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Letters to the Editor

Letter: ED change due

March 12, 2014

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To the editor:

With the change in leadership of the Chamber of Commerce, Lawrence has an opportunity to rethink how it handles economic development.

Now the city and county taxpayers give over $450,000 per year to the chamber for economic development purposes, not including the incubators or the Bioscience Authority.

The record of the chamber is a history of failures.

The chamber led the city into many tax abatements that failed to generate the promised jobs, wages and investments. The chamber repeatedly supported the overbuilding of retail space, hurting the downtown and other existing retail centers, and it even supported tax breaks for retail space, the antithesis of economic development. The chamber initiated meetings with the City Commission that later were found to be in violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act, causing our city commissioners to be censured by the attorney general. The chamber has been caught making false statements and misrepresentations before the Public Incentives Review Committee. The chamber has never been transparent about its use of the taxpayer funds.

Smart cities across the nation have brought economic development planning inside city hall through the hiring of skilled professionals educated in economic development. Staff members at the chamber are not educated in economic development and are not accountable to the City Commission. Rather, they are advocates for business interests at the taxpayers’ expense.

The city of Lawrence should use the change in leadership of the chamber to put economic development into the hands of professionals who are accountable to the public.

Comments

Bart Johnson 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"they are advocates for business interests at the taxpayers’ expense."

Of course they are. Don't be naive and think that it can be any different. The only real solution is to get rid of it and let the free market work.

Phil Minkin 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Look and see how much Chamber money goes in to city and county commission campaigns. It makes one doubtful that things will change. We need to elect non-chamber candidates.

Richard Heckler 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Non-chamber candidates would likely would be the low spenders which would indicate that's who voters should put in office. Local business people as commissioners has proved to be a disaster regarding tax dollar management and reckless spending.

Richard Heckler 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"Rather, they are advocates for business interests at the taxpayers’ expense." The understatement. Can we say home to the Free Lunch aka local corporate welfare that never pays back.

There are a variety of ways local government increases taxes and/or fees without saying. Such as issuing bonds of sorts....

Definition of 'General Obligation Bond - GO' A municipal bond backed by the credit and "taxing power" of the issuing jurisdiction rather than the revenue from a given project.

Investopedia explains 'General Obligation Bond - GO'

General obligation bonds are issued with the belief that a municipality will be able to repay its debt obligation through taxation or revenue from projects. No assets are used as collateral. http://bonds.about.com/od/munibonds/a/

The-Difference-Between-General-Obligation-And-Revenue-Bonds.htm http://news.morningstar.com/classroom2/course.asp?docid=5384&page=2

Richard Heckler 10 months, 3 weeks ago

How do we subsidize local profiteers?

--- Vote them and/or their blind supporters into office

--- pick up the cost of more criminal activity as Lawrence grows.

--- building new and wider roads such as the SLT.

--- building schools on the fringe.

--- extending sewer and water lines to not necessary development.

--- extending emergency services to the fringe.

--- direct pay-outs to developers --- For example in Lawrence downtown two more 9th and New Hampshire structures looking at more and quite healthy multi-million tax $$$$ “donations if you will” aka Free Lunch

--- http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp

--- "Free Lunch: How Local Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Taxpayer Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)." http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript.html http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Richard Heckler 10 months, 3 weeks ago

How is economic displacement healthy for the Lawrence economy and more importantly local taxpayers?

It's not. But this is what over building markets produces. We must ask each time a rate fees increased no matter what it is we should be asking why?

It is likely because small town Lawrence has a huge KCMO/JOCO Metro appetite for local corporate welfare that rarely if ever pays back … yes the Free Lunch.

Lawrence has had some major retail failures as if in perpetual motion. Adding one more grocery store to the west side is another disaster in the making.

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