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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Library expansion wins early city support

$18M plan could go on Nov. ballot

Ryann Newkirk, 3, chooses from a selection of books she has pulled from the shelves as she, her mother, Nealy Newkirk, and 8-month-old brother Nicholas visit the children’s room of the Lawrence Public Library on Tuesday. Library officials have requested that the city put a library expansion project on the November ballot. Among the areas included within the expansion and renovation plans are the children’s room, the computer area and public meeting rooms.

Ryann Newkirk, 3, chooses from a selection of books she has pulled from the shelves as she, her mother, Nealy Newkirk, and 8-month-old brother Nicholas visit the children’s room of the Lawrence Public Library on Tuesday. Library officials have requested that the city put a library expansion project on the November ballot. Among the areas included within the expansion and renovation plans are the children’s room, the computer area and public meeting rooms.

March 24, 2010, 12:00 a.m. Updated March 24, 2010, 2:19 p.m.

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Library expansion plans receive good reviews

Proposed plans for the expansion of the Lawrence Public Library received positive reviews Tuesday. The proposal asks for funding for an $18 million expansion project. Enlarge video

A plan to ask voters in November to approve an $18 million expansion of the Lawrence Public Library won some early support at City Hall on Tuesday.

A majority of commissioners asked staff members to further research how to place a question on the November ballot that would raise property taxes to expand the library’s children’s room, meeting areas and computer labs, and add more public parking to the site at Seventh and Vermont streets.

But several commissioners said they are comfortable with the idea only if the tax increase is put directly in front of voters.

“I think it is critical that we have a referendum if we’re going to move forward because I don’t see commission support to just unilaterally raise the mill levy for this,” said Mayor Rob Chestnut.

Commissioners did not take any formal action to place the item on the Nov. 2 ballot, and some said they could still balk at the proposal depending on details of the expansion.

“I want to know more about the money and the time frame,” said Commissioner Mike Dever. “I think the proposal has merit, but I want to know if the whole thing pencils out.”

Library leaders have estimated that the city’s property tax rate would need to increase by about 1.5 mills to build the library expansion, plus by an additional half-mill to fund operations for a larger library. A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. A 2 mill increase on a $200,000 home would be$46 for a year.

Commissioners indicated they would like to decide on whether to place the issue on the ballot by early June.

“This will be a full-blown campaign,” said Aron Cromwell, who has worked with the library board to develop the expansion proposal. “We can’t approve this a month before it would go on the ballot.”

Cromwell said he heard large-scale support for an expanded library when he was campaigning for the City Commission last year.

“I’m very confident,” Cromwell said of chances for the proposal to win support at the ballot box.

Commissioner Lance Johnson said he has not yet heard enough from residents about the issue. He said he was uncertain that he could support putting the issue on the ballot, although he commended the library board’s forward thinking.

“I want to hear more about where this is on residents’ priority lists,” Johnson said. “We have potholes to fix and a lot of basic services to fix.”

If put on the ballot and approved, the increased property taxes would not be collected for the city’s 2011 budget, but rather would be collected for 2012 because of the timing of the election.

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Honorable City Commissioners,

I say instead of increasing property taxes let's use the existing 1995 sales tax money. This is ongoing. With the Aquatic Center being paid off this frees up some uses for all sides of town.

Such as 5 neighborhood items: 1. $18 million library expansion 2. $6 millon westside rec center 3. $1.5 million " Pedestrian - Cyclists Safe Pathways". Create pathways on two of the most dangerous streets for both pedestrians and cyclists aka Tennessee and Kentucky. The right of way is available aka existing sidewalks and there is a ton of bike and pedestrian traffic in these areas at all hours.

  • Widen sidewalks on the eastside of each street to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Light them up
  • Provide cross walk signs and markings at each intersection from 7th to 19th to increase awareness of drivers
  • Decrease speed by 5 mph from 7th to 19th
  • In the process the city is making it safer for women = rape prevention.
  • Name these pathways after Rachel. This investment is small compared to the safety that could be provided. KU students are worth the investment considering the number of jobs they generate and tax dollar revenue they generate. Students bring life and culture to Lawrence,Kansas.

  • New sidewalks throughout Oread would pay back the students for the millions upon millions they bring to Lawrence,Kansas that create many jobs and tax dollar revenue each year. Let's show them some respect.

