Archive for Saturday, July 9, 2011

City leaders taking heat from public for proposed tax increases

July 9, 2011


Yes, the email system for Lawrence city commissioners is working these days.

City commissioners said Friday afternoon that they’ve gotten “lots” of negative feedback from city residents about a proposed 2012 city budget that would include a 2.8 mill property tax hike, the largest to come out of City Hall in more than a decade.

“We’re going to have to decide what we have the stomach for here,” Mayor Aron Cromwell said at Friday’s budget study session.

City Manager David Corliss’ recommended budget — released last week — calls for an increase of 2.8 mills in the property tax levy. The increases would maintain all existing city positions and services, plus fund:

  • An $18 million expansion of the Lawrence Public Library, previously approved by voters.
  • $535,000 for wage and compensation increases for city employees. The details of any increases haven’t been determined yet because the city is still in negotiations with police and fire unions.
  • $400,000 for five additional positions in the city’s police department.

Commissioners agreed that a 1.7 mill increase for the 2012 budget is largely a given. Voters were told to expect such a mill levy increase when they went to the polls and approved the library expansion in November. But a majority of commissioners said they weren’t yet willing to accept another 1.1 mill increase on top of that.

“I’ve heard quite a bit from the public,” said City Commissioner Mike Amyx, a downtown barbershop owner. “I have heard from quite a few people who have said they haven’t gotten any raises lately.”

Adding police

But signs of division also showed up at Friday’s study session. City Commissioner Hugh Carter pushed the city to look at providing more police officers than what Corliss has recommended. Carter said he wanted to find a way to fund 10 additional police officer positions. Corliss has estimated that would take the total mill levy increase to 3.3 mills. Carter stopped short of saying he would support that large of an increase — he said he wanted to look for other cuts — but he argued a larger police force was going to be a necessity if the city is unable to persuade the state to keep the local SRS office open.

On the other end of the spectrum, City Commissioner Bob Schumm said he might be willing to consider adding fewer police officer positions than recommended by Corliss. He said that adding three officers this year and committing to add two additional officers each year for the next several years might be a good multi-year approach to deal with what police leaders say is a staff shortage.

“We didn’t get short in one year,” Schumm said.

Possible cuts

A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. A 2.8 mill increase would raise the property taxes of a $200,000 home by $64.40 for the year. Any property tax increases would be in addition to proposed sewer, water and trash rate increases. Corliss’ budget recommends a 2 percent increase for water rates, 2 percent increase for sewer rates and a 2.7 percent increase for residential trash rates.

Several commissioners indicated Friday that they would be looking for several small cuts to try to reduce the budget by $1 million to $1.5 million. Such cuts largely would eliminate the need for a mill levy increase, other than for the library expansion.

Items that came up in that vein included:

  • Questions about whether the city could defer purchasing two new pieces of fire-fighting equipment for another year. Delaying the purchases would save the city about $500,000 in 2012.
  • Comments on whether 2012 is the right year to begin purchasing right-of-way and other property for a new wastewater treatment plant south of the Wakarusa River. The city has set aside $1.6 million for that phase of the project, which would be funded through higher sewer rates.
  • Inquiries about the overall size of the city’s parks and recreation budget, which totals a little more than $9 million under the 2012 proposed budget.
  • A request for more information about why the city has budgeted large increases in commodities for many departments, even for many departments that aren’t highly dependent on fuel.

But commissioners also were told that it will be difficult to find cuts to the budget that don’t produce noticeable declines in service. Corliss said he’s recommending the mill levy increase, in part, because he hasn’t found a way to hold city services steady without one. Corliss is not recommending eliminating any city positions in 2012, but he noted the city has cut 26 positions since 2008. The city also has kept its mill levy below 27 mills since 2004. The proposed budget would take it to 29.49 mills. Carter — who was elected in April — said commissioners need to keep that in mind as well.

“Holding steady on the mill levy has been commendable,” Carter said. “But costs are going up, revenues are flat, and we have cut all the positions we think we can. It kind of is what it is.”

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening City Commission meeting will discuss the budget again and are scheduled to decide on the maximum amount they would increase the mill levy in 2012. Commissioners must finalize the budget by mid-August.


Gandalf 6 years, 9 months ago

“I have heard from quite a few people who have said they haven’t gotten any raises lately.”

Raises hell, how about a job? Especially one above minimum wage and benefits.

pizzapete 6 years, 9 months ago

Yea, that's what I was going to point out, don't forget all the people that have lost jobs and income all together.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

We don't NEED:

  1. a $100 million dollar sewage treatment plant - Taxpayers NEVER approved this

  2. A $400 million improvement to 31st street - Taxpayers never approved this - commuters can get along as they have been.

