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Archive for Monday, July 9, 2012

Lawrence City Commission to review plans to upgrade police department through sales tax

July 9, 2012

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Lawrence city commissioners are being presented with a new set of scenarios — all of them involving new sales taxes — to fund a multimillion-dollar effort to boost the city’s police force.

At their Tuesday afternoon budget study session, commissioners will hear staff proposals to fund major improvements to the Lawrence Police Department, which include building a new headquarters building and adding more than 40 new positions to the force.

The proposals differ from a $42 million plan presented earlier this summer. None of the new proposals includes property tax increases, and some of the plans call for a smaller police headquarters facility and propose to add new police positions at slower rate.

Here’s a look at the latest proposals:

• A $30-million police headquarters building and 46 police positions all added over a four-year period. That’s all unchanged from the proposal made earlier this summer. What’s different is that the scenario proposes a 0.4-percent sales tax increase that would last for at least 20 years, but perhaps longer. The original proposal called for a 1-percent sales tax increase for approximately three years, coupled with property tax increases totaling 4.7 mills.

• A $24-million police headquarters building and the addition of the 46 police positions over seven years. This scenario would require a 0.35 percent sales tax for at least 20 years.

• A $24-million police headquarters building and the addition of the 46 police positions over 10 years. This scenario would require a 0.35 percent sales tax for at least 20 years.

Staff members also note that all the above mentioned sales taxes could be decreased by 0.1 percent, if the city is willing to use a portion of the city’s share of the countywide 1-cent sales tax to fund the police project.

Any new sales tax to pay for the police project would require a public election. City commissioners aren’t scheduled to make any decisions about the police project at their meeting on Tuesday, but they are expected to give staff members feedback on the latest proposals.

Comments

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

The best way to modernize the system without costing the taxpayers a lot of money is to consolidate the Douglas County Sheriff's Department and Lawrence Police Department into one law enforcement entity. They did that many years ago in Manhattan, and now they have the Riley County Police Department which serves both Manhattan and rural Riley County. By consolidating the departments you have one communications center, and one set of bureaucrats, at a tremendous savings. It made sense in Riley County where Manhattan contained most of the county's population and it makes sense here in Lawrence as well.

Of course, such a move would unpopular with the brass at both agencies, as neither group would want to share or lose power or positions. But what they want is irrelevant. They are here to serve us.

It would require passing state legislation.

I am surprised nobody has even suggested it.

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Carol Bowen 1 year, 9 months ago

These are the areas that I am aware of where our police are stretched too thin:

Traffic problems, including youthful zippy driving. Incidents involving liquor including students falling off of rooftops, loud parties, drunken driving. Cybercrime. Drug trafficking. (Note, that except for cybercrime, emergency services are needed too.)

Students buy lots of stuff, so it makes sense to increase the sales tax. Stiffer fines for driving offenses. Stiffer fines and higher taxes on liquor. Swifter consequences from at the beginning of each semester. This requires more police. Pressue KU to take responsibility for its clientele. Frankly, I think educating the students is lame. They've heard it all before. Serious consequences are needed.

It's difficult to think of ways for the users to pay the price without affecting the rest of us. I.e. sales tax. I guess we are buying peace.

Not that three policemen are equivalent to one position - three shifts.

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notorious_agenda 1 year, 9 months ago

Renaissance, Very true, I use gas to drive to local stores only to find out that online I can get it shipped for free and 20$ less for a 40$ item(50% less). That savings pays for the gas that I wasted and that I will use the whole week when it's an item that I'm going to buy either way. Now I am informed enough to just save the money on gas for any small non-perishable items, however, the city is just raising the property taxes to offset our conservation of gas(loss of revenue from gasoline taxes due to Kansans hard fought conservation). The more they raise the taxes the less gas I will use, and I will buy locally less as well as the price gap widens further.

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Matthew Herbert 1 year, 9 months ago

increasing an already high sales tax? Good idea! Oh well, I guess I'll just continue to shop online. Problem solved.

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texasjustice 1 year, 9 months ago

here is a grand idea,have all the people that use our road ways to have license plates on their mopeds,bicycles ,ect.Pay the personal property tax on such vehicles that would put a big chunk of money towards the officers we need to patrol our streets

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somedude20 1 year, 9 months ago

Lawrence needs a super hero to help us out. These are dire times, people are dying in the streets and gun fights start every few hours...Lawrence is a war zone. Young puppies addicted to cat nip, CAT NIP, PEOPLE! Spiderman, Hulk, Superman...please help, the crime is just so bad. Of course this being Lawrence, we would get Hempman

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 9 months ago

STOP SPENDING MONEY WE DONT HAVE !!! It's not that fricking hard guys. The police dept is not broken, don't fix it. Sure it would be nice to have a state of the art library, state of the art police dept, and whatever else is on the table but be responsible. Let's not spend what we do not have. Start a fund for the projects and build in the future. Everyone is scrambling for the cheap loans. It does not matter if loans are 4% if we cant afford them at 0%. This is nonsense. Add more to our sales tax %? Let's keep doing that until Lawrence has the highest sales tax in the state. That's a great idea to attract new customers and retirees. Let's try and run our city's finances with the some fiscal responsibility and not like an open, bottomless check book.

