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Archive for Tuesday, May 25, 2010

City may require businesses with special tax to post signs

Businesses with a special tax may have to post signs in their stores.

May 25, 2010

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A special sales tax may require a special sign in Lawrence.

City commissioners at a study session Monday debated the idea of requiring businesses located in special taxing districts to post a sign on their doors notifying consumers that a higher than normal sales tax is charged.

“I’m concerned about being forthright,” said City Commissioner Mike Dever, who said he had heard from residents who believe the new taxing districts are not transparent enough. “Honesty is usually your best policy in anything.”

The new taxing districts, called Community Improvement Districts, may become more prevalent in Lawrence after state legislators in 2009 gave communities the option of establishing the districts. A CID allows for an additional 2 percent in sales tax to be charged on sales made within a district. The extra taxes can be used to pay for both public and private development costs and some private operating expenses.

Commissioners did not take any action on the sign idea. Instead, commissioners agreed to revisit the subject in about two weeks. But the idea did spark some concerns, in part, because staff members said they knew of no other community that required on-site notification of the special sales taxes.

“Since no other community has done it, it puts us back in that box of Lawrence being different or maybe unfriendly or hard to work with,” said Beth Johnson, vice president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Staff members said adding a list of the special taxing districts to the city’s website could be done.

Comments

LogicMan 4 years, 3 months ago

"may"? This is a no-brainer. Get 'er done.

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average 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm going to guess a postage-stamp sized thing, placed as discreetly as possible.

Which is fine. Really it is. Because I fully expect those places that don't (Home Depot, fer instance) to put up absolutely massive "no pseduotax bullcrap here" banners.

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Keith 4 years, 3 months ago

The businesses involved will sue, arguing the state law doesn't require it, so the local law can't. The city will offer token resistance, then plead poverty and cave in.

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grimpeur 4 years, 3 months ago

Gosh, Ms. Johnson. for someone who is alleged to be charged with improving the business atmosphere in Lawrence, you certainly tell a lot of lies meant to besmirch our image.

But, no. You trot out your "business unfriendly" claptrap, ignoring the miles of rope paid out to business interests in this town in the form of TIF, CID, abatements, and now deviations from development plans.

Ms. Johnson complains that honesty makes it hard to do business in Lawrence.

You and the rest of your lying "business unfriendly" BSers should really admit that you don't care about Lawrence. You just care about squeezing what you can out of Lawrence, even if it means making false statements, while avoiding putting too much back in.

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OonlyBonly 4 years, 3 months ago

Beth Johnson just doesn't seem to get it does she? It's pretty apparent the citizens of Lawrence expect to be informed when they are paying a special "tax" which goes to developers and businesses directly rather than local, city, state government.

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middlemgmt 4 years, 3 months ago

I would really appriciate a sign on the door that lets customers know.

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Chris Ogle 4 years, 3 months ago

It's my money, and I want a sign...NOW

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Adrienne Sanders 4 years, 3 months ago

Is there a list online anywhere of what businesses have this? I'd at least like to make a mental note to avoid these places.

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boltzmann 4 years, 3 months ago

There is a list of the various special districts at the KS Dept. of Revenue site. Here it lists sales tax rates by city and also lists the special districts. There seem to be three kinds: Transportation Tax Districts (TDD), which are districts where the extra tax goes to the city to provide infrastructure at or near the site (examples are the Legends and the area near 6th and Wak); Community Improvement Districts (CID), where the extra tax money is used directly by the businesses (these are relatively new, so there are not yet many of the them) and STAR bond districts (Sales Tax and Revenue Bonds), where the extra tax goes to pay off bonds that the city issued to finance some project in the area.

Unfortunately, the businesses are not listed, just the boundaries of the region.

The link is...

http://www.ksrevenue.org/pdf/forms/pub1700710.pdf

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Kontum1972 4 years, 3 months ago

i have a sign..can u see it... ;-P

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redmoonrising 4 years, 3 months ago

Why the need to hide the fact that they are charging this ta? If they have the nerve to charge it, they should be responsible and honest enough to let customers know that they do. Hiding behind a wall of gibberish is no excuse. Post the signs and let people know up front that they at least are dealing with an honest business, not someone trying to rip us off without our knowledge. I can't see how this would make us less business friendly than other communities. In fact, I think it makes us look better in that we are honest about what we are charging here. I may not like or agree with this tax but I would rather pay it knowingly and by choice than find out later some business was doing so without my knowledge. Any time there is something to hide, there are red flags going up.

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nut_case 4 years, 3 months ago

Regardless of any government requirement, I think it would be in the best interest of any business NOT charging additional tax to proudly display a sign stating that fact.

Likewise, if I am at a business and suddenly see an extra 2% tacked onto my purchase, I'd seriously consider asking for a refund and going somewhere else. I'd certainly think twice before going to that store again.

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Munsoned 4 years, 3 months ago

The folks conducting the study would no doubt be friends of key players in this.

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sherbert 4 years, 3 months ago

How could you NOT make them post it. Customers have a right to know if the tax is different than everywhere else in town! Businesses can have that option if they want, but disclosure should be a requirement.