  • New sidewalks east of Mass Street on east 13th street,east 10th street and east 9th street.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Ray LaHood: “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

When the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stood on a table at the National Bike Summit to thank the crowd and show his support for bicycling and walking, he was just getting started.

Ray LaHood announced his new Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations. It is simply the strongest statement of support for prioritizing bicycling and walking ever to come from a sitting secretary of transportation.

On his blog, he writes:

Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:

    * Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
    * Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
    * Go beyond minimum design standards.
    * Collect data on walking and biking trips.
    * Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
    * Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
    * Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

Now, this is a start, but it’s an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.

cowboy 4 years, 9 months ago

We have already put in an increased sales tax to fund roads and the fricking T. Currently , tax revenues are not meeting projections , big surprise there , building permits have decreased dramatically , the school district will probably get cut again , the small surpluses in the city coffers are moving downward even after annual and consecutive fee increases , yet the honorable commissioner seems to think this is a great time to to toss another 18 million into project expenses.

With other taxes projected to rise , tobacco , alcohol , personal State income , tuition , activity fees , taxes on utilities , this seems entirely irresponsible.

timetospeakup 4 years, 9 months ago

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sassypants 4 years, 9 months ago

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OutlawJHawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Wow, this is a lot of money. I have not seen the plans, but I hope a LARGE downtown convention center and numerous community-use meeting rooms are part of it. With the proliferation of the internet, expansion for stacks of books seems idiotic. Better yet, with that much money why not buy a couple of USD 497 elementary schools and have some smaller satellite libraries like other cities..and you gain gyms for more parks and rec activities...but that would require creative thinking.

RunCoyote 4 years, 9 months ago

The proposed library expansion would be a good step forward and is the best way to meet current needs without building an entirely new building. George Brenner

Write2Know 4 years, 9 months ago

"A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. A 2.5 mill increase on a $200,000 home would be $57.50 for a year."

If a mill is $1 for every $1,000 in value, wouldn't 1 mill on that $200,000 home be $200 a year and 2.5 mill thus be $500.00 a year? There is a big difference in $57 a year and $500 a year.

FarneyMac 4 years, 9 months ago

consumer1, you've got it backwards. A recession is the BEST time to invest in tools for community education...like libraries (and the computers and books therein).

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 9 months ago

Hello, my name is Merrill

Trousers are important when worn in libraries. Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately (rather than with cloth stretching across both as in skirts and dresses). The word trousers is used near universally in the UK, but other English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States often refer to such items of clothing as pants. Additional synonyms include slacks, strides, kegs or kex, breeches (sometimes pronounced /ˈbrɪtʃɨz/) or breeks. Historically, as for the West, trousers have been the standard lower-body clothing item for males since the 16th century; by the late 20th century, they had become prevalent for females as well. Trousers are worn at the hips or waist, and may be held up by their own fastenings, a belt, or suspenders (braces). Leggings are form-fitting trousers of a clingy material, often knitted cotton and lycra.

We should take the existing sales tax money and spend it on magical umbrellas and unicorn rides:

An umbrella or parasol (also called a brolly, rainshade, sunshade, gamp or bumbershoot) is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The term parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun; umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain. Often the difference is the material; some parasols are not waterproof. Parasols are often meant to be fixed to one point and often used with patio tables or other outdoor furniture. Umbrellas are almost exclusively hand-held portable devices; however, parasols can also be hand-held. Umbrellas can be held as fashion accessories.

A unicorn (from Latin unus 'one' and cornu 'horn') is a mythological creature. Though the modern popular image of the unicorn is sometimes that of a horse differing only in the horn on its forehead, the traditional unicorn also has a billy-goat beard, a lion's tail, and cloven hooves—these distinguish it from a horse. Marianna Mayer has observed (The Unicorn and the Lake), "The unicorn is the only fabulous beast that does not seem to have been conceived out of human fears. In even the earliest references he is fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, but always mysteriously beautiful. He could be captured only by unfair means, and his single horn was said to neutralize poison.

Face it! No way, Jose!

honestlil 4 years, 9 months ago

The library has tens of thousands of active users with library cards. That's a huge pro-library voter block. 'Small but outspoken group of supporters...' Hah! It's a huge group of supporters. If you think this blogger community represents the community at large, you're kidding yourself.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 9 months ago

Okay, let's say some day (which will probably never come...) we have some money sitting around we just don't know what to do with. The library wouldn't be my first, second, third, or even fourth or fifth choice. How about a decent homeless shelter for Lawrence? It is hard for me to believe a city this size is still without an in-patient mental health facility. There are so many vital areas we don't have the money to finance; so at this point that makes extra money for the library a luxury we cannot afford. (I'm willing to put it one notch above our public pools.)

