To the editor:
Recently, in the Journal-World, Kansas University was said to be rated about 47th in the nation. Lawrence was rated in the top 10 cities for retirement living. Now Lawrence can be rated No. 1 in the nation for having the highest costs for city utilities.
How will this happen? The city will end the tax break for city utilities. We the citizens of Lawrence pay for these utilities through taxes and fees. Those fees and taxes will allow the city to transfer as much as $4.7 million in 2012 from the utility department to the general fund. This amount or some part thereof has been ongoing for the last several years. So our fees and rates have been generating a surplus.
Now the city is comparing itself to a private utility, such as Westar, and will pay itself a franchise fee for operating in the city. Who else will operate in the city? It will pay itself property taxes for its water and sewer facilities and for the use of its own right of way. By itemizing these costs to what a private company pays, Lawrence will charge its citizens $4.7 million per year more in rates and fees. This is how the city can give tax rebates to renovate the Masonic Temple, run a new water line to the East Hills Business Park for a private company, run water and sewer lines to the airport, spend $100,000 on the skateboard park and spend $5 million to $7 million for a new northwest community center.