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Do you think the city should raise the sales tax by 1 cent?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on July 27, 2006

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Photo of Max Chartrand

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind something as small as that. It wouldn’t bother me.”

Photo of Melanie Brown

“Sure. They obviously can’t do enough with the roads with what they have. I’d be glad to pay it if it means less potholes.”

Photo of Abdul Alshathri

“I don’t think they need to. It’s already high enough. It’s a small town. It’s doesn’t need to be that much.”

Photo of Kelly Jones

“I think that’s fine. If it’s benefiting Lawrence, it’s OK with me.”

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jonas 11 years, 4 months ago

Better than raising property taxes again, but as audvisartist says, why don't we as a city control our reckless spending before we raise taxes at all. We don't need all these roundabouts, or a giant mega-library, or parks every quarter frick'n mile.

neopolss 11 years, 4 months ago

Fiscal Responsibility.

STOP rewarding irresponsible spending by giving your government more money!

Do YOU live on a fixed budget? Do you get to change your salary everytime you decide there's a few new projects you want to do? Why should the city have that option?

"It wouldn't bother me."

Because you are not thinking. Problem #1 in our country today.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 4 months ago

Sure. But as artist said, NO MORE ROUNDABOUTS!!! The big deal, Macon, is that they are expensive and not completely necessary - not as much as being able to flush your non-essential parts of what you eat/drink away from your yard, or not having to have your vehicle realigned from the potholes.

Fiscal responsibility? Oh yeah.

Maybe we should make our own wax figures of Brad, Angelina, and Shiloh and charge to see them, then use that for infrastructure stuff. Or, who/what else would you recommend as a big draw?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

Just make every street in the city a toll street. Either they'll make a lot of money or nobody will drive in the city, making street maintenance less important.

Two things here: first, that is a silly headline. "Sales tax proposal met with approval, opposition." You could exchange almost anything for "sales tax proposal" and it would still be correct. It would be like saying "KU's basketball record includes wins, losses," or "U.S. population includes right-, left-handers." It's true, but why even bother saying it?

Second, what on earth does that picture (in the article) of the woman shopping with her child have to do at all with the article?

trinity 11 years, 4 months ago

clowns, gootsie. lawrence needs more clowns.


audvisartist 11 years, 4 months ago

In a previous post, macon47 said, "Is the balance of our citizenry too dumb, doped up, Or drunk to figure out how to use them?"

Sure seems that way sometimes... and you forgot "too busy talking on their cell phones!" That's why I hate those roundabouts! Everyone thinks it's their turn all at once!

Fangorn 11 years, 4 months ago

Not just no, but HELL NO! The tax was raised from 6.9% to 7.3% just a few years ago. What have we gotten for it? None of us gets to raise our pay anytime we feel a need for a bigger budget. Allowing the city to do so is exactly as Neopolss says: rewarding irresponsible spending. Anyone who is gung-ho for all the things on which the city would spend our additional tax dollars is perfectly free - right now - to write that gift check to treasurer.

Trinity: I think our city kommission has enough clowns for Lawrence already! ;)

SayWhat 11 years, 4 months ago

Even though roundabouts are heralded throughout European cities and scientifically proven to reduce the severity of accidents at intersections, they didn't start off that way. Turns out it usually took an average of a couple of decades after installation before they were embraced, mostly due to the amount of time it took for all the old, complaining curmudgeons to die off.

cutny 11 years, 4 months ago

It seems that going to the well too many times may start to have adverse effects. It's like they sit around and wonder what they can raise this year. Property taxes, sales tax. There comes a point when you have to learn to work with what you've got. However, this administration certainly wouldn't be the first to not understand that. It's just too easy to stick it to the populace when the money's running out. Surely there is some fat to be trimmed somewhere before raising the sales tax. How about a tax on all the lame roundabout jokes?

RustyShackleford 11 years, 4 months ago

I've got a much better idea. How about funding through behavior?