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Munsoned 4 years, 3 months ago

Dever: “Honesty is usually your best policy in anything.”

No. Honesty is ALWAYS your best policy in anything.

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tnfats 4 years, 3 months ago

"Staff members said adding a list of the special taxing districts to the city’s website could be done."

Ha. Don't strain yourself too much there.

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Randall Uhrich 4 years, 3 months ago

What crap! I refuse to patronize any business or district that has an arbitrary tax added to the cost of services or merchandise, sign or no sign. If businesses want to improve their district, let them operate more efficiently and pay for it themselves, not sneak the cost over to the consumer with a special tax. I vote against these taxes by buying elsewhere.

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ConcernedAboutSchools 4 years, 3 months ago

How can this be called a tax? It's not a tax, it's a sneaky way to increase profits. Be honest with your customers and increase your prices to cover your business costs like everyone else.

There are plenty of other places in other cities that have signs posted stating that they charge an extra economic development tax. I was just in a Panera that had a large sign posted directly next to the cash register that stated that they charge an extra tax. There should not be an extra tax, but if there is, the consumer has every right to know. Any business owner who thinks it is unreasonable to have to be upfront about what they charge is not the type of business owner I want to support.

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thefactsare 4 years, 3 months ago

ConcernedAboutSchools - What Panera were you in that had the sign?

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Phil Minkin 4 years, 3 months ago

I still don't understand why the merchants in a district don't just charge 2% more for their goods and services to pay for what they want rather that call it a tax, have the city do the bookkeeping and then have it returned to them.

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tomatogrower 4 years, 3 months ago

Good point!!!! This just seems stupid. They only thing I can think of is they can get you into the store, because they seem to be charging less.

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tolawdjk 4 years, 3 months ago

In the Park Meadows Shopping Center/Mall area of the Denver burbs, there is an Ultimate Electronics (Best Buy like store) that specifically advertises that they have the lowest tax rate in the area because as part of their negotiations to occupy the space they specfically required that their customers would -not- have to pay the local extra development tax.

They had a big banner across the top of the store announcing it. Given that purchases there were going to be on the higher end...TVs, appliances, sound systems...I think it was an -insanely- smart move, especially as they compete with a Best Buy in the same shopping location.

Now, I don't know if that means that they just don't pay it, or they have assumed the cost onto themselves, but I've bought several things there because of it.

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Randall Barnes 4 years, 3 months ago

i would rather shop in a run down building and a pot hole filled parking lot than pay an extra 2%.i do know one thing if they won't tell me before i shop that they charge the tax i will cancell my order even if it is just a couple of tacos at taco bell.

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Keith 4 years, 3 months ago

"i will cancell my order even if it is just a couple of tacos at taco bell."

This may be the best strategy yet, load up your cart and abandon it at the checkout once you find out the total tax bite.

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Cindy Yulich 4 years, 3 months ago

If anyone has shopped at Nebraska Furniture Mart, the Legends (or any of the surrounding Village West area), Oak Park Mall, Leawood shops at 119th, the centers in Olathe, you've paid such a tax. These taxes are being used in Basehor, Hays, Manhattan, Pittsburg, Roeland Park, Fort Scott and Wichita as well. To date, no signage has been required or utilized. That said, add the sign but include ALL pertinent information (including jobs and property tax generated from the project). In the end, as many have stated, the marketplace will dictate.

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twaldaisy 4 years, 3 months ago

Casey's in Ottawa is charging the extra tax. I was quite surprised when I looked at my receipt. Won't be going back there. Even if signs were required it will all be moot anyway as everyone will start charging the "tax". So much for Walmart's roll back prices!!

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Beth Bird 4 years, 3 months ago

Which Casey's? All of them or the new one? I would like to avoid them as well!

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mikeisthename 4 years, 3 months ago

I looked at the Sales and Use Tax Booklet (http://www.ksrevenue.org/pdf/forms/pub1700710.pdf) and found various places I go to with increased taxes effective July 1st. It was shocking! Also to have that 2 percent added on in this city is adding insult to injury.
Of course people have the choice of going or not going there. There is a third option of purchasing stuff off the internet and paying no sales tax. However at tax time when filling out the KS Tax forms, residents still have to pay a crazya$$ tax that I believe keeps businesses in KS from going out of business. Don't know what the tax is called but anyone who does buy stuff over the net have to pay this. So it seems the cities and state of KS get every citizen to pay a tax to help businesses and infrastructure no matter what they call it or dress it up.

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tomatogrower 4 years, 3 months ago

If you really want to attract customers to Lawrence, why not refuse to set up these tax districts and advertise that. Maybe people who hate this stupid idea will flood into Lawrence.

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BigPrune 4 years, 3 months ago

......in the meantime, old downtown buildings get a free retrofitted fire sprinkler system paid for by the citizens of Lawrence. No sales tax increase necessary... honesty is the best policy. Why not make downtown Lawrence businesses foot the bill for all the spending the City of Lawrence does for downtown Lawrence advertising, $90,000 in flowers, banners, upgrades to the old infrastructure water/sewer lines, Christmas lights, etc., through a special sales tax? Fair is fair after all, isn't it?

