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Letters to the Editor

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June 14, 2011

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So developers want financial help to open an Olive Garden in Lawrence. Never mind that they will open pretty close to more locally owned Paisano’s. Never mind that we have several existing Italian restaurants in town. Never mind the frequently published discussions of over-restauranting this town versus encouraging retailers. Never mind the many other new restaurants that got no financial relief to open.

Never mind that they will employ a few managers and cooks and servers, many of whom will be existing student-employees, probably trained at locally owned restaurants. Never mind that they will not hire scores or possibly hundreds of employees like Lowe’s would have. Never mind that the public already felt that giving financial help to an architecture firm to “stay” in town and hire no one just to move to a new location they liked was simply crazy. Never mind that no one is holding a fundraiser to keep Olive Garden’s parent company or the developers in business.

Put all of this aside. And explain to me why we should be giving a financially successful, national restaurant chain or the developers tax exemptions that will be taken from our property taxes that would have gone to our public school system (presently closing schools and intending to consolidate other schools) and other municipal departments looking to finance needs that will no longer be funded by our state. By all means, welcome Olive Garden, as long as they pay their fair share to our schools and our municipal functions.

Comments

Getaroom 3 years, 6 months ago

Olive Garden should not get any special treatment in terms of tax incentives. They offer a few low wage jobs, better than no job of course no question about that. Like any sane business they want to make a profit, but let them do so and pay their way like the rest of us. No tax breaks.

Fred Mertz 3 years, 6 months ago

It has been stated that it is not Olive Garden that is getting the special treatment, but the developers. Regardless of who actually would get the tax break, both parties benefit and we the taxpayers and other local businesses lose.

So either way, I agree, NO TAX BREAKS.

nativeson 3 years, 6 months ago

Let's be clear. No taxes are being taken away. The property will continue to pay the same level of taxes that this property has paid for the decade or so it has been a vacant lot. We now have an opportunity to rid the community of a blighted corner and collect increasing property taxes on the ground as the graduated abatement expires over time with significant improvement and value to the property.

Who is paying their own way? Not downtown retailers. They get a perpetual subsidy for sidewalks, parking, security and landscaping paid for each year by property taxes. This is a good program that supports our town square. However, it is not accurate to portray that all retailers pay their own freight. They simply do not.

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

Giving these developers (and others who act similarly) tax breaks just rewards and reinforces bad behavior, in the form of buying land/property, and then letting it sit until it becomes blighted.

I'd say we want to discourage and penalize that sort of behavior rather than rewarding it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

By your logic, the city, county and school district shouldn't collect property taxes on any improvements or expansions at any business ever again.

xclusive85 3 years, 6 months ago

That's not what he said at all. What he said is that over time, we will collect taxes on the improvements to the property, instead of just collecting what the taxes are now for who knows how long. Basically, we will know that we will be collecting more taxes on the property over a set period of time, rather than just the same taxes for an unkown period of time.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

Hardly. They likely want the abatement for 20 or so years. By the end of that time, more improvements will likely be needed, and since the precedent has been set, they'll expect another round of abatements, or they'll threaten to abandon the property.

Jimo 3 years, 6 months ago

"The property will continue to pay the same level of taxes that this property has paid for the decade or so it has been a vacant lot."

Suppose I can get the same level of taxes for my house as if the property were just a vacant lot?

Sorry, don't whizz on my shoes and tell me it just a love offering. No more tax welfare for the wealthy.

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Tax welfare....for this logic to work, one must first pressume the money in question belongs to the government in the first place - not the people who work for and earn it. Letting those who work for and earn the money keep more of what they earn is called "saving people money." The idea this "costs" government is BS simply becuase government has never created a penney of wealth. One must first actually have something before you can lose it. The subject tax money does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people who pay the taxes.

Jimo 3 years, 6 months ago

Using the tax code to engage in rightwing social engineering is not "letting people keep their money."

If you want to be a tax cheat there are plenty of uncivilized places on this earth where you can get away with that anti-social behavior. Here, we collect revenues to pay for the debts we incur in running civilization. Pay up.

scaramouchepart2 3 years, 6 months ago

Just who do you think pays taxes? Just the businesses? Even with that thought, do you think all the other businesses feel it is fair they pay full price while some other business gets breaks?By the way, we all pay taxes to the city coffers.

Jimo 3 years, 6 months ago

Why do you keep posting evidence of your economic ignorance? ROFL

George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

Carried to the natural conclusion we should subsidize all busiiness so we can create ever more jobs. Tax rate may be a biit steep though. The bribes will be eye watering.

imastinker 3 years, 6 months ago

I can support tax abatements for manufacturing plants and places where they support high wage paying jobs, but not this. There's lots of places to eat here and a lot of the money earned there is under the table anyway (tips).

tomatogrower 3 years, 6 months ago

The developers should just sell the property at a loss to someone who wants to do something with it. Sorry, investment is a gamble, sometime you win, sometime you lose. All the capitalist here say that teachers should suffer along with the rest of the economy. How about the developers? Why shouldn't they suffer too?