50YearResident 4 years, 9 months ago

Ok, might as well get this to a vote and get it over with. It's just like walking up to a line of people at the unemployment office waiting for their check and asking for donations for the homeless center. It is not the right place or the right time.

d_prowess 4 years, 9 months ago

Just because you are a library card holder does not mean that you will support this. I think a lot of people agreed to the tax increase for the T because they saw some social need for such a system. The library on the other hand, I do not see functioning in such a way. Sure, there are computers that many homeless people use, but there are also other agencies in town that provide such a need as well. The library as is seems to function fairly well for those that use it so I don't think an expansion at this time is warranted. I will be voting no.

LadyJ 4 years, 9 months ago

A good idea for a study, what percentage of the residents use the library in say a month or a year. Just because the cards have been issued, doesn't mean they are used. I have one but haven't used it in 10 yrs. In fact I think we have used the KU library way more. Let's see some figures on that and possibly break it down to the children's section and the adult section to see where the need really is. These figures should be available to the public since it is a public library.

mkrylee 4 years, 9 months ago

Last I read about this several months ago this expansion included a "teen room" with computers and magazines and video games and music stereos. Of course the Commissioner Johnson is unsure of whether he can support putting this issue on the ballot...all of you that are such strong supporters of this are just now hearing the side of those of us that will vote to NOT expand the library at this time. There will be a more appropriate time to do so. I agree with the others that say we have more important things at the moment to be focusing on. Lets ensure our schools and jobs of our teachers. Lets build those librarys in the schools where the children can spend time out of each day.

There will just be a more appropriate time to fund this expansion. I will be voting against this proposal if it appears on the ballot.

d_prowess 4 years, 9 months ago

Oak, I agree with a number of the things you say. I hope I never have to read a book on a screen and think the media that the library provides is great. My issue stems from the need to increase taxes at this time to fund an expansion of the library. I understand if the folks running the library see a need for expansion, but I question whether is truly needed at this time. Are they failing to serve a lot of people given their current size? Are the services they feel are being fully utilized critical to residents of the community? I am all for paying to support the growth and enrichment of the community and it is why I live in a city, but that grown and enrichment can't be done .

openyourmind 4 years, 9 months ago

perhaps the city would have more money to do all the things Merrill suggest, and others regarding a homeless shelter, mental care facility, library expansion, keeping schools open, if only the city commission would quit giving away tax dollar revenue through tax credits and abatements to developments that open in lawrence. commissions will continue to approve developments that cost the taxpayers to build public infrastructure like roads, sewers, intersections lights, schools, and then the city has to continue to maintain it all the while the Walmarts and big boxes, and owners of apartment and housing complexes (but only those owners that are in the pockets of commissions or ex commissioners) do not pay property tax. This is millions and millions of dollars people. And now the city is overbuilt, vacancy is high, and the taxpayer is paying for it by renting out to ourselves our own parking garage and riverfront development. You talk about people paying their own way through these difficult times, how about business paying their own way...or is that just a sin in Kansas?

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 9 months ago

"...that would raise property taxes..."

All I needed to hear. Opposed.

booyalab 4 years, 9 months ago

If it wasn't so tragic, I might admire this self-fulfilling strategy of increasing the scope of an institution meant for poor people by making everyone poorer.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 9 months ago

If you ever raise kids you know there are times when they ask for things you cannot afford as if money grows on trees. When you try to explain things like this to a child they keep demanding more things.

The idea of thinking you can always just raise the tax rate and buy shiny new toys is a childish attitude transferred to government.

Lawrence is vulnerable to these types of things because a lot of voters were only recently children and they are still living off school loans or family members.

Our educational system spends a lot of time teaching about the Holocaust but barely a little time teaching about balancing check books and managing a budget.

That might be offensive to some people but you can prove me wrong by voting against a very irresponsible expenditure at a time when a large percentage of the population is living off their credit cards and government assistance.