If a person who earns $300,000 a year gets a ticket, it is 10 times the cost of the ticket received by one who makes $30,000. This could work for parking tickets, public nuisance, &c. You could expand citywide, and as a side benefit the likelihood of some prig in a BMW running the right-of-way at a four way stop would reduce. Larry PD would be looking for those BMW's.

O, and since the old subject has come up again: a town's library is representative of its public mind. Great towns have great ones. Good towns have good ones. We should at least aspire to good. I know you "libertarian" conservatives aren't too hip on reading, but I'm sure the building wouldn't block out 980's signal.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

"What are they going to do when the penny is phased out...."

Oh, that's good. Very good.

Though I could see them still touting a 1-cent tax increase and blaming the extra 4 cents on the businesses.

theDudeAbides 11 years, 4 months ago

Why does a town with next to zero professional jobs aspire to have the highest price of housing/taxes/cost of living? This is just another attempt to make up for money that is already spent. Property taxes are high, but so are the prices of the property, kinda goes with the territory if you ask me.

On the roundabout issue: The navigation of them is not what's difficult, it' understanding why we would need to spend hundreds of thousands dollars on them. Has anyone seen the one by clinton lake. No one can tell me that was a good investment. It's an eyesore at best.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

Fangorn - is that 7.3% your sales tax? On sofas, cars, shirts, dresses etc.? Holy cow and I thought this semi-socialist country of Canada had a heavy tax bill. Can someone tell me about your tax system. I am presuming you all pay income tax, as we do and that is federal, right? Then I suppose you have state tax? We have provincial. Then there is civic property tax. Now then, this city sales tax is what I don't understand. We have had a federal 7% sales tax for many years, soon to be reduced to 5% by our new gov. But our cities do not collect sales tax, only property tax. But, perhaps, our prop. tax may be higher than yours. We have a simple 3 bdrm house and I just asked hubby and he said we pay $2200/yr My puny little cottage with no services except snow clearance and lights on gravel streets costs me $746 which is ridiculous. Do you all pay for garbage pick-up or is that part of your property tax? Do you pay any federal sales tax? Just curious.

Dixie Jones 11 years, 4 months ago

yeah max dont care mommy and daddy are payin his way and are they wanting the increse to install rubber sidewalks so the homeless can sleep more comfortable??

beatrice 11 years, 4 months ago

If Democrats are tax and spenders, than Republicans are cut-tax and spend anyway-ers. The feds might be able to live with massive deficits, but cities simply can't. States, then cities, are getting less from the feds due to the federal cuts, and cities can't just eliminate services.

From a distance, it looks like a raise in taxes in Lawrence is coming, one way or another. If it comes down to a property tax, or an increase in sales tax, which would you prefer? An increase in sales tax is more difficult on the poor, but it is more evenly dispersed than just taxing homeowners.

Now, on a brighter note -- I think we may have found a girlfriend for our Ezekiel Rubottom (you know, the boy with his foot in a bucket)

Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

The car dealerships seem to support this plan.

A grocery exemption would be VERY HELPFUL.

This sales tax might be so regressive considering the city is willing to cut back 5 mils on a property tax. It seems it would be easier to pay this out in small increments than to add more to a property tax in which lower income folks are forced to pay out in two large chunks.

High rollin/over inflated property taxes are hell on business and low income home owning families.

All we need now are a few new high salaried industries locating to Lawrence that pay for themselves not only through wages but ultimately in property taxes.

Too many new houses and not enough industry = inflated property taxes and not enough money to care for aging infrastructure. All a result of not good planning since 1987.

If anyone among the powers that be thinks Lawrence has not yet become a bedroom community....

optimist 11 years, 4 months ago

In practice it could be bad. I once lived in a town in the northeast that did this very same thing. The result was two of the largest retailers in the city moved their stores just across the city line into the town/county in order to remain competative with stores in neighboring cities.

The second hit came from the fact that many people who lived in the city worked in neighboring cities. Much like Lawrence has Topeka and Overland Park. The neighboring cities sales taxes were lower and as a result people would make purchases, especially large purchases in those cities while they were there working anyway.

