that idea, if the money is spent wisely and well.

It seems that you have a problem with the basic idea of taxation.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Hi JAFS

Not really. Taxation is what we pay for civilization. Unfortunately, we have created a tax system where a minority pays most of the freight while a majority benefits (common good). That suggests there is no natural limit to the level of taxation. "The power to tax is the power to destroy". Until everybody has to pay something for these amenities (so we feel the cost of what we want) we will continue to erode the middle through increased taxation as we ask very little of the very wealthy.

I posted my solution for the library – it is not nothing. It does eliminate subsidy for special interests (meeting rooms) and “downtown” businesses (parking). I think that is a legitimate objection. I most certainly expect to be ignored but I feel that it is my right and responsibility to speak (write) my mind. You know, we could create a special tax district “downtown” to pay for the parking structure that will IMHO benefit much more than the library. The only times I have had trouble parking there is when there is a meeting in progress and on street parking was a very practical solution. We could lease meeting space around town and charge for it. Most of the “public” meetings I have seen at the library are really special interests trying to influence public policy. They should pay for that.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Hi,

I'm not in favor of the library expansion and will vote against it.

Parking is a real issue there, though, especially when lots of folks go to the pool and park in the library lot.

Absolutely - participate in our system by making your feelings known and voting - it's the only way it has a chance of working the way it's supposed to.

It's hard to say what the "legitimate" uses of a library are, though - they used to be educational, and now seem to include recreational use (videos, cd's, etc.). I don't know about meeting rooms.

My suggestion would be to create an annex in the Tanger mall for meeting space, which would free up space and parking at the current location. It wouldn't require much investment, since it wouldn't need checkout capacity or much security.

The meeting space is not just for "public" meetings - it's also there to provide free meeting space for various citizen groups (again, I'm not sure if this is something libraries or cities should do or not).

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Katara (anonymous) replies… Reposted by Moderate so that anyone still following this thread can read it - the LJW collapse system sometimes runs off the page. A response is in works.

"Mmhmm, George. You will not get my personal information. You are not entitled to it. It is not a legitimate question for you to ask. There really is no point to asking for it as you are wasting your energy in doing so.

Yay for you on posting your personal information. You make the mistake in assuming your importance to or your impact on anyone on this forum. Please don't try to portray your ego issues as a concern for the readers' ability to judge the value of your posts.

It is pretty darn funny that you want to paint people who disagree with you as in some sort of "lesser" position. You allege I pay no property taxes. You imply that I must use the library to have access to the internet (If you were as observant as your portray yourself, you could easily figure out from the times that I post that would not be the case.). You not only imply but outright accuse me and others that disagree with you of trying to take what is yours.

We get it. You believe yourself to be entitled to all sorts of things but people who don't agree with you are not. They don't deserve it. They haven't worked as hard or as long as you. They are moochers off your hard work. People should automatically listen to you because you're old.

The tax increases in regards to the library benefit everyone, George - in particular the senior citizens - a group you have claimed to not only represent but practically champion here on this forum.

You still don't get it. You don't have to own property to pay property taxes. If you are a renter, it is built into your rent. Many attempted to explain this to you but apparently their attempts fell on deaf ears.

I am starting to get the impression that you long for the days when only the landed gentry had any input and the poor unwashed masses could just go suck it. After all, they aren't as deserving as you are."

July 10, 2010 at 10:46 p.m. permalinkreplysuggest removal

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Moderate responds to Katara

A response keyed to my interpretation of what you wrote.

"Mmhmm, George. You will not get my personal information. ....”
I really do not want your personal information but I do want to know, if you have a conflict of interest in your positions. I think your comments might suggest you do.

“You make the mistake in assuming your importance to or your impact on anyone on this forum”...... (and much else following) You, of course are entitled to your opinion. From your relatively vindictive responses, it sounds like you have a real problem with anyone who might live better than you might. You almost assume they have no right to what they have. (I certainly am not saying we do have a lot. I think the blog world has discovered we have a large home – I did not report it but LJW policy makes tracking us down easy and somebody in this space did. Of course, the assumption that people in larger homes have a large income is speculative at best. Did you ever think that many homeowners might have bought larger homes incrementally over a lifetime to reap the return on their investment for their retirement (no longer useful)?? I think your assumptions are pretty mean spirited, don’t you think? Could you perhaps focus on what I write rather than making the issue about me? I have reported my conflicts to include owning property. You have not. You sure do sound bitter. What have we done to you?