  3. A Trafficway that will likely call for more local dollars - Taxpayers have never approved additional dollars

  4. NO NEED to annex more property as this adds more and more to our tax bills.

  5. NO NEED to keep giving local developers a free ride on property taxes or any kind of taxes.

  6. WE could cut back on what taxpayers GIVE to the Chamber of Commerce by about $200,000. In fact I am of the opinion that there is enough support to cut this from the budget all together. The chamber is pretty much about spending tax dollars. Either by outright suggestions for spending or tax dollar give aways. The chamber is run by the real estate industry.

  7. WE don't need a $15 million dollar rec in west Lawrence or in any part of Lawrence. West Lawrence has a ton of new wide sidewalks plus more hike and bike trails than any other part of town.

If we want to create jobs that's easy. Use taxpayer approved dollars to fix sidewalks and streets in the older neighborhoods. This is infrastructure rehab that could add $$$$ value.

STOP spending more and more and more tax dollars on PLAY aka a never ending high dollar sports project which is a Chamber of Commerce creation. USD 497 has hit taxpayers with $20 million or more as we speak that which taxpayers did not approve. Now the same voices are screaming for a $15 million rec center on the west side of town which will bring the total spending on PLAY thus far to $35 million.

If the city is concerned about the health of taxpayers use some that park sales tax money to build more exercise trails on the eastside to connect to westside trails. This way the dollars impact thousands of taxpayers throughout Lawrence. These exercise hike/bike paths are busy wherever they are located = a best bang for the tax buck.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago

  1. We don't need an $18 Million library. Expand the kid section, give it a faceliftn, and definitely put in the parking garage, but that would be it. And, I guarantee you we will be receiving a tax increase to fund the operations of our expanded library. Check out what Topeka spends a year on their $15 Million library. Of course people love the libarary though, its free (except for those who own property).
  2. We don't need to spend $1.25 million on social projects, including homeowner associations.
  3. We don't need a City owned sanitation department.
  4. We don't need as many City employees, especially given our lack of growth as a Community (we are losing citizens, jobs, and tax base).

The real problem is our inability to grow our tax base. Our City/County leaders should be thankful that the University of Kansas is located in Lawrence as it masks all of their errors with our failed growth policies since 2000. We better get off of the path as many parts of this City is in rapid decay. The arrogance of City leaders, and frankly many of our citizens, thinking that Companies should just want to locate here because its Lawrence is tragic. Its a competitive world and incentives are required to compete. A dedicated sales or property tax to fund economic development incentives similar to Topeka and JoCo, would be a better choice than funding other leisure projects.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 9 months ago

Casting the first vote for no_thanks. would be glad to join you on the city commission or school board.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Is annexation expanding our tax base or our tax bills?

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - annexation is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Annexation is the result of over five decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town.

We've subsidized annexation at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of developers and the local real estate industry.

How we subsidize annexation:

  • building new and wider roads
  • building schools on the fringe
  • extending sewer and water lines to new developments
  • extending emergency services to the fringe *direct pay-outs to developers aka tax dollar free rides

irvan moore 6 years, 9 months ago

what we don't need is the zillion pound elephant in the room, a freaking parking garage "for the library". the commissioners piggybacked their own pet project onto the library, take the garage off the project and we don't raise taxes, the police department and fire department can have what they need and the sun will shine again in Lawrence Kansas.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Voters voted on the project which included a garage.

If people didn't want the project, they should have voted against it (I did).

Godot 6 years, 9 months ago

A tiny minority of residents voted in that election. The resulting approval of the luxurious destination library is a travesty. Repeal. Repeal. Repeal.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

That is true.

I would like to see 100% turnout in all elections.

But, it's not my fault that a lot of people didn't vote - it's theirs.

If people want to have input into decisions like this one, they have to vote. If they choose not to, then they are voluntarily giving up the ability to affect the outcome of elections.

Godot 6 years, 9 months ago

I propose a new rule for ballot initiatives that authorize new spending based on property tax. The rule would require a minimum voter turnout of, say, 30%, or the initiative fails. Call it the "voter quorum rule."

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

Ah, but it is your fault to keep agreeing to the 'gerrymandering' of election dates.

Instead of having singular elections periodically -- say every two years -- officials keep scheduling some elections for periods when most people don't pay attention.