Please anyone, correct me if I am wrong...

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vuduchyld 4 years, 3 months ago

Money going out of my pocket and into a developer's pocket?

Reverse Robin Hood at its finest.

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Keith 4 years, 3 months ago

" vuduchyld (anonymous) says…

Money going out of my pocket and into a developer's pocket?

Reverse Robin Hood at its finest."

Trickle down economics didn't work, so now they're going to try trickle up economics. This is the developers version of the worlds oldest computer crime, siphoning off pennies from rounding errors into the account of the perp.

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markbr52 4 years, 3 months ago

Do what I will and it may change. Watch your receipts closely. When you see the tax that is talked about on the receipt, return the item and STATE WHY to the merchant.

It is one thing to tax for the public use(support the government services). It is totally WRONG to tax and give to the PRIVATE sector. If I want to give my money to a private sector individual or business that is for me to do not for the government.

Once again the government thinks that they know how to spend MY money better than I do.

GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF ANY AREA THAT PRIVATE BUSINESS CAN DO. ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE CURRENTLY DOING IT!

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Eride 4 years, 3 months ago

Something to keep in mind for everyone commenting on how they won't shop at a store charging the extra tax. It isn't the store deciding to charge the tax and the store isn't getting any of the money. It is the developer who built the building the store is leasing who gets the money and it is going straight into the developer's pocket to never be seen again...

This is wealth redistribution but instead of Obama's socialist ideals it does the reverse.

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jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Maybe, but if enough people won't patronize the businesses there, perhaps the developers will have a hard time leasing the spaces and reconsider using this "tax".

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Posting a sign = customer friendly

If it's not such a distasteful approach why not put up a sign?

Why not be honest with the customers instead of running a shady operation?

This whole deal stinks. Whoever heard of charging customers a "toll" to buy the goods?

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puddleglum 4 years, 3 months ago

like someone else said: "What crap! I refuse to patronize any business or district that has an arbitrary tax added to the cost of services or merchandise, sign or no sign. If businesses want to improve their district, let them operate more efficiently and pay for it themselves, not sneak the cost over to the consumer with a special tax. I vote against these taxes by buying elsewhere."

I will not spend one dime at these places, and I will always tell everybody i know how these businesses are charging you an extra 3% of your purchase...and of that -I'm sure 1/2 goes to big Doug. so that means that everytime you buy anything in Huttons farms, 1.5% is going to compton's pockets.

how is this legal? how come I can't charge an extra 3% on my business?

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Munsoned 4 years, 3 months ago

Oh, puddleglum. Doug is not complete without another zebra or buffalo in his menagerie. Surely those are purchased from local retailers, right?

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Beth Bird 4 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone have a list of these businesses?

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

"Commissioners did not take any action on the sign idea. Instead, commissioners agreed to revisit the subject in about two weeks. But the idea did spark some concerns, in part, because staff members said they knew of no other community that required on-site notification of the special sales taxes.

“Since no other community has done it, it puts us back in that box of Lawrence being different or maybe unfriendly or hard to work with,” said Beth Johnson, vice president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "

The position of city hall and the chamber should raise a ton of local eye brows!

And this argument of " being unfriendly to business" is old old old old old.

What is unfriendly to business?

This: http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/sep/why_do_you_think_lawrence_growth_lagging/

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

And this is most certainly unfriendly to business :

July 24, 2009

To the editor:

The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/jul/24/retail-space/?letters_to_editor

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than population growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an out migration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings.

  2. Lawrence is overbuilt in retail: Stores were built faster than retail spending growth supporting these stores. This excessive growth has hurt the public and private investment in downtown redevelopment (e.g.: the empty $8 million parking garage, the empty Hobbs-Taylor space, etc.) and has caused deterioration and blight in existing shopping centers (e.g.: Tanger Mall, Food-for-Less, etc.)

  3. Douglas County is overbuilt in manufacturing and warehousing; employment in these sectors is declining, not growing. Yet, the Chamber calls for more and more space in the false belief that more supply creates more demand.

  4. Office space in Douglas County is relatively well balanced, but the market for office space is severely crippled by the excessive supply of unused retail space which is competing for office tenants.

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thefactsare 4 years, 3 months ago

merrill, maybe you should ask Professor McClure what he thinks of the signs.

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Keith 4 years, 3 months ago

"so that means that everytime you buy anything in Huttons farms, 1.5% is going to compton's pockets."

A minor correction, Hutton Farms is the residential area NW of Kasold and Peterson Rd. Bauer Farm is the area between Folks and Wakarusa and is the area concerned.

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CLARKKENT 4 years, 3 months ago

I HOPE THEY AT LEAST LET US KNOW, SO I DO NOT HAVE TO SHOP THERE, EVER.

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Janet Lowther 4 years, 3 months ago

I would require a notice at least as big, and displayed as prominently as is required for a "No Guns" sign.

However, establishments who built the extra tax into their posted prices would be exempt.

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