Archive for Friday, December 30, 2016

Editorial: Extending STAR bonds

These important incentive tools for economic development should be allowed to continue.

December 30, 2016


Used properly, STAR bonds can prove beneficial to the state, and legislators should work to extend the bonds’ use beyond the current sunset date of June 30.

The STAR bonds program is an economic development incentive tool used to fund major development projects that serve as statewide attractions. The bonds create a special taxing district allowing projects to keep significant portions of state and local sales taxes generated at the development.

STAR bonds have been used to finance the Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County, the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Heartland Park in Topeka, and the Prairie Fire shopping district and museum in Overland Park, among others. There are no STAR Bond projects in Douglas County, but the bonds have been touted as a way to help fund a $70 million outdoor recreational development at Clinton Lake State Park.

STAR bonds would allow the city of Lawrence to collect 49 percent of the city, county and state sales tax generated at the Clinton Lake outdoor center to retire bonds issued for the development. While STAR bonds are similar to tax increment finance districts, they are more powerful because they allow not only for local sales taxes to be collected but also state sales tax dollars.

Gov. Sam Brownback is supportive of the Clinton Lake project and has suggested STAR bonds for the Clinton Lake project, which, it’s important to note, is merely in the discussion stages.

But if STAR bonds are critical to the Clinton Lake development, the project may never get beyond the discussion phase. That’s because there are real questions about whether STAR bonds will be continued beyond June 30.

The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to conduct hearings this session on whether STAR bond authority should be used for new projects. Committee Chair Julia Lynn, a Republican state senator from Olathe, didn’t sound overly optimistic.

“We need to decide if the state should be in the STAR bonds business at all,” Lynn said earlier this week. “It’s too early to predict what will happen. I think the whole program needs a lot of work and attention.”

Lynn said the STAR bonds legislation needs to be thoroughly vetted. Specifically, the state needs a more transparent reporting process so that legislators can track the amount of sales tax the state will receive and what is being diverted for STAR bonds debt retirement, Lynn said.

Thorough vetting of the program and greater transparency should be welcome changes for the STAR bonds program. But assuming those can be accomplished to the Legislature’s satisfaction, the STAR bonds should continue. It’s an important development incentive that can be used to encourage projects that bring more visitors to Kansas.


Paul Jones 1 year, 2 months ago

Why does the JW continue to talk about this project and ignore all the points brought up right here on the comment section why it would be such a mistake? Does that Joel guy really think the JW isn't taking a slanted view of this project since none of the issues have been addressed?

David Holroyd 1 year, 2 months ago

This editorial states that Lawrence will collect 49 percent of the sales tax for city, county and state and that money as it reads would be generated to retire the bonds. Now how does that help Lawrence if the money is collected and and it is 49 percent and it goes to pay off STAR bonds.

This editorial is lacking facts . Please elaborate!

And who wants STAR bonds to be able to kayak when the weather is 28 degrees.?

What happened to developing a project that is compatible with the outdoors , with the history of Kansas? What happened to horseback riding? Are the PETA people against that?

This half baked idea for Clinton is exactly that!

btw, heard at the swap meet that the Journal World family was interested in STAR bonds to redevelop some downtown property and north Lawrence as well. those swap meet conversations are better than a "conversation" over an egg mcmuffin. Speaking of "conversations" Mr. Farmer's infamous word, where is he?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

The $70 million outdoor recreational development at Clinton Lake State Park is a scam run by developers to shake down taxpayers.

Taxpayers have consistently spoke out against such development. This thing about making Lawrence a tourist town is nonsense and represents careless use of tax dollars. What a scam.

Joe Blackford II 1 year, 2 months ago

As a resident of Kansas, I'm adamantly opposed to this "not a waterpark." KS is 50th in per capita public lands. Any acreage removed from public access (w/o a $59/day "not a waterpark" pass, as at Plei's other location) further decreases per capita public lands, many of which do not require paid admission. This is a "quality of life" issue for companies considering a state as a business location.

Here's an example of how taxpayers were permitted to give approval for a "not a waterpark" in OKC. Notice that an inept state agency wasn't involved in the project.

Oklahoma City/Population 610,613 (2013)

Kansas City/Population 467,007 (2013)


how many times OKC's "not a waterpark" is described as "in the world" (Plei & KDWP&T don't make any such grandiose statements for the "not a waterpark."

you can see OKC's downtown skyline from the "not a waterpark" (Plei's depictions don't bother to show anything visible from the "not a waterpark." Certainly, you can't see Lawrence's skyline.)

OKC's "not a waterpark" is described as family-oriented (KDWP&T's ploy is that this is strictly for the adventurous.)

David Holroyd 1 year, 2 months ago

HERE, rather here at the end of the year, still waiting for information about the use of STAR bonds in the city of Lawrence. The swap meet talk isn't wrong usually and what about the infamous mayor of 'conversations".

Swap meet "conversations" have given up on that , well, maybe not.

Douglas County is notorious for scams. Culture Farms, Mustard Heir, the guy who wanted to give away money and set up office at a bank downtown, then of course Just Food to feed the how many starving folks in the city? And only 120 show up out 90,000 when the Harvester truck comes to town.

Duplicity in charities in Lawrence needs to be tightened in 2017.
Will the city commission hand over money to a potential grocery for it only to go out of business?

Get a small business loan and do it on your own dime. Now a story for the Journal World would be to investigate how many small business loans have been made in Douglas County including of course Lawrence from 2006 to 2016 and list them and reveal how many went broke and closed up shop. The public would be overwhelmed.

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