Elections -- real elections -- are held every 2 years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in months beginning with an "N". That's when all-but the lazy show up to vote for the many, many offices and proposals on the ballot.

Scheduling elections for other dates just ensures that a small number of keenly self-interested persons bother while the typical person isn't even aware anything is going on. And often for a single isolated ballot proposal.

Guess what? We had an "election" last week and decided to repeal the First Amendment while you weren't watching. Ooopsies!

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Being informed is an individual responsibility - I am aware of when elections are held without taking any special action, simply reading the paper.

Anybody who's interested in participating can do so quite easily.

William McCauley 6 years, 9 months ago

Yea well Mr. Corliss is one of those over paid & "incapable of performing". And you expect him to make changes based on your emails...... LOL

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Continuing down a road that is not paying back the taxpayers is not smart business therefore city leaders should pay heed to this bit of information.

By Kim McClure

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

Flap Doodle 6 years, 9 months ago

merrill's copy/pasted that letter dozens of times. You should be used to seeing it by now.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago

I would love to see the assumptions used to determine the absorption rate. If we actually focused on growing our economy, the absorption rate would natually be faster. A quick market analysis tells you that investments that pay off focus on catering to the University students, and unique restaurants, thus, if we don't change our policies, we should move towards making Mass an entertainment district.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 9 months ago

Unlike many, I have actually read her husband's outdated published work and find it entirely unpersuasive. I'd really like to see him attempt to rework his research in an updated, quantitative and persuasively scientific fashion... but I suspect that is beyond the poor professor's abilities.

ku_tailg8 6 years, 9 months ago

I didn't care for Bush or what Obama is currently doing. I saw an article that said the presidential staff (making between $50k to 100K+) went from 140 or so for Bush to close to 450 for Obama Government is taking a way to big piece of the pie in our economy.

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

Off-hand, I'd guess the bogus information you present is the staff for the Presidential transition process (Obama did employ 140 staffers from Nov. 2008 until Jan. 2009). Who knows (or cares) how many Bush employed. Total cost? 0.0000000000000000001% of the budget. Congrats on your identification of a key problem. Let's get that solved before Nov. 2016!

"Government is taking a way to big piece of the pie in our economy."

Well, the (federal) government takes less piece of the pie (a share of GDP) than at any time since Harry Truman was President. You may well believe this is "way too big" but it is shockingly little, far less than what we've built our budgeting on, and is leading to a serious debt problem since the people don't want a smaller gov't - no benefit cuts to Medicare, no benefit cuts to Social Security, a massive global military empire, and several dozen National Parks. A decade of GOP rule has convinced foolish people that gov't is cheap and you can have every spending you want while paying less and less in taxes to get it.

In short, you can have Social Security or you can have taxes at levels your grandfather would have thought a bargain -- but you can't have both!

werekoala 6 years, 9 months ago

I wonder how many of those same people complaining about a $5/mo tax increase for basic municipal services (assuming they live in a nicer house than I do!) will spend an extra sixty bucks on gas, groceries, or entertainment in 2012 without thinking twice...

But because it'sgasp TAXES... well then by god, we MUST hold the line, no matter how cruddy our streets or overextended our police department. Millions for entertainment, but not one cent for basic municipal services!

Never mind that the city hasn't changed the mill levy throughout the economic downturn, and it only makes up 1/4 of the total mill levy (county is another quarter and school district is half!) A certain segment of our population really believes that the only legitimate tax rate is 0%, and attempting to appease them is a waste of time.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago

I for one am damn tired of the its just giving up a cup of coffee. The problem with continually increasing taxes is that Commissioners view it as the only option rather than addressing the cost curve. One thing that is for certain is that the Federal Government is pushing more costs onto State Governments. State Governments are broke, so, they are going to push more costs onto local government. Local Governments are broke, so we should expect more tax increases down the road. This is why, in my opinion, it is imperative that City and County Government focus on efficiency (fewer, but more productive employees), shed non-essential assets (services that could be provided more efficiently by the private sector), and start reducing funding of certain social services and absolutely no funding for homeowner associations (its a small amount, but frankly, this is about a City's fiduciary responsibility for all citizen in how tax dollars are allocated). And, make it easier for Companies to expand here so that we might be able to grow our economy. It doesn't take a math major to quickly realize that the CID incentive is a cheap means for increasing our property tax base (as the City gives up nothing). Frankly, I would offer the CID to all properties built prior to 2000, as it would increase property values, improve the overall appearance of our City, and most likely, attract other businesses.
We are going to be asked to help fund Bert Nash, LMH, and Health Care Access, all of whom are going to see demand soar as SRS and Medicaid funding is pushed to local governments. There will have to be some tough decisions, but it is better to start taking action today in preparation of being cut off from Federal and State funds.

