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Rec center vote

The issue with this proposal is not about need or opportunity, it is about who should bear the ongoing cost of maintenance. The current proposal puts the City of Lawrence at risk of sinking more and more annual funding into supporting the operation of the complex. The other participates have a fixed obligation over time.

Use of recreation sales tax is definitely appropriate since it was the original intent of the funding. But, I believe it will take more funding from other sources to sustain the operation that the City is agreeing to operate. If the projections related to increamental fees generated from events fall short and/or the operating costs are higher than anticipated, the taxpayers of Lawrence will be on the hook.

I do not hear any of our leaders discussing how this future funding will be secured. The options are a) take it from somewhere else or b) raise the mill levy. Frankly, I am not thrilled with either option.

This is about counting the cost, being transparent and making a decision that citizens understand. I do not see these steps being taken for the benefit of the people who will ultimately pay for the facility.

August 9, 2012 at 9:25 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Saga continues

"The city continues basically to stand mute. Now, instead of relying on “personnel issues,” the decision not to release substantive information in the case is attributed to “pending litigation.” That stance might be tolerable in some situations, but this involves the city’s police department, and Lawrence residents need to have confidence in the officers on the street, the organization and its leadership, and the governing body behind it."

This paragraph is exactly the reason that the City has its hands tied regarding disclosure. Whether you are the police department, utilities, solid waste or the park/rec department the rules of disclosure regarding employee/employer relations is the same.

I agree with the sentiment that the LPD has not become transparent as discussed under Police Chief Khatib. It remains very closed, and this is not an acceptable position for a department that has so much power over citizens. With delegated power comes responsibility. I hope that this incident will prod our leaders into creating a meaningful process of review regarding police department activites that will provide more understanding for citizens.

August 3, 2012 at 7:22 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Doubling up

Washburn received funding from the State of Kansas, but not at the level of the other public institutions in the state. It is governed by a separate board, but the appointments are made by city and state officials.

The problem with merging schools is endowment. Private dollars funding higher education contribute to their alma mater, not a generic law school for the state. The Board of Regents made several runs at combining law schools, engineering schools and other disciplines. The same obstacle exists > How much private funding is compromised as a result?

It makes perfect sense to have one law school, but since when does academia look at things from a tax efficient standpoint? They build separate ivory towers.

July 24, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extended service

If the overnight service can be funded with the budget alloted by the sales tax referendum passed several years ago, I have no issues with expanding the service. However, I have concern that the result of the "experiment" will be a request by transit to fund additional service outside of what the taxpayers voted for in the first place.

Overnight service may need to come at the expense of a reduction in fixed route service during daytime or evening hours. Use the resources that have been provided to serve the greatest amount of people.

July 9, 2012 at 7:35 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Slow down

The athletic facilities upgrade was a decision by the school board. The City Commission is tasked with the rec center and the other large expenditures. I think the rec center decision should be about the responsibility of the City to be the ultimate risk-taker in the venture. I do not think it makes sense for the taxpayers to take the ultimate risk on the deal if private development is involved. It should be the other way around. However, I do think that adding facilities on the west side is not being unfair. The indoor aquatic center is the only public facility that has been added West of Lawrence Avenue since the early 1980s.

As far as the police facilities, I do not accept the alternatives presented which is $0 or $30 million. It is unreasonable to assume that less costly alternatives would not improve their situation dramatically.

July 9, 2012 at 7:29 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City, school district considering lights for Free State High School's tennis courts

I believe the City was committed to $100,000 for the lighting at LHS. Why should they be asked to fund another $250,000 for a very small group of citizens who use the lighted courts?

June 7, 2012 at 6:52 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Plaintiff school districts, state battle in school finance hearing

It is unfair to attack the credibility of the judges. They did not create this issue. The fact is that we now have a state government that appears unable to carry out their duties to manage the budget or manage redistricting. It is unfortunate that some of the most crucial issues that effect Kansans are left to the courts when it clearly the responsibilty of the legislature.

June 5, 2012 at 7:13 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Wisconsin recall serves little purpose

Let's face it, money is coming into the state supporting both sides in unprecedented amounts. This recall election has become an important milestone for both presidential campaigns to measure the mood of the country.

Ironically, Mr. Barrett is running against the reforms that he himself effectively put into place in Milwaukee as Mayor. Milwaukee faced the same deficit issues that the state faced prior to the current administration, and Mr. Barrett put forth the same requirement for municipal employees to contribute to their health care and pension costs.

I think this recall election illustrates why most elected officials focus on tax policy versus spending policy. It is too hard to unwind decades of entitlements in public sector jobs. It is easier to put through tax cuts and try to force the issue which is the wrong way to go about it.

The fact is that Wisconsin is now fiscally sound, and it was not before his election. If Democrats in the state have an alternative that can continue to fund health care and pensions at 100% for employees and balance the budget, let's see the plan.

June 4, 2012 at 7:59 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Water plant moving forward

This situation was created by years of ignorance about wholesale water rates and the market. The City did not look at its competitive position with pricing and simply passed through increasing costs to surrounding districts. Now the City will need to figure out how to operate this utility with less volume in the future.

June 1, 2012 at 8:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City, county mull upgrade to emergency radio system

Investment is required, but there is always the trump card that lives are on the line. When this is put out to the public, it means do not question the cost, just do it. What is frustrating about this situation as well as the facilities needs for the department is a lack of options.

The alternatives, or lack thereor, are always about short changing the department and threatening that any other option will not provide protection for public safety personnel. Ironically, the City has failed to invest in automation for the solid waste department for decades in a vocation that has one of the higher injury rates for any occupation. There is no discussion of those facts.

Let's see the options. Good, better, best. Understand the consequences of those decisions and make an informed choice.

May 29, 2012 at 7:08 a.m. ( | suggest removal )