Now this tax increase was in lieu of a tax increase on property. There wasn't actually a proposed decrease on property tax as this plan offers. None-the-less within a couple of years property taxes were raised anyway and over the last several years residents in this city have experienced record increases in their property taxes.

I know those who proposed this mean well but I caution them. The cost of rental property will not be affected by this property tax savings. Property owners will simply retain their savings. I'm not opposed to property owners making money and I would encourage them to keep any savings they get if the market will bare it. I only point out that I believe the market will and therefore I don't see an upside for anyone.

jayhawks71 11 years, 4 months ago

Sales taxes target the poor because they are being 1) taxed on necessities (one can live without a speed boat, one cannot live without food) and 2) the taxes are a larger percentage of that person earns (or better yet, gets from the government... which in turn leads people to say that we need minimum wages to be increased.... because people can't live on what they earn.... well if the government would stop taxing every touch of money, perhaps they could!).

Government targets everyone and does very little for what they take. It is time to march on city hall and overthrow the city commission, or better yet, stand outside the barber shop and protest.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

You pay sales tax on food? Horrors!! We pay no tax on food or children's clothing. Mind you, if you buy a pack of six muffins, no tax, but one muffin, tax. Weird, eh? We have a federal GST goods and services tax. Cars, boats, shovels etc. 7% Services such as car repair, and lawn care and dental work are subject to the service tax of 7%

Kathleen Christian 11 years, 4 months ago

I wouldn't mind IF (this is a BIG IF) that extra money is spent on school funding. Parents should NOT have to pay extra for children's books, some school materials and busing. Doesn't that money come out of the taxes we already pay - even those who don't have school age children. Where is all that money going? Why are our children always last to use the increased taxes? Governments need to learn how to better spend our tax dollars inside of raising them everytime they run of money because they've spent it on ridulous things the may never use. I can't understand how there is no money for road upkeep - heck they hardly pay those workers a decent living wage. But I bet the guys who sit in the offices who make the decisions have money to burn for great vacations, new cars and nice houses. If they can't use the .1 tax increase on schools than NO I don't agree to the increase.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

I'm in this adorable little (60,000 people...half of which are students) college town of Davis, CA right now and was astounded that they pay NO tax on any food or beverages. They also have NO parking meters. Their roads are in tip top shape. I've no idea how they generate their revenue...high property taxes, maybe? I do know that hotel tax is 14%. I kind of like the idea of sticking it to the visitors (although right now, that means me.)

Ms_C, our towns/counties/states do not all operate in the same manner. Location, location, location. We don't even understand it ourselves!

NO to the sales tax.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

IMHO - food should NEVER be taxed, NEVER. It's not right. In restaurants, yes. We pay 7% in restaurants.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 4 months ago

Maybe if they did away with that ridiculous requirement that new buildings (I forget if they are just city bldgs or not) are required to spend 20% of their building budget on art. For example, the new fire station at 19th & Stewart spent $80,000 of OUR money on ART!! It's a fire station, not an art gallery! The same goes for those ridiculous "art" sculptures they have around the downtown area. Why not take the money from that and build child-safe fountains and fixtures so they can actually play on something without it being deemed "hazardous".

Fangorn 11 years, 4 months ago

RustyShackleford: As a "libertarian" conservative, I think your remark regarding our reading habits is small-minded. I read nearly 11,000 pages last year (that's just books, not any type of periodical or web page) on a wide range of topics. Do you think you came close to that? It's possible but unlikely.

Beatrice: "Republicans are cut-tax and spend anyway-ers." I don't think I could agree with you more. The excitement I felt in 1994 at the possibility of some fiscal responsibility after 40+ years of Democratic rule in the House is surpassed only by my disappointment at the GOP's wholesale adoption of pork-barreling and ear-marking.

Merrill: My home state of Nebraska doesn't charge sales tax on food. Of course they've got a lot of other taxes to make up for it.