Elaine Elliott 6 years, 9 months ago

I completely agree. Sixty-five extra dollars a year when you own a $200,000 house doesn't seem like much. I'm proud of the city for making such a small raise and improving social services. I love the library, the rec centers, and the parks and I will gladly continue to pay for them.

William McCauley 6 years, 9 months ago

Yea but it's a hell of a lot of money to an 88 year old lady who lives on social sec. PMT's each month of a 1000 bucks..... I was just over to see her last night and she was paying her bills for the month..... Let's just say there is not much left over for food or any kind of fun or extras like dinner out on the town one night. No she don't live in any 200K house, live east Lawrence, same block for 88 years now, spent her life building this city, the same as her dad and granddad did.... I think they they've paid their fair dues in a life time and they don't have the extra money in pocket for Mr. Corliss to dip his little greedy hand into it......

Hell no their out there learning to live with less and do with out and have been for sometime, about time the city & county do the same!

I paid her property tax bill last year because she didn't have enough, but not this year, I don't have it to spend on her this year, in this unfriendly to business outhouse.

Sharon Aikins 6 years, 9 months ago

Did everyone who voted for the $18 million library project think there would be no consequences or that the money would magically fall out of the sky? That one still has me scratching my head. In these times, wouldn't it have been wiser to remodel or add some necessities rather than build another white elephant downtown where it is inconvenient at least. I am an avid reader but haven't been in the Lawrence Public Library for years. I hope at least they will consider some of their disabled patrons when they redesign/rebuild.

We deserve the best library we can afford but can we really afford this one at this time? It seems there are other areas in greater need in Lawrence. Do we need it more than police officers? And don't forget the additional charges for services, water, trash, etc. Where does it stop when a lot of us are living on less?

Hudson Luce 6 years, 9 months ago

"We deserve the best library we can afford." That's the present library. The City can hold off building a new one until the economy recovers. The same goes for the expensive new sports facilities, the rec centers, and so on. We need to stick to funding essentials, not luxuries.

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

Au contraire - it's our money. It's our economy that employs you (assuming you are even employed), provides for you, and establishes a system of law and order to protect you. "Our" money literally(!) says: 'e pluribus unum' - not 'every man for himself'. "Your" money is some worthless IOU that even the bums won't accept.

If you want to live in a place with no rules, no government, Somalia is one of a handful of exclusive Libertarian alternatives available and is waiting for you right now. There, you can live the Wing-Nutz dream!! You'll be a free man, dependent only on your own skills and imagination.

I give you about 24 hours before you're squealing for government like Eric Cartman in the Ethiopian desert. ("I want my Big Government and I want it now!!!!")

SnakeFist 6 years, 9 months ago

Excellent post!

I'm so tired of petulant conservatives who constantly complain about the society that makes their success possible. They wouldn't survive long in their state-of-nature utopia with maximum freedom and minimal security or other services.

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

A petulant conservative's natural habitat -- in his PJ's, in his mother's basement, thinking himself Master of the World.

Jack Ozegovic 6 years, 9 months ago

I would like to remind PaladKik that pothole repair and similar items are not fixed by lightening bolts from heaven. Taxes bring services and sometimes those services increase in cost that we must bear for the good of the whole. Obviously, funds from Topeka are going to be quite anemic for some time to come.

newmedia 6 years, 9 months ago

Give until it hurts, then give some more. Are you a maker or a taker?

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

Let's see. Are the takers the unregulated ones who had to be bailed out on Wall Street or the ones who loot companies of their wealth, fire the employees, and then dump the mess on the bankruptcy courts? It's so hard to keep up with wingnut euphemisms for bull's waste products, fraud, rigging elections, and theft.

All in all, there are those who send checks to the IRS (working Joes, Left Coast entrepreneurs, salt of the earth types) and there are those who get checks from the IRS (bankers, corporate tycoons, jet purchasers, oil companies, yacht enthusiasts, M&A artists, and all those GOP lobbysists accepting cash from Indian tribes, Chinese companies, and Russian mobsters).

Yep, makers and takers. You got that part right, at least. You just didn't realize that you were part of the Loser Class!