Spending this much money on a computer room and more space for books for kids sounds real sweet but it is completely ridiculous at this time.

honestlil 4 years, 9 months ago

I use the library every week. Some casual observations: the library has a business center to help entrepreneurs and small business owners, the library has a computer lab with free computer literacy classes (which are wonderful), the library has educational classes and presentations for kids, teenagers and adults, the library has a book van that visits the senior living center where my mom lives, the library has large quantities of books, DVDs, language learning CDs and audiobooks for free checkout, and the library has helpful reference librarians whom I've never been able to stump.

We are blessed to have such a good library, given its poor level of $$ support. The Lawrence librarians are miracle workers. Imagine the good services that can be provided in our community with the proposed library expansion!

d_prowess 4 years, 9 months ago

Honestill, I appreciate your comments, but given all of the good work they are doing, what else needs to be done? Are you saying that they will be able to just expand what they already provide? If so, I wonder if there is a real need to or if those needing those services are being served.
I just don't like the idea that because someone does good work, they would do more of it or do it even better just by increasing in size. That is not necessarily true or even necessary.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 9 months ago

If you are planning to live in Lawrence for 4-5 years, then vote for a property tax increase, then leave, you have to do some soul searching.

This community is living beyond its means.

thoughtpolice 4 years, 9 months ago

Booyalab says: "If it wasn't so tragic, I might admire this self-fulfilling strategy of increasing the scope of an institution meant for poor people by making everyone poorer."

Since when is the library an institution meant only for poor people? I certainly don't see it that way. I believe that a positive aspect of the library is that it provides access to information for all levels of income, but it certainly isn't limited to poor people. The educational classes, meeting rooms, and reference librarians are available to anyone who needs to use them.

I concur fully with Oak's post and couldn't have said it better myself, especially the point that " As a citizen I expect to pay taxes to help with public items such as the infrastructure and the library. As these items are a very important part of my life I am happy to do so." I'm so tired of reading the "I'm taxed to death" blogs as if they are the only people on the planet who pay taxes. The library benefits a broad cross-section of the community. $46 a year to improve the facilities and services provided by a long-underfunded library is not too much to ask. If this is on the ballot in November, I will vote "yes" and work to convince as many like-minded friends and neighbors as I can to vote likewise.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps the city commission is hoping the tax increase will bring a NO vote and they can blow off the library instead of expanding on site and providing a valuable piece of taxpayer owned property the maintenance it so rightly deserves? A new Kansas landscape would be attractive.

We must also remember that USD 497 has handed we taxpayers a rather large bill to pay off that adds new operating cost to their budget.

The city also wants to spend these sales tax dollars on a climate controlled Field House which will add more NEW expense to the taxpayers budget. Why?

Considering also that increasing the property tax is NOT necessary when taxpayers have a sales tax in place that can afford taxpayers the library request. This works for me.

Let's spread/share the wealth that this sales tax generates instead of only on the westside. The west part of town has wayyyyy more hike/bike paths than any other part of town. Tax dollars from older neighborhoods helped finance newer west Lawrence.

These sales tax dollars are going to be spent no matter what. Why not share those sales tax dollars with other neighborhoods?

Again instead of increasing property taxes let's use the existing 1995 sales tax money. This is ongoing. With the Aquatic Center being paid off this frees up some uses for all sides of town.

Such as 5 neighborhood items:

  1. $18 million library expansion - a busy place all week long

  2. $6 millon westside rec center - this is fair

  3. $1.5 million " Pedestrian - Cyclists Safe Pathways" - Over due Create pathways on two of the most dangerous streets for both pedestrians and cyclists aka Tennessee and Kentucky. The right of way is available aka existing sidewalks and there is a ton of bike and pedestrian traffic in these areas at all hours.

  4. New sidewalks throughout Oread would pay back the students for the millions upon millions they bring to Lawrence,Kansas that create many jobs and tax dollar revenue each year. Let's show them some respect.

  5. New sidewalks east of Mass Street on east 13th street,east 11th street and east 9th street ... over due considering the number of pedestrians. The 13th street wheel chair traveler said she would love new sidewalks... a fair and sensitive request. From Haskell to Mass Street.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 9 months ago

Autie & write2know:

In Kansas for residential real estate: 1) Appraised value x 11.5% = Assessed value 2) Assessed value x mill rate = actual tax.

