Archive for Monday, September 25, 2017

Letter to the editor: Renew sales tax

September 25, 2017

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To the editor:

You printed a recent editorial suggesting that this fall’s election was not the time to renew the sales tax. I know that the sales tax is regressive; however, it seems to me that this is the best time to use this vehicle to begin to regenerate an affordable housing trust fund. Your editorial also suggested that the issue needed to be studied more. In fact, affordable housing has been studied multiple times since 1993 with little to no lasting results.

However, in 2014 Justice Matters encouraged the city to unearth previous studies and the city discovered $100,000 that had been earmarked for housing but had not been used because city leaders thought another study was required. My thought is, why waste more money on another study when a cross collaboration among housing providers was able to leverage the leftover $100,000 to $400,000 with private donations, and three permanently affordable homes were built in 2014-2015 to provide three homes for formerly homeless children and families. Proof, it can be done!

In lieu of nonexistent help from the state and a tremendous strain on the city for other important projects, it seems to me that the sales tax should be renewed and put to work for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Those monies can leverage grants and meanwhile the city can re-examine ways to continue to provide affordable housing.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 months ago

I want the tax voted down then revised:

=== I respectfully request the sales tax be absolutely dedicated to the following :

0.05 percent sales tax for transit

0.3 percent sales tax for affordable housing

0.2 percent sales tax for Complete Streets/Walkable Community/Safe routes to school.

This eliminates helter skelter spending of any of the tax dollars thus we see accomplishments.

Call for a special vote. The end product would more than pay for the cost of a special vote. A worthwhile endeavor.

The community also might want to think about pushing a no sales tax on groceries or no more than 1%.

Patrick Wilbur 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Hi Carol - there are many concerns regarding question 3. The LJW editorial was simply echoing the concerns of many voters:

"You printed a recent editorial suggesting that this fall’s election was not the time to renew the sales tax."

Why do we have to do it this fall? The tax is actually not a renewal - it;s a "re-purpose". The new tax period would not even begin until April 2019. So why right now?

"I know that the sales tax is regressive; however, it seems to me that this is the best time to use this vehicle to begin to regenerate an affordable housing trust fund."

The sales tax is regressive. That means we are taxing the people who can least afford it in an attempt to help people transition into affordable housing. This is a sub-optimal strategy.

"Your editorial also suggested that the issue needed to be studied more. In fact, affordable housing has been studied multiple times since 1993 with little to no lasting results."

The study has already been requested.

"However, in 2014 Justice Matters encouraged the city to unearth previous studies and the city discovered $100,000 that had been earmarked for housing but had not been used because city leaders thought another study was required. My thought is, why waste more money on another study when a cross collaboration among housing providers was able to leverage the leftover $100,000 to $400,000 with private donations, and three permanently affordable homes were built in 2014-2015 to provide three homes for formerly homeless children and families. Proof, it can be done!"

So, if we leverage $1,000,000, we'll end up with maybe 30 more affordable housing units a year? Can Habitat for Humanity and Tenants to Homeowners even handle that much construction yearly? Is this a long-term solution to the affordable housing problem?

"In lieu of nonexistent help from the state and a tremendous strain on the city for other important projects, it seems to me that the sales tax should be renewed and put to work for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund."

Again, it's not a renewal. The sale tax to which you refer is scheduled to sunset in March 2019.

"Those monies can leverage grants and meanwhile the city can re-examine ways to continue to provide affordable housing."

Why can't the city at least review and discuss with the public the Affordable Housing Advisory Board's recommendation of alternative funding stream options that was presented to them in May of this year? (https://assets.lawrenceks.org/assets/agendas/cc/2017/05-02-17/cmo_ahab_Smart_goal_5_funding_sources_memo.html)

Again, WHY NOW?

Melinda Henderson 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Why won't Justice Matters take on the real problem here? We have a severe shortage of jobs that pay enough to afford to live here?

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