John Hamm 6 years, 9 months ago

About time city "leaders" took some heat for something! Time to dump Corliss and get someone who can "manage" a City.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 9 months ago

I agree completely. I have quit voting in city elections, since core-less arrived it is a waste of time. The "commissioners" we elect have no backbone, no clue, no guts and no qualifications to manage a turtle race. The city is run by Curly, Larry, Moe and dancing to the tune of P.T. Barnum. A real disgusting circus.

donethatalready 6 years, 9 months ago

what I don't understand is the library was put to a vote city wide to the all the Lawrence folks when the only people paying for the library is property owners. Had the vote been only limited to the property owners it would not have passed. How is that fair to property owners?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

First, all residents pay into the property tax system - landlords pass that onto their tenants.

Second, that's just not how our system works - we all vote on a variety of things that will affect others as well as ourselves.

If there's a vote regarding sales tax (like the increase for road maintenance, etc. that passed), should those who pay more in sales taxes have more of a vote?

ToriFreak13 6 years, 9 months ago

The renter has a choice to move to an apartment that fits their budget. They also come and go staying at most 4 years. A homeowner trying to fulfill a satisfying life here in Lawrence will be stuck paying these taxes for as long as they own the house. It is far from fair to allow first time voters with no financial responsibility towards the infrastructure in this town...the right to vote on said issues. How many of you defending this tax with the "oh it's only $56 you can spend less on gas", or "renters absorb the expense" are actually homeowners?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Homeowners can buy smaller houses if they want to pay lower taxes, or houses in more modest neighborhoods. Or, if they think it's such a great deal, they can sell their house and rent instead.

Even if students are only here for 4 years, that doesn't mean they have "no financial responsibility" - they pay into the property tax system, they pay sales taxes, utility bills, etc. The students are also helpful in supporting a wide variety of businesses, many of whom would likely go out of business without them.

The fact that college towns have a rather large transient population in the form of college students has positive and negative aspects - of course, nobody's forcing anybody to live in a college town, are they?

We own our home, fwiw.

This idea that only those with a certain financial outlay should be allowed to vote is patently undemocratic. Who gets to decide where that line is? What if I think you don't pay enough in taxes to vote? Etc.

Having said all of that, I do understand that Lawrence is a difficult place to live and work, if you want to own a home, given the high costs of living relative to wages here. But, I think that problem is endemic to college towns across the country. If one feels that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, then living in a college town isn't a good choice for them.

ToriFreak13 6 years, 9 months ago

The voting issue has nothing to do with who pays more in taxes in Lawrence. It is a simple premise that homeowners should be the only ones voting for raises in their taxes that go to resources in their communities. The same way we create districts and only allow people to vote in those districts. The same way students have to prove residency to be afforded in-state tuition. They would have to prove the same to vote on permanent resident issues. Your case for students is far fetched. You claim they pay property tax, what percentage? I am pretty sure I see many with out-of-state tags. What percentage of students buy goods in Lawrence? Most travel to KC, the Legends etc, or buy online....NOT paying taxes at all. Not to mention that a large percentage is making those payments with money earned by their parents, or monies gained through financial aid. This is not their hard earned money that they are voting with. This is why Lawrence is broke! Your solution to buy a smaller house is laughable as well. I am supposed to jump in my time machine and go back and buy a smaller house because I was unable to predict an apocalypse of taxes?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Tenants pay property taxes - landlords pass the cost on to them, in the form of rent. I suppose those who live in dorms don't pay property tax, but that's an issue to take up with KU. If it paid taxes, it would pass on that cost to students.

The argument seems to be that they don't pay "enough", either because they share housing or because they don't live here long "enough".

Who defines "enough"?

Students patronize local restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc. in large numbers. Without them, we would have fewer choices.

You seem to be very much like George - did you not know that living in a college town has positive and negative qualities when you moved here?

We've always bought smaller homes - they're less expensive to buy, heat/cool, easier to clean, etc. And, you pay lower property taxes on them as well.

Also, this notion that students are voting in large numbers is patently odd - most students don't even know when elections are held.

The fact is that college towns are interesting in a variety of ways that non-college towns aren't, for many people. If the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, then it's a good deal for you, If not, then it's not.

Given the fact that there are many other towns in KS, many of which have lower costs of housing, etc. why not just move to one of them if you're not happy here?

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

Imagine how much better it would be if voting was limited to property owners with wealth surpassing $100 million, who are white and male, and not Jewish, or Catholic, or Mormon, or .....(God forbid) Mohammedians.

Wait! That's the Kobach ten-year voting rights plan for Kansas.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

BUT pay close attention...

City and County Hall may come out against "tax increases" yet raise taxes in another manner.

