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Archive for Wednesday, May 19, 2010

City delays action on tax districts

May 19, 2010

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Concerns from Lawrence residents have caused city commissioners to slow down on plans for retailers to create special sales tax districts in the city.

Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday evening were scheduled to receive their first application for a Community Improvement District, a new type of taxing district that would allow retailers to charge up to an extra 2 percent sales tax that could be used to fund private improvements.

Instead, commissioners deferred accepting the application until after they have a study session at 4 p.m. on Monday to further discuss the new districts.

“I’ll take as much blame as can be had in this matter,” Mayor Mike Amyx said. “I think there was a better opportunity to discuss this item. I think it is important to take a step back and explain this better.”

Commissioners last week gave approval to a policy that would allow the new taxing districts in Lawrence. But since then, commissioners have received multiple phone calls and e-mails citing concerns with the district.

Commissioner Mike Dever said people have asked him whether businesses in the taxing district could be required to post signs showing that they have a higher sales tax rate. Dever asked staff members to prepare a report on the feasibility of that idea.

A group of Mission-based developers had filed an application to create a Community Improvement District near 23rd and Ousdahl that would charge an extra 1 percent sales tax to help repair the building now occupied by Hobby Lobby, and the former sites of a Kwik Shop and Subway.

Commissioners were asked Tuesday to have an open mind about the new taxing districts, as some members of the development community said the new districts can help businesses get needed bank financing.

“Telling your bank that you will increase your prices will not get you a loan,” said Matt Gough, a Lawrence real estate attorney. “But the tax that comes with a Community Improvement District is something you can see and touch and collateralize. The reason this is important is because it can be a deal starter.”

In other city news, commissioners deferred a request by Louise’s Downtown to add a sidewalk hospitality area to its bar. The request would have required the city to rewrite the rules for when bars can have sidewalk seating areas. Commissioners instead asked staff members to prepare a more detailed report on the issue.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 7 months ago

“Telling your bank that you will increase your prices will not get you a loan,” said Matt Gough, a Lawrence real estate attorney. “But the tax that comes with a Community Improvement District is something you can see and touch and collateralize. The reason this is important is because it can be a deal starter.”


What if the businesses fail, or otherwise default on the loans? Are the taxpayers on the hook for repaying these loans? If not, what extra security does the taxing district provide that just raising prices wouldn't achieve?

John Hamm 4 years, 7 months ago

Or did the commissioners start seeing the voting results last night and realize that American's really are "Mad as H978" over politician's business as usual policies?

jafs 4 years, 7 months ago

The positive element in this story is that due to many e-mails and phone calls, the city is reconsidering and may in fact add the requirement to notify customers.

This is a qualified victory for our democratic process!

Cindy Wallace 4 years, 7 months ago

Congratulations to all on this victory. I would also like to see a list of all properties (businesses), with the percentage of tax being imposed, posted in the Journal World.

seriouscat 4 years, 7 months ago

I hope it fails completely and I applaud everyone who took the time to communicate with the commissioners that enough is enough.

texburgh 4 years, 7 months ago

"Mayor Mike Amyx said. 'I think there was a better opportunity to discuss this item. I think it is important to take a step back and explain this better.'”

Read what he said - this is not going away; they just need to "explain this better." I guess then we will all understand why developers should be able to tax us.

Our city commission is OWNED by the developers. Whatever they want, they get. Don't forget the "new urbanism" approved for Bauer Farms - a pedestrian friendly mix of office, retail and residential and all the lovely artist's renderings you could ask for. Now it's a series of drive-throughs and a car wash. So much for "new urbanism" unless by new urbanism you mean the San Fernando Valley out in LA.

How should we know when a developer is lying? His/her lips are moving. How should we know a city commissioner is owned by a developer? He/she is approving a measure allowing a developer to impose a tax for the developer's benefit.

Thats_messed_up 4 years, 7 months ago

all this uproar from the same people who voted to jack up our sales tax last year by half percent for a empty bus line to run all day every day. Stupid people. 7.35%+empty bus.5%+state govt. who can't live within their means1%=8.85%+new tax districts=federal, state, local governments out of control.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 7 months ago

Those developers from Mission are smooth talkers.

Either the property is worth the money or NOT!

If financial institutions won't lend the money why would the taxpayers be any better off funding renovations?

How would taxpayers get OUR money back?

If this is such an ethical practice why won't developers advertise,put signs all over the establishment and why is it our commissioners do not seem to know enough about it?

Hey folks this seems like a glorified tax abatement or rebate that goes on forever. If the Mission developers cannot make a profit the old fashion way perhaps they ought to drop the project and STAY AWAY from Lawrence!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 7 months ago

"We pay billions of dollars in taxes that never get to the government." Much of the sales tax we pay at big box stores and shopping centers is diverted to the large companies that own the stores. It's just one of the many swindles these chains have learned to perpetrate against city and county governments. This is so effective that the Cabela family, which owns a chain of big-box sporting goods stores, receives 137% of its profits from taxpayer subsidies. If they couldn't work this scam, they wouldn't be in business at all."

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

This makes one wonder how many and what kinds of taxes are being paid when shopping at Legend's????

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