Letter to the editor: Sidewalk tax

March 11, 2018


While the City Commission debates the “necessity” of fixing all the sidewalks in Lawrence, I want to thank them for discriminating against me and other homeowners. Their plans to charge (tax) me for an “amenity” I neither asked for, want and am not allowed to get rid of is little more than blatant discrimination against one segment of property owners. My cross street neighbors do not have to repair anything, go to the expense of keeping it clear of snow and ice, or constantly pick up after pet owners who neglect to clean up after their charges. As they have no sidewalk, they also are not hit with the additional insurance liability that comes with this unwanted gift.

The entire neighborhood, although using the walkway, are not being thought of as responsible for its upkeep. Only each individual property owner is, and then suffers at the whim of the city to determine what is in disrepair and what is not. I view such taxation as unjust and unfair, as it singles out one group to pay the freight for the rest of the community. If the city loves sidewalks so much, then it should pay for the maintenance and upkeep of them all. If you are going to penalize (tax) one, then tax all, or put in into the city budget (which we all know the city can’t afford).


Bonnie Uffman 2 months, 1 week ago

I agree that the lack of equity in this plan is mind-boggling.

RJ Johnson 2 months, 1 week ago

You are complaining about a state law that has been around since the 50 or 60's. Now all of a sudden it is a issue? It is the property owners reasonability to take care of the sidewalk. What is so hard about that?? Are you not a team player? Nobody made you buy a house with a sidewalk! Stop crying like a baby!!

Gene Douglas 2 months, 1 week ago

Buzz off RJ....it's obvious you are 'across the street' and laughing like the clown you are... These sidewalks haven't been touched for 50 or 60 years for the most part...can kicked down the road..and any crying adult with an average IQ sees the total lack of equity in this antiquated law..even the across the street sitting on their hands crowd for the most part...except crybaby clowns like you !

Aaron McGrogor 2 months, 1 week ago

"a state law that has been around since the 50 or 60's"

Seems to be your go to statement RJ. Where would we be if the founding fathers had just said "Well, we don't like what England's been doing, but they've been around for a long time. Idk why some people suddenly think it's an issue"?

Personally, "It has been a law for a long time" is not good enough for me as to why we should keep it.

Tony Peterson 2 months, 1 week ago

It's a law that was stupid to begin with. A public sidewalk sits on public land that doesn't even belong to the adjacent property owner. Replacing or repairing one also puts a higher financial burden on single-family homes occupied by the owner.

In my neighborhood all the lots are 50 feet wide and if I had to replace mine I'd have to pay for all of it. Next door is a house that's been converted into apartments and the property owners don't live there. Has the exact same 50 feet of sidewalk.

If that one had to be replaced the owners wouldn't have to pay for it, they'd just raise the rent for the four tenants.

Carol Bowen 2 months, 1 week ago

RJ, Not only are property owners in Kansas responsible for sidewalks, but the same law exists in most states. Older neighborhoods' taxes have paid for new growth roads and sidewalks many times over while their own sidewalks crumbled. Does the old law really make sense now?

I agree that property owners should be responsibe for their sidewalks, but I think there could be more sensible and fair ways to do this. Bottom line is somebody has to pay for the sidewalks. Sidewalks are not free. Personally, I think it should be a fraction of a mil on our property taxes.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 months, 1 week ago

So, RJ, can property owners charge you to walk on their sidewalks?

Aaron McGrogor 2 months, 1 week ago

"or constantly pick up after pet owners who neglect to clean up after their charges"

Just as a side note, that particular problem plagues everyone. I do not have a sidewalk, but my yard is still covered in other folk's dog s***.

Michael Kort 2 months, 1 week ago

25 million for Rock Chalk Park with no public vote !.......I bet that collects hundreds of potential snow shovelers who are eager to go shoveling all over town ?

Outer belt nature walkway fluff projects !.......do the expensive $ nature walkers shovel those ?

Calvin Anders 2 months, 1 week ago

RJ, your willful ignorance and tone deafness is amazing. The reason people are complaining now, is that the city has decided to use this stupid law to make up for their own lack of financial foresight. There are a lot of stupid, badly conceived laws on the books, and most are not a problem because they are not enforced. For many decades, this law was not enforced (except to quiet any homeowner who called to complain about the crumbling sidewalk in front of their own house). Now, the city leaders think they can stick it to a small subsection of the population and save the city some money. It's not a fair or reasonable law. And it's a dangerous road to go down. City leaders need to stop listening to our misguided city manager and be guided by what is right and fair. Some kind of tax should finance this effort.

Carol Bowen 2 months, 1 week ago

Calvin, The property owners responsibility for sidewalks is state law. Most states have the same law.

Bonnie Uffman 2 months, 1 week ago

Carol, yes it is state law in Kansas. However, there are cities in Kansas in which the cities take responsibility for sidewalks, so there clearly is some wiggle-room.

Carol Bowen 2 months, 1 week ago

I totally agree. See my previous post.

Bill Pasquel 2 months, 1 week ago

A "small" issue that may surprisingly be accepted/heard by the State of Kansas Supreme Court in todays definition of taxation and ownership, etc. It also opens up a can of worms on discriminatory/equity property issues. I think it would be heard by the State of Kansas Supreme Court. Push on.

John Middleton 2 months, 1 week ago

I'll just wait it out and let the city fix it and add it to my property tax bill. Then I'll deduct the entire cost along with my property taxes and let the govt pay a portion.

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