Those have other names like water,trash,sewer,fees,fines etc etc etc. Yes those are taxes hidden behind other terms nonetheless they are taxes. These are easy to increase because citizens never question this approach.


kernal 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, but then all Lawrencians would be paying that tax, not just property owners.

kernal 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, but the majority of Lawrencians would be paying that tax, not just property owners.

Pastor_Bedtime 6 years, 9 months ago

Let's start by ending cronyism and corporate welfare to Compton. Let him pay for his own pet projects, and for his monopolization of the local development community.

George Lippencott 6 years, 9 months ago

Did Mr Lawhorn get this right? One of our lawgivers is demanding more police protection because the “Untermensch” may riot because their gathering place (SRS) is being moved? Wow. And this man holds public office. I have always thought that those receiving public services are as sensible as the rest of us.

rousseau108 6 years, 9 months ago

No, it means that with the SRS services cut, those demands will now be placed on the police department. More demand on an already understaffed and overworked police force. But nice try with the faux-outrage.

George Lippencott 6 years, 9 months ago

Help me here - just exactly how will the police department replace SRS. The latter interfaces between the system and the service consumer. The police can not do that. Perhaps you had in mind that the police will drive the consumers to KC or Topeka??

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Do you really not get the point?

If people have a harder time accessing programs that help them, crime may very well increase, ...

This is part of why it doesn't make fiscal sense to just cut social services - we'll probably wind up paying more later in other ways.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 9 months ago

If SRS is not available, who else can we call for help?

Scott Morgan 6 years, 9 months ago

Just say no to Olive Gardens, Lowes, and other revenue makers. Sure glad we allowed Walmart to build the tiny store. Get out of here you nasty business people.

Taxing is the best way to generate revenue right? Right?

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago

They said No to Lowe's at Bauer Farms, and didn't present the option of locating there without a CID. As for OG, he decision was more about limiting competition, as the site seems to clearly qualify for the Neighborhood Revitalization Act as it is written today. PIRC's decision, which will likely be upheld by the Commission, will likely result in another lawsuit, that we as a City can ill-afford to pay or fight (given the sentiment about Lawrence being unfriendly to business, which is simply a fact), and we will lose.

Catalano 6 years, 9 months ago

No, you dip. It's not Olive's the property owners (aka developers) who bought the property at too high a price. They don't deserve any corporate welfare from the Lawrence taxpayers. Pay attention.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago


You pay attention you left wing moron who doesn;t have a clue. I understand the abatement goes to the developer, but if the property qualifies for the NRA, then legally they should receive the incentive. Instead, you morons like to refer to it as corporate welfare, despite the fact it cost you or the taxpayers a dime (as they receive the abatement on the incremental increase in tax value, and we won't have to hire any additional police, fire, etc... to serve the location). So, I have paid attention for far too long in listening to you and your gang of socialists call public incentives corporate welfare. It is time for you to pay attention to the irreparable damage your heedings have caused our City. We are a City in decline, and your narrow minded views is a big cause of it. Any time you would like to debate it in person, I am certainly game.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Except if the fact that it qualifies is because the developers bought property and let it sit empty and deteriorate for a number of years.

Then we reward that behavior with tax incentives.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago


I concur with your point, but the NRA should be rewritten to account for behavior in which commercial property is intentionally left in disrepair. As it is though, the City, in my opinion, failed to properly apply the act as it is written, subjecting us to another lawsuit, that we will likely lose. Further, the misapplication fosters the "business unfriendly" reptuation that Lawrence has earned this past decade.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago

Foolish thinking. The CID is the best tool there is as you can't call it corporate welfare as it has no direct cost on the City of Lawrence (i.e. the developer/business is competign for market share on their own dime). Consumers choose whether to exchange their hard earned cash for the 1-2% increase in sales tax premium. If the value proposition isn't strong enough, consumers will take their business elsewhere. Further, competing stores ought to be estatic about having a 1-2% cost advantage, but if they can rally the troops to call it a sneaky tax, all the better.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago

You're obviously right Gandalf. The new taxing authority granted to the Legends and Town Center has resulted in no new investment and certainly stopped people from shopping there. But, most people like to shop in older, outdated buildings, so Lawrence is fine.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

If customers will willingly pay 1-2% more to shop at a given store, why wouldn't the store just raise their prices by that amount?

Unless there are clear signs posted at the entrance announcing the extra tax, many people will be unaware of it, especially if it isn't printed on the receipt.

This is the only way that using the "tax" works better than simply raising prices, if people are unaware of it.

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

The wage increases seem questionable right now.