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smitty 1 year, 9 months ago

The city is honed in on parking and police? Parking fees were increased but never decreased to add police to our city payroll. This fee is enough to keep officers added to the department perpetually.

CITY WILL INCREAS PARKING FEES TO HIRE NEW POLICE DOWNTOWN By Tim Carpenter — Lawrence Journal-World August 21, 1996

The cost of parking downtown will increase in an effort to decrease crime.

The city commission Tuesday voted to take a bite out of crime in downtown Lawrence by raising parking rates and fines for people patronizing that area.

In a deal acceptable to commissioners, the police chief and a downtown merchants association, the cost of parking legally and illegally will increase Jan. 1 to bolster police patrols in the shopping district.

"We need to add law enforcement presence," David Longhurst, president of Downtown Lawrence Inc., told commissioners.

There was no public opposition to the plan.

Here's the bottom line:

The basic parking fine will double from $1 to $2. The fifth parking ticket in a month -- and every subsequent ticket that month -- will cost violators $15 each. The parking rate in 10-hour spots will double from 25 cents to 50 cents. Police Chief Ron Olin will use the extra revenue to add three officers to the force. Without approval Tuesday, Olin couldn't have hired the extra officers unitl 1998. Training of the new officers begins Sept. 3.

He said the tentative plan was to create a special downtown district and assign primary control to three officers. Other officers would patrol the area part-time.

Commissioner Bob Moody said he was concerned changes in the rate structure wouldn't generate enough revenue to support the officers.

"We'll have to see," said City Manager Mike Wildgen.

He convinced commissioners not to increase Massachusetts Street short-term parking rates, which stand at 25 cents for 90 minutes.

"I would not touch Mass. at this time," he cautioned.

He said new computer software permitted the city to track the number of tickets issued for each vehicle on a monthly basis. That will allow assessment of the $15 fines.

Longhurst said the scheme adopted by the commission might convince people to quit parking all day in the free two-hour lots. The current $1 penalty for exceeding that time limit is insufficient to get them to park in long-term lots, he said.

"We need to discourage long-term parking in the two-hour lots," he said. "(It's) important to retailers, who depend on that turnover."

Longhurst said future increases in parking revenue should be used to improve and expand downtown parking lots.

Copyright 2012 The Lawrence Journal-World.

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LifeInLawrence 1 year, 9 months ago

It is unfortunate but Lawrence's police station is seriously outdated and the police force is understaffed. I am a firm believer that if you do something, do it right the first time so you do not have to come back to it year after year for fixes. With this being said, even if it costs more up front, build the station that will be around for the next 20 to 30 years. $30 million today is better than $24 million with $1 million dollar fixes every other year for the next 20 to 30 years.

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anotherview 1 year, 9 months ago

Lawrence already has one of the highest combined sales tax rate of any city in Kansas. If they increase the sales tax another 0.35 per cent, that will put it over 9.00 per cent. At some point, shoppers will decide to shop elsewhere.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 9 months ago

Is the. Peter Principle at work in Lawrence?

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Graczyk 1 year, 9 months ago

I haven't reviewed the police HQ (thankfully) so I can' comment on that. But I wonder if Lawrence really needs 46 additional officers.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 9 months ago

Make Larryville a 'Sanctuary city' for all of Flex's Trespassers he has 'legalized'. I am told by the Complex, Immigrants from Mexico are 'wise' and 'hard working'.

With this plan, Larryville could build and swell to be at least as nice as Tijuana.

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steveguy 1 year, 9 months ago

Have you noticed that once the city starts a new sales tax increase, which we are told, will end in a few years it never ends.

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sierraclub 1 year, 9 months ago

It costs us taxpayers about $3,000,000 per year for the T and Shelter. I will allow them to build the larger police station, just cut out the T and the Shelter.

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werekoala 1 year, 9 months ago

I think we should have another sales tax vote to scale back the library and other "nice-to-have" projects in favor of funding core services (public safety, roads, water, etc).

There is no guarantee this economy is not the "new normal" and so Lawrence needs to face up to the challenges that are facing a ~100K city, and not just keep coasting because nothing too bad has happened recently.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 9 months ago

How about this: Defund the homeless shelter and let those folks move away. Along with it defund other places that cater to less than desirables, or ones who can't or choose not to pay their own way.

Cut spending.

With out vagrents we don't need more police.

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