Jjane 4 years, 9 months ago

I cannot believe this conversation is even happening? I find the library spacious enough as it is...we are cutting budgets everywhere, but they want to even talk about project we don't need, that costs us money. Now they are talking of raising taxes for frivolity? I love this town lived here a long time and it never ceases to amaze me the unimportant things Lawrence focuses on. I'll pay extra taxes for the school, but not for library(and yes I do go there), why don't they move library to East Heights, if Boys and Girls club decide they don't want it, think they have enough room?

steveguy 4 years, 9 months ago

No No No . This is the city for you. Money money. What happens when the peoples money runs out?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Put the following to a November vote. After all every taxpayer is footing the bill:

I say instead of increasing property taxes let's use the existing 1995 sales tax money. This is ongoing. Yes or No

  1. $18 million library expansion

  2. $6 millon westside rec center

  3. $1.5 million " Pedestrian - Cyclists Safe Pathways".

  4. New sidewalks throughout Oread would pay back the students for the millions upon millions they bring to Lawrence,Kansas that create many jobs and tax dollar revenue each year. Let's show them some respect.

  5. New sidewalks east of Mass Street on east 13th street,east 10th street and east 9th street.

6.Westside Field House aka mini stadium: speculated cost $15-$25 million( USD 497 has spent $20 million towards PLAY) = $45-$50 million in the hole means it could decades before any economic growth is realized

  1. Cancel the the $88 million sewage treatment plant,which in and of itself increases the cost of community services

  2. Use sales tax money to help USD 497

  3. Stop Annexing more square miles of property. Taxpayers cannot afford more responsibility!

  4. Taxpayers should approve Farmland deal - haste makes waste

  5. Cancel because the city taxpayers cannot afford to lose the revenue on these entitlemets that seldom pay back :

  6. TIF - Tax Increment Financing
  7. Tax Rebates
  8. Tax Abatements
  9. TDD Tax incentive
  10. How do the above entitlements impact our local cookie jars? http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

"OUR tax abatement policy itself is fatally flawed. Tax abatements do not attract firms or retain business. The enforcement of tax abatements in Lawrence is shameful with the majority of abated firms failing to perform as promised and the City doing nothing. It makes Lawrence the laughing stock of site selection officers. Yet our employee, the Chamber of Commerce, continues to advocate for this failed program.

We should be scraping the policy and engaging in real economic development and smart growth."

When tax incentive entitlements expire companies seem to disappear leaving local taxpayers in the hole.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 9 months ago

Hello, my name is Merrill

Trousers are important when worn in libraries. Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately (rather than with cloth stretching across both as in skirts and dresses). The word trousers is used near universally in the UK, but other English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States often refer to such items of clothing as pants. Additional synonyms include slacks, strides, kegs or kex, breeches (sometimes pronounced /ˈbrɪtʃɨz/) or breeks. Historically, as for the West, trousers have been the standard lower-body clothing item for males since the 16th century; by the late 20th century, they had become prevalent for females as well. Trousers are worn at the hips or waist, and may be held up by their own fastenings, a belt, or suspenders (braces). Leggings are form-fitting trousers of a clingy material, often knitted cotton and lycra.

We should take the existing sales tax money and spend it on magical umbrellas and unicorn rides:

An umbrella or parasol (also called a brolly, rainshade, sunshade, gamp or bumbershoot) is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The term parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun; umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain. Often the difference is the material; some parasols are not waterproof. Parasols are often meant to be fixed to one point and often used with patio tables or other outdoor furniture. Umbrellas are almost exclusively hand-held portable devices; however, parasols can also be hand-held. Umbrellas can be held as fashion accessories.

A unicorn (from Latin unus 'one' and cornu 'horn') is a mythological creature. Though the modern popular image of the unicorn is sometimes that of a horse differing only in the horn on its forehead, the traditional unicorn also has a billy-goat beard, a lion's tail, and cloven hooves—these distinguish it from a horse. Marianna Mayer has observed (The Unicorn and the Lake), "The unicorn is the only fabulous beast that does not seem to have been conceived out of human fears. In even the earliest references he is fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, but always mysteriously beautiful. He could be captured only by unfair means, and his single horn was said to neutralize poison.

Face it! No way, Jose!

Put,thefolloweng to the vote! TAX per intarnet post!

booyalab 4 years, 9 months ago

"Since when is the library an institution meant only for poor people?"

Since a better quality product could be had by paying for it? Oh wait, that happened BEFORE libraries.

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