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Talk about suffering, lets make darn sure the unemployed folks stay that way. Why on earth would we ever want the city to do anything to help them out. Clearly, missing out the opportunity to soak some business for more tax money is far more important than doing anything to help unemployment.

tomatogrower 3 years, 6 months ago

Are you going to help out the teachers who were laid off?

xclusive85 3 years, 6 months ago

Again, we aren't going to be collecting less taxes than we are now are we?

Resident10 3 years, 6 months ago

Wouldn't Olive Garden potentially have a negative effect on Pisano's employment potential?

scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

Private profit, socialized risk. Have we not seen enough of this scam?

bolshavik_vw 3 years, 6 months ago

I would love to see it here in Lawrence, I could get a job there as a server, or bartender, and it would be closer for us to go to eat. I love them a lot more than Paisano's. And I can afford them a lot easier as well.

scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

And why should the citizens of Lawrence make special exception to taxes? Because you want a crummy job and bland place to eat?

formerfarmer 3 years, 6 months ago

Down with Olive Garden because there is competition. Now Red Lobster, on the other hand....

tolawdjk 3 years, 6 months ago

It is a sad statement indeed when Red Lobster is considered fine dining. A bag of Kroger brand frozen shrimp, a decent grill, and a pound of butter and you too can replicate 90% of the Red Lobster menu.

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

The city providing an incentive to attract business grows our economy, broadens the tax base, and provides jobs for those who need them. We can carp about "fair share" and end up with no share. Government does not create wealth, private enterprize does. I'd much rather see the city miss out on some tax money if it results in a number of our citizens getting off unemployment and going back to work every day.

scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

As noted in the letter, this action likely harms a local business and its employees.

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Anyone ever wonder why Texas has created over 730,000 new jobs in the last ten years, and California has lost 600,000 jobs during the same time period? Theres a lesson for Lawrence here.

gudpoynt 3 years, 6 months ago

Texas did away with personal and corporate income taxes, which has lead to: 1) job creation 2) one of the the largest wealth disparities, by state, in the US 3) a $27 billion budget shortfall.

One might think that when you've run up a huge debt by essentially choking off your revenue stream, and can no longer afford basic state services for the most vulnerable citizens, such as public education and Medicaid, that you'd reconsider your strategy, and maybe think that taking in some money through taxes might be prudent.

But in the case of Rick Perry and the Texas legislature, one would be wrong. Instead, they vowed to refuse any increase in taxes whatsoever, and instead, cut $31 billion dollars, primarily from.... you guessed it!...... public education and Medicaid.

gudpoynt 3 years, 6 months ago

I'd be willing to hear that argument. So is Rick Perry evidently.

weeslicket 3 years, 6 months ago

i believe they have that constitutional right, oddly enough. they use to be their own nation. and can become their own nation once again. (and then you can move there)

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Its absolutley amazing to me to watch someone find fault with 730,000 people finding a job. The simple fact is unemployment and the poverty that results from it are more important things for government to fix than is funding Medicade and Public Education.

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

That's not a fact.

It's an opinion, a value judgement.

Imho, both unemployment and government services are important.

gudpoynt 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm not finding fault with the creation of 730,000 jobs.

I'm finding fault with the shortsightedness that sustained job growth in a healthy economy has little to do with public health or education.

An educated, healthy public is the foundation of a healthy economy, not a detractor from it.

Republican governor's and state houses around the country seem to have either lost this idea, or they're taking advantage of the fact that their constituency has seemed to have lost this idea, in an effort to better secure the private industries of their biggest supporters and themselves.

Bottom line, the health of those private industries and markets is more important to them than the health and education of the public. It couldn't be more clear from their words and actions.

What is unfortunate is that the debate has been presented as a forced choice between stimulating the private sector through lower taxes for everybody, and severely cutting public sector programs that millions of Americans rely on. Damn shame.

scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

Well, Afghanistan and Somalia are two examples that come to mind

scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

Likely because there is a war machine to feed and too much campaign money needed from corrupt donors.

rockchalker52 3 years, 6 months ago

Make the deal. At least make some sort of deal. OG equals long term supply of jobs from a solid company. Clean up the corner & let's eat.

rtwngr 3 years, 6 months ago

Olive Garden. Yum. I say make the deal. Jimo, overplayedhistory, and their ilk can eat elsewhere.

scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

Why not you and your ilk pay the lost tax revenue so that you can eat the slop you want.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

From who's pockets shall the tax dollar moochers pick?

I say get a refund from the sellers of property OR ask the real estate/developer industry for they have done exceptionally well over the past 25 years.

The real estate/developer industry is the only group that has made tons of money as the community itself slipped into Economic Displacement which is business unfriendly and definitely taxpayer unfriendly.