Let's let the employees choose: Put an ad in the paper for a hundred city positions at 90% of current salaries, see how many quality responses the City gets, and then go back to the current employees and ask if they still need those wage increases.

I personally know several city residents--hard working, well-qualified--who have been unemployed well over 6 months who I am fairly certain would think working for the City would be an answer to prayers.

independent_rebel 6 years, 9 months ago

From what has been told to me is that only those city employees that belong to a union have received raises (police and fire personnel). The regular employees have not received raises for several years according to my neighbor, yet her health insurance and prescription costs have soared each and every year. From how it has been explained to her, the city has been riding the backs of the regular employees the last three to five years just to keep the rest of us from having our taxes raised. Every year they receive a pat-on-the-back letter from the city manager for doing more with less but also get told they get no raises and their health insurance and prescription costs will once again rise.

parrothead8 6 years, 9 months ago

"A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. A 2.8 mill increase would raise the property taxes of a $200,000 home by $64.40 for the year."

Can someone explain how this works? If 1 mill is $1 in property tax for every $1000 in assessed valuation, wouldn't a 2.8 mill increase raise the property taxes of a $200,000 home by $560? Where does the $64.40 figure come from?

200,000 / 1000 = 200 200 x 2.8 = 560

del888 6 years, 9 months ago

I wondered the same thing. Basic 'thinking' tells you that a 200,000 property has 200 mils. AND 2.8 per mill = $560. This is that fuzzy math that all the politicians use!

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Assessed valuation is not synonymous with market value.

It's a much smaller amount.

notanota 6 years, 9 months ago

You know, they'd do everyone a favor by using clearer figures. Other cities base their mills off of market value. I'm not sure why we don't.

irvan moore 6 years, 9 months ago

this commission is a disaster, build a parking garage with library bonds and then take existing parking spaces in lots, the parking garage and along New Hampshire street, none of this makes sense.

nativeson 6 years, 9 months ago

Voters agreed to a 1.5 mill increase for the library. The commission should stick with that and fund services within the mill levy they have had for the last 5 years.

rousseau108 6 years, 9 months ago

Actually the voters voted for a 2 mill increase for the library, but city said they could do it with just the 1.7. Of course, that's not considering the added expenses to staff, outfit, and operate this new library. I love how the city always moans that revenues are flat, yet they turn away businesses like the Olive Garden that would have brought property and sales taxes, not to mention drawing in more people from neighboring areas like Baldwin and Ottawa. I guess the city was just too scared of the big bad chain restaurant and wanted to protect the local Italian restaurant Paisano's (oh wait, that restaurant started in Topeka . . .).

nativeson 6 years, 9 months ago

I agree rousseau108. The Olive Garden development with the schedule of rebate proposed still produced at least $250k of incremental property taxes over the first 10 years. It is difficult to estimate sales tax, but some sales would have been incremental. The outfitting of the new library space should be covered by the $1mm being raised by the Library Foundation. Let's hope that operating costs remain stable.

puddleglum 6 years, 9 months ago


did I just see 2% water increase AND a 2% sewer increase AND a 2.7% trash disposal increase???

wtf? a 6.7% increase to my already ridiculous water bill? (my bill is already 'good 'ol-boyed out' with $12 of water usage and $32 for the sewer.....cute, huh?)

so you can't spend money fast enough can you? please look at your next water bill.....who else is being charged MORE for the phony sewer charges than the water that they actually use?

enough is enough.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 9 months ago

Check your calculations. The total increase on your water bill should be between 2% and 2.7% based on the information you provided.

George Lippencott 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey rousseau108 (anonymous) how about clarifying you statement that SRS demands will now be placed on the police. I lack imagination. Or is this another canard to justify more taxes or to look like we are doing something in response to what Mr.Sam has done.

Mr. Sam does not care if we raise our taxes to replace services he takes away. The rest of Kansas - the people who elected him - will not pay. We just get to shoot ourselves in the foot and he laughs to the bank.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

"The wage increases seem questionable right now.

Let's let the employees choose: Put an ad in the paper for a hundred city positions at 90% of current salaries, see how many quality responses the City gets, and then go back to the current employees and ask if they still need those wage increases.

I personally know several city residents--hard working, well-qualified--who have been unemployed well over 6 months who I am fairly certain would think working for the City would be an answer to prayers."

This thinking is how wages are reduced in a community. With lower wages come less expendable cash thus less tax dollar revenue thus the need to increase taxes to pay the bills that were established during the inflationary boom town economics period. A lack of discipline raised its' ugly head.