“You still don't get it. You don't have to own property to pay property taxes”. .... Partially true and acknowledged many times. That said, renters in this town are partially protected from the increase in time and amount (market driven) and generally pay less (much less) than a residential homeowner in a property of similar value. Remember we pay property taxes to support government services. How much income transfer should there be? In most communities of our size, home ownership is a larger percentage (majority) and the natural “voice” of the people limits increases. I speculate that may not be working here. Do you have an opinion on that – maybe a useful conservation?

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

Project much, George?

I don't make discussions about you, George. You make discussions about you, George, I've already explained to you how you do so several times in the past. You even told me to Google you in one of your posts when I indicated I just don't care who you are. I'm sure others took that advice and you add to it with all the personal details you disclose on this forum. I am not interested in your personal history but you keep insisting that somehow you are important enough to keep foisting it on me. At this point, I am surprised you have not told us your underwear preference & size in the interest of full disclosure or in the misguided belief that it will add to the discussion or to prevent a potential conflict of interest if someone else prefers boxers over briefs.

I've also told you before that I don't care if you have a large house. You made the decision to buy it and with that decision comes the rewards and the consequences of it. One of the consequences is that, due to its larger value, your property taxes are going to be higher than others who chose not to purchase a large house or who opted to rent.

And while you are correct that a large home does not necessarily mean that you have a large income, it does mean that you are part of the problem. Part of the housing problem is that people bought too much house for what they could actually afford. Again, no one made you purchase a large house on your income.

And I fail to understand why you are so surprised/or angry that when you purchase a house as an investment (with the expectation that the value of said investment would increase), that property taxes would increase.

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

Poop happens, George. Markets tank. The economy can turn. Investments are a risk, George. You are not guaranteed a return on them. You'd think that after all the time you've spent on this earth and the amount of change you have witnessed, you would have figured that out by now.

Whether you want to acknowledge or not, everyone pays taxes. Property taxes are not the only taxes collected to support government services. And depending on where you live, home ownership is not the only way one pays property taxes.

On top of that, as a home owner, you get tax breaks on your property taxes that renters (unless they meet a certain income level) do not. Renters do not get mortgage interest deductions and cannot deduct their real estate taxes off their federal tax returns. Because of that, your contribution may not be as great or that much more than others.

You assume that they get a break in their rent if the property owner's tax goes down (not in a college town - no need to compete which is why it is expensive to rent here).

In addition, we have a population here that contributes but is not around long enough to benefit. They pay the sales taxes which go into our coffers to fund our services. They help pay (through their rent) property taxes from which us permanent residents benefit.

Bitter? I'm not the one going on about how I don't get mine or how I'm being cheated by the masses (mob?). Or yadda-ing about income transfer.

BTW, George, home ownership is not the majority here. Owner-occupied homes 45.2% Renter-occupied homes 54.8% http://www.simplyhired.com/a/local-jobs/city/l-Lawrence,+KS

I'm done feeding your ego by responding back to you. I'm sure you can find others to do that for you.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Katara.

Yes owner occupied homes are in the minority here - that was my point. The market in rental properties here is overbuilt. Economics suggest it is better to have the property occupied than have it make an actual profit. Of course, profits are good.

I was not complaining about ROI on my house. Where did that come from?? I was actually talking about a whole class of homeowners all over Lawrence. These are people with value in their homes but not a high income – tax increases are losses in lifestyle and not a reduction in that large merit raise that some people hereabouts get.

I believe the time I suggested someone goggle me was when I was being challenged as not caring about the poor. The only thing I am aware about that one will notice on the net concerning me is my testimony - mostly in defense of those with lower incomes. No bragging - I did what I did because I believed in it. I don’ think that is self-aggrandizement but a legitimate response to a challenge. Maybe I am wrong?

You know, you are causing me to lose sleep. I have not been trying to brag so if I am coming over that way I need to do better. Exactly what bragging do you think I have done.

You are right; I have a preconceived notion about you. That is always dangerous. I have kind of expressed it. You seem to always come down on the side of more taxes and more public services and are very impatient with anybody that complains about the impact. Therefore, I conclude you are envious and someone who is as a result very deeply into redistribution (except from the very rich). You have never really denied it. Am I wrong?

Enough, I am not looking for a flame war about me personally and I really know nothing about you so yes, let us call this off. I am sure nobody wants to follow it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.