Considering the below message where in the world will the tax dollars come from?

http://www.cnbc.com/id/43395857

US Housing Crisis Is Now Worse Than Great Depression

by: Jeff Cox CNBC.com Staff Writer Published: Tuesday, 14 Jun 2011 | 12:04 PM ET

It's official: The housing crisis that began in 2006 and has recently entered a double dip is now worse than the Great Depression.

Prices have fallen some 33 percent since the market began its collapse, greater than the 31 percent fall that began in the late 1920s and culminated in the early 1930s, according to Case-Shiller data.

The news comes as the Federal Reserve considers whether the economy has regained enough strength to stand on its own and as unemployment remains at a still-elevated 9.1 percent, throwing into question whether the recovery is real.

"The sharp fall in house prices in the first quarter provided further confirmation that this housing crash has been larger and faster than the one during the Great Depression," Paul Dales, senior economist at Capital Economics in Toronto, wrote in research for clients.

According to Case-Shiller, which provides the most closely followed housing industry data, prices dropped 1.9 percent in the first quarter, a move that the firm interpreted as a clear double dip in prices.

Moreover, Dales said prices likely have not completed their downturn.

"The only comfort is that the latest monthly data show that towards the end of the first quarter prices started to fall at a more modest rate," he said. "Nonetheless, prices are likely to fall by a further 3 percent this year, resulting in a 5 percent drop over the year as a whole."

Jimo 3 years, 6 months ago

Ho hum. One more day that Senators Roberts and Moran vote to continue tax welfare, this time for ethanol. Why would a Republican care how much deeper the deficit grows?

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/166369-senate-votes-to-preserve-6-billion-in-ethanol-subsidies

GOP Porkfest continues.

Eileen Jones 3 years, 6 months ago

No taxpayer subsidizing of Olive Garden or the landowner! The idea is outrageous.

There was a time when businesses used to GIVE BACK to the communities that allowed them to make a profit. How times have changed.

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

The developers are the ones asking for more, in the form of tax breaks.

Or do you think they shouldn't have to pay property taxes on the assessed value of their property?

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

Of course the language is funny.

But the point is valid - by providing infrastructure, employees, and customers, communities are vital for business success.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 6 months ago

Did you not just read about Perkins, Arbys, First Watch, times are tough.

I like the idea of Olive Garden and this ilk. These are places one can suggest to out of town folks for a lunch or dinner. One knows what to expect.

Try this with McHippy Fish Shanty and Candle Shop.

scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

Blandness all across the USA to serve those to timid and adventurous to try an unknown resturaunt.

Is it any wonder this country is ruled by right wing grifters?

tolawdjk 3 years, 6 months ago

That's what I want when to go visiting a new city....same places I eat at when I'm at home.

Oh wait, that stopped when I stopped worrying about what the toy was inside the cardboard box.

Cruise over and watch some of the various Food Channels. No one does a food expose on Applebee's.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like I entertain older folks. Personally, when my life partner and I travel we love new and different cuisine. We travel a lot.

Been arguing for Olive Garden and have never eaten in one. Wife has and likes it. When doing Italian like Johnny Cascones in OP. Do like Red Lobster.

But, this stuff happens. Meet me ? lets do lunch then ? You can actually ruin a day when say for example suggesting the Mexican joint in North Lawrence and finding out it's closed for lunch. Been there.

Actually had a small Lawrence place tell me the cook was late and we would have to wait last March. No names, but had a upscale place on Mass. Street ran out of the daily special and had another chef try to make it. Just awful.

Bad enough when dining alone, bad when you're meeting 6 or more friends from out of town.

Not right, but much easier to say lets meet at Olive Garden have drink with lunch then..........

George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

JAFS

Would you not be happier in say Cuba??

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

Bizarre comment, George, even for you.

Just for the record, I'm quite happy in Lawrence, KS, USA.

How about you?

George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

Apparently not since Mr Brownback was elected by the majority of Kansans (big majority).

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

Actually, if you look up the numbers, you will find that about 49% of eligible voters turned out.

Of that percentage, about 2/3 of them voted for him.

That means about 1/3 of eligible voters in KS elected the governor.

But, on a personal level, his election doesn't affect my life negatively - it still works quite well and is very satisfying for me.

How's yours going?

vuduchyld 3 years, 6 months ago

Economic Development 101

Primary jobs are created by companies who have no real local competition, except in the labor market. Typically, companies that create primary jobs create more product than will be consumed in local markets, so they ship product outside of the local area in exchange for revenues.

Some examples of primary jobs might include manufacturing--think about the pet food plant, Grandstand, Horizon Food Systems, Brown Cargo, etc... Might include architecture....I don't know enough about the Lawrence architecture companies, but isn't there a company in KC that designs a lot of the newer stadiums all over the country? There are plenty of creators of primary jobs that aren't manufacturing-related.

Personally, I think it would be ludicrous to give tax breaks to any company unless they create primary employment. Why subsidize a company with local competition? Why subsidize a company that doesn't bring in revenue from outside the local area? All you really do is choose one competitor over another.

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