Despite a down economy, a trio of sales taxes approved in 2008 to improve infrastructure and public transit are meeting expectations, according to a new report from Lawrence City Hall.
“We’re continuing to watch it closely,” City Manager David Corliss said of sales tax collections. “We’re very much impacted by the national economy, but we’ve been fortunate that we were very conservative in how much these sales taxes would generate.”
In the works
The three taxes — a 0.3 percent sales tax for infrastructure, a 0.2 percent sales tax for transit operations and a 0.05 percent sales tax for transit enhancement — generated $7,332,143 in 2010. That was about 1.3 percent more than the $7.23 million than City Hall leaders had projected when they were pitching the sales tax proposals to voters in November 2008.
The result, Corliss said, is that city infrastructure projects remain on schedule. Among some of the larger projects underway or planned include:
- A rebuilding of Kasold Drive from Clinton Parkway to 31st Street. Work is under way on the project that will completely rebuild the section of street, add turn lanes, make sidewalk improvements and improve site distances. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, Corliss said. The biggest news, though, is the project has come in significantly under budget. The city had budgeted $6 million for the project, but bids came in at $4.8 million.
- A rebuilding of Iowa Street from Harvard Road to the Irving Hill Overpass. The city is using $1 million of the savings from the Kasold project to partially fund the $6 million project, which will add a center turn lane to the section of Iowa and will add turn lanes to the Bob Billings and Iowa intersection. Survey and design work already has begun on the project. Construction is expected to take place 2012. Construction may take two seasons to complete, said public works director Chuck Soules.
- A $3.4 million reconstruction of Bob Billings Parkway to Kasold will partially begin this year, Soules said. Crews will rebuild the westbound lanes this year, and plan to repair the eastbound lanes in 2012.
- A $5 million stormwater pumping station for North Lawrence. The city has recently purchased the property at Fifth and Maple streets and cleared the site. But construction is not expected to begin until 2013.
- $77,000 in sales tax money was spent in 2010 to finish up construction on the Burroughs Creek Trail in East Lawrence. The total trail project was about $350,000.
- $397,000 in sales tax money was used to pay for local matches for transit buses. Transit administrator Robert Nugent said the city received six 25-foot transit buses in 2010. It also is expected to take delivery of three hybrid buses in July and three 31-foot standard buses in October.
- About $2.2 million in sales tax money was spent on other transit expenses, such as fuel, the contract for the service’s operator and maintenance expenses. l $1 million in sales tax money was spent to partially pay for a ladder truck and a fire engine. The two pieces of fire equipment had a total cost of $1.85 million.
The city’s annual sales tax report also listed several other projects that are scheduled for 2012 to 2019, when the sales tax will expire. They include:
- A $3.1 million reconstruction of Wakarusa from Bob Billings Parkway to 18th Street in 2015.
- A $3.8 million reconstruction of 19th Street from Iowa to Naismith beginning in 2015.
- A $4.9 million reconstruction of Kasold from Harvard to Bob Billings Parkway in 2017.
- A $4.6 million reconstruction of Wakarusa from Bob Billings Parkway to Legends Drive in 2018.
- A $5.1 million reconstruction of Bob Billings Parkway from Iowa to Crestline in 2019.
Corliss said the list is scheduled to change as the city continues to evaluate the condition of streets — and also depending on future sales tax collections. Corliss said he believes retail sales will begin to pick up, hopefully soon.
“I say, let’s sell some Final Four T-shirts,” Corliss said.
The city-appointed Sales Tax Audit Committee approved the annual sales tax report. The report will be forwarded to the City Commission for review.