Stop growing the city it cost too much money ! Instead focus on growing the economy with the tools Lawrence has at hand. Expanding our city/county tax bills is not fiscally responsible but more like reckless economics which is what took the nations economy down the tubes.

Lawrence,Kansas taxpayers do not want to sustain laissez faire government because it makes zero economic sense. AND taxpayers cannot afford such nonsense.

Bob Forer 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't think the city is required by law to follow through on the library project. I believe the vote simply authorized, but did not direct the city to proceed. Why not inject a little common sense into the discussion and explore postponing the library project until the economy improves.

notanota 6 years, 9 months ago

Because doing it now would actually make our local economy improve by creating a few jobs during the construction, and the price is actually pretty small all considered.

Bob Forer 6 years, 9 months ago

On one side we have a few short term jobs. ON the other side we have a permanent tax increase. (I've seen plenty of mill levy increases. I have yet to see a taxing authority LOWER a mill levy, at least not in Lawrence).

Please explain how building the library now will "improve the local economy".

notanota 6 years, 9 months ago

I already explained that doing so now would create jobs during the construction, and yes, even short term jobs are a help during an economic downturn.

Bob Forer 6 years, 9 months ago

When accompanied by higher permanent taxes? At what point does the detriment of those taxes outweigh the de minimis temporary gain in jobs. If you are not an economist, you are only speculating.

notanota 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, when accompanied by higher permanent taxes of a whopping $64 per year on 200k homes in an environment of some of the lowest taxes in any industrialized nation.

notanota 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, when accompanied by higher permanent taxes of a whopping $64 per year on 200k homes in an environment of some of the lowest taxes in any industrialized nation.

Bob Forer 6 years, 9 months ago

But business real estate is taxed at a higher rate, and business real estate tends to be much more valuable, as it is usually located in a desirable area. Try telling business owners that the increase is a mere drop in the bucket.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 9 months ago

We should not be too hasty about opposing a property tax increase. Some time ago, the commission actually reduced property taxes. They probably should not have done that, but it was all the rage at the time.

Property values are down, so goes property tax revenue. The city has never kept up with population growth for police and fire protection. Brownback is eliminating services at the state level, and we have to pick up at the local level. (Wasn't "unfunded mandates" coined during Reagan's presidency?)

We have to deal with what is. The housing market will take a good five years to level off. We are over-built. Kansas responds very slowly to changes in the country's economy. Sam Brownback is the governor for 3 1/2 more years. Let him know what you think, but we cannot survive on complaints. TheSychophant has the right idea. Prioritize and plan.

Terry Rossiter 6 years, 9 months ago

Everyone has good points here, and there is some value in most. One thing I would like to point out is that in the recent history of Lawrence and it's government is that it has discouraged outside business from coming into Lawrence as it would upset the local interest. This town is run from a business standpoint from a very few select individuals that own Mass St and other close by areas. Recently Lowes was rejected from building a center on 6th St., Olive Garden was refused a tax incentive for building on Iowa St. , Mars M&M was not given the proper incentives or attention from the Lawrence group to compete with Topeka. All of these businesses would of brought jobs to Lawrence, but because the local heirarchy wants to preserve their interest in the Mass. St. area they, the "new guys" were refused. Personally, I would like a choice in home improvements and not have to go to KC or Topeka to spend my money. I also would like to visit an Olive Garden without going to KC or Topeka. I would love to see more industrial growth in the Lawrence area that M&M would of provided in the Lawrence area. Everytime that one of us and our familys go to KC or Topeka to spend our dollars is one time more that these dollars are not being spent in Lawrence. Now, we are hearing of yet another mill increase in our taxes, folks, why should we pay for the failures of our local government? Their interests are not of a healthy community. I am not going to point out individuals but I am going to point out you as a voter and hope that you will go to the ballots and make Lawrence the best place to live as it very well has the potential to be. Please consider this.

irvan moore 6 years, 9 months ago

i hate the soon to be built parking monument to the city commission. they had to know what the budget was going to look like and still they piggy backed this onto the library. the only benefit to this idiotic waste of money is for downtown and the commissioners.

lunacydetector 6 years, 9 months ago

the terrible economy isn't going to increase people riding the T bus. a new national survey found zero increase in people taking public transit. so, we were sold a bill of goods by our local elitists, who want to raise our taxes more. it never ends.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 9 months ago

The parking garage is part of the long range planning for the empT, and will be there mostly to be a hub for this money pit. The $4 million dollar support facility on North Iowa too, is part of this plan and we still have the sales tax and basically give rides away on the empT.

Be careful for what you ask for.

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