Lawrence City Commission to consider sales tax break for Boys and Girls Club teen center

Renderings of the new Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence teen center

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider a request from the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence to waive sales tax on construction materials for the club’s new teen center.

The commission will decide whether to issue the club up to $5 million in industrial revenue bonds, a type of special financing that would allow the teen center project to buy construction materials without paying sales tax.

The total value of the sales tax exemption is estimated to be $181,000, according to a city staff memo. Of that amount, the city would forgo about $42,000 in sales tax revenue and Douglas County about $7,000. The state would forgo about $130,000.

The club is a nonprofit organization that provides before- and after-school activities for school children. The club’s current teen center has limited space, and the club has a waiting list of middle- and high-school families it is unable to serve, according to its incentives application. The club’s new teen center, the Center for Great Futures, will enable the club to serve five times as many middle- and high-school students.

The club’s request is for stand-alone industrial revenue bonds, meaning that the club is not applying for other economic incentives, such as property tax abatements. The Public Incentives Review Committee reviewed the request earlier this month and voted unanimously to recommend it for approval.

A review from the city’s economic development coordinator notes the teen center project meets the economic goals of the city and eligibility for industrial revenue bonds. The review notes that the project provides higher earning power for parents and future employees, lowers societal costs and provides more jobs. The teen center will create four full-time and four part-time jobs, according to the club’s application.

Construction of the teen center is expected to start at the end of 2017 and be finished in time for the 2018 academic year, according the memo.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.