Ms_Canada: Our sales tax is 5.3% state, 1% county, 1% city. Our property tax rates, which are on the high side, are exacerbated by the rapid increase in property valuation. We also have a graduated federal income tax as well as a state income tax, although not all states (Wyoming, for instance) have a state income tax. Regarding your one muffin = tax, six muffins = no tax, I think it's the distinction between groceries and fast food. Nebraska charges sales tax on any type of fast food but not groceries. If I recall correctly, their line is between pre-cooked food and food products (meant to be taken home and prepared).

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 4 months ago

O-Bob: You are correct. It's actually closer to 8% I've been told by someone "in the know".

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

Thanks fangorn for the explanation. I had stated our tax system rather simplistically. Of the 7% GST I am sure some is tossed to the provinces and some provinces do charge a sales tax. B.C. for instance tacks another 8% on to the GST. So people in eastern B.C. just slip over the border to Alberta to shop for major items such as furniture and appliances. And you are right on the muffin bit, that is the reason.

Now then Kearney - there is nothing surer than death and taxes as the old saying goes. Counties don't run on straw. Where the taxes are collected is the key. Everyone needs to buy food, that is a given. And parents need to buy their children clothes. The rest goes by the availability of the taxpayer to pay.
Grand car, more tax. Armani suits, more tax. You get the idea. We have never paid taxes on food in this country. I guess it is just natural to me.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 4 months ago

To the best of my knowledge, Michigan does not tax on grocery store food, either. The state sales tax is 6%.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

The issue of taxation is a contentious one and maybe should fall into the same category as politics and religion and not be discussed in polite company. But then, when are we posters exactly polite. Since they are inevitable, the question arises as to just what degree one wants the state to provide for the things of life. We goofy humans would really like to have life all laid out for us nice and neat from the cradle to the grave, but just so we don't have to pay through the nose. The key to feeling good about paying taxes, it seems to me, is how much do we trust those who govern to spend that money wisely and justly. Are we getting what we pay for. They bear watching and watching closely. We have here several Think Tanks as we call these watch dogs. They let us know when something is rotten in governance. The ordinary citzen does need to read the papers and pay attention to what is going on to keep the gov. on track.

ms_canada 11 years, 4 months ago

RI - RCMP, well now, the last parade a couple of weeks ago I believe I did see some diapers on the caballos. the city collects $15/yr. for the pelt of my old neutered cat. They also ding me $12/yr for the 60+ books that I pick up each year. Nasty b#@@ers. restrictions - oh yeh, Lord help me if I play my stereo loud after 11pm or take my poochy for a walk without my little scooper bag. Or don't clear the snow and ice from my front walk, city walk, that is. Other than that, i do enjoy relative freedom in my fair city. Edmonton has been called the green city of Canada. we have more parks and trees than any other city. And of course we have to pay for them. As the old saying went, "Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice."

beatrice 11 years, 4 months ago

Curious, I wonder how much this "new bird" charges for her escort services?

FMcB: The "percent for art" project, as it is in many cities around the country, is just that -- a percent. It is not 6%, just 1%. Check this site:

Now, quit whinning about how art is ruining your life! We need more art in our lives, not less!

BigAl 11 years, 4 months ago

If memory serves, the "traffic-calming devices" or "roundabouts" on Harvard cost us over $450,000. Someone please convince me that that wasn't a waste of money. Stop signs would have been much more fiscally sound.

BigAl 11 years, 4 months ago

I'm pretty sure that these "round-a-bouts" were built by out-of-town contractors. The signs I saw were on trucks out of Salina.

Fangorn 11 years, 4 months ago

"paving art"! ROFLMAO! Does that come out of the 1%?

Beatrice, thanks for verifying the percentage. I had wondered about that. Twenty percent seemed unreasonable...even for Lawrence. Of course, I dislike any government telling a business that they have to spend thus-and-such an amount (or percentage) on anything. It is one thing to mandate, say, handrails in stairways or a fire suppression system or handicap accessibility, but art? Who gets to define what "art" is? Does topiary count? How about nice wallpaper, or just something from Deck the Walls? Does the art have to be visible to the public? Or can it be in the lobby area? I ask these questions facetiously, but only somewhat so. I don't really know anything about the 1% requirement. What can you tell me, Bea?

Fangorn 11 years, 4 months ago

Please disregard most of my last post. Beatrice, I took the time to read the link you provided. This requirement seems to be for government buildings, not privately owned enterprises. The main thrust of my complaint is without foundation. I will try to be more careful in future.

A thought did come up while I was reading the site you provided, however. Oddly, although I've seen this sculpture countless times this hasn't occurred to me before. Since the totem is primarily a religious/spiritual object, will the ACLU sue Lawrence to have ours removed?

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

RI, in sueville, where I am the supreme dictator, I do NOT tax. I send out Robinhood style bandits to "collect" from the wealthy. Also, I spend quite a bit of my budget on books and art. About once a year, I might require a bottle of nail polish for the toes. That will have to come out of the budget.

Also, I'm in dire need of a dead-eye to control light pollution. This job doesn't pay much, but is very satisfying.

hockmano 11 years, 4 months ago

They will probably take the 1 cent sales tax and hire a consultant for $50,000 to decide if they should raise the sales tax again next year!!!!!

sunflower_sue 11 years, 4 months ago

p.s. I return to sueville tomorrow. My crew better have things in tip top shape upon my arrival. Where are those palm frond wavers?

Kissing rings? eeeewww! germs! eeeewww!

beatrice 11 years, 4 months ago

Fangorn -- The ACLU taking a stand against public totems -- LOL!

I'll admit that much public art is largely forgettable, mainly because instead of relying on art professionals, decisions end up being made by committee. Everybody gets their say, from business owners to the neighborhood committee -- with few people who know anything about art having a say. Low and behold you end up with bland, make-the-masses-happy-without-hurting-anyone's-delicate-sensibilities boring hunks of abstraction. Or painted Jayhawks (a shiver just went down my spine thinking about those monstrosities - they were to art what People magazine is to literature). It is great when public art can rise above this.

While all may not be great, much public art is quiet good. We must continue to try to impress through beauty - for today and the future. And people do come out to see the works, often visiting from afar, especially when there is a proven track record of strong art programming. In other words, it is good for the economy, not just a drain on public funds.

Finally, just remember, Michelango created his David as public art for the city of Florence. Aren't you glad that there weren't a bunch of people screaming that the money should go to road repair instead?

LiberalDude 11 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Pywacket and disagree with Jayhawks71 and Kearney about the affect of different taxes on the poor. Sales tax hurts the poor far less than property tax. A large percentage of sales tax revanue comes from the high end luxury items. Therefore a sales tax increase hurts the wealthy much more than the poor. Property taxes hurt everyone because everyone has to live somewhere. Not everyone needs a new 84" flat screen TV, however.

Marion- Which website is yours so I know which one to avoid? I'm happy and surprised that you watch South Park. Don't all those cuss words hurt your virgin, conservative ears though?


Horatio Bfor 11 years, 4 months ago

Lets make roundabouts a religious symbol. Then they will stop making them

John Reeves 11 years, 4 months ago

Fatty Mcbutter, et al. 2% of public building budgets are set aside for purchasing permanant public art, examples of which can be viewed here: A portion of the 2% is witheld for conservation, maintenance, etc. Another portion is reserved for manangement expenses of the art selection process (printing, postage, honoraria, etc). The selection committees are comprised of several people from diverse backgrounds, including member(s) of the Lawrence Arts Commission. What exactly the artwork "is" is determined by the respondants to the Requests for Qualifications and Requests for Proposals. When reviewing the Station 5 submissions, we had to review over 60 artist's qualifications and portfolios. Six artists were paid honoraria to present their proposals to the committee.

Arts Commission appointments are made by the Mayor. Vacancies for city committees and boards are published online at the end of the City Commission agendas.

I think honoraria is the plural of honorarium

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