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robchestnut (Rob Chestnut)

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Governor seeks study of big changes to KPERS

This is an unfortunate turn of events. Progress was being made on reducing the unfunded liability early in Governor Brownback's first term, and now it appears that the administration is going down the same path that previous administrations travelled in kicking the can down the road for the next administration.

I also do not understand any benefit to making this a private venture. Actuarial numbers will be the same whether it is administered by a private or public entity. This action will set back the ability to put the fund into a much more solvent position.

December 20, 2014 at 6:17 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

The future of a new Lawrence police headquarters? Five questions

A sales tax or a property tax? The community seems pretty divided over which type of tax would be best to pay for a headquarters. In interviews with voters on Tuesday, some said they were voting for the sales tax in large part because they feared city officials would raise property taxes if the vote failed. But other voters said they would have been more likely to vote for the project if it were paid for through property taxes.

I think we are asking the wrong questions. Why any tax increase at all? There are several funds now in place funded by current revenue streams that are possibilities to finance necessary improvements to police facilities. This should be done sooner rather than later. It may not equal $28 million, but it could go a long ways toward addressing critical issues.

The question should be "What can we defer from upcoming capital expenditures to pay for these improvements?" This does not appear to be in the dialog, and I believe it should be our first consideration. For instance, there is still time left of the infrastructure sales tax passed back in 2010. Are all of the funds committed in the future? Use the resources now available to the City prior to asking for a new revenue stream.

All these questions should be fully vetted in the public forum. If the final conclusion is that a new source of revenue is required to provide these improvements, I believe it will be fully supported by the community.

Voters had a number of reasons for either supporting or rejecting this proposal. Now it is time to address the issue at hand, since I believe the vast majority of citizens know that something needs to be done about police facilities. I am hopeful we can focus as a community on this topic and move beyond what has proven to be a very divisive ballot initiative.

November 6, 2014 at 7:45 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Experience counts

I would really like to think that politicians learn from their mistakes as is put forth in this editorial. However, I have not seen any evidence that this is true. What I do see is much of the same. If incumbents are using their experience to correct their mistakes, they sure are not campaigning on this platform.

Secondly, why should we value experience with institutions that have failed so badly? I think voters should make decisions on what they can glean from the candidates on ideas, and forget experience. The inertia of the status quo in government will being enough to stop radical change in our institutions in one election cycle.

November 2, 2014 at 8:38 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kansas tax collections fall $23M short in October

“A 2.6 percent revenue variance for the fiscal year 2015 budget is certainly manageable through good fiscal governance,” Sullivan said. “Moving forward, the Kansas economy shows signs of growth, and we will continue to protect core services and invest in education while finding efficiencies in state government without cutting services.”

I think this statement is very misleading by Secretary Jordan. A consistent miss on revenue means that the situation will not be manageable. The forecasts provided by the administration relies on stronger growth in subsequent years to avoid cutting core services and education. Showing "signs of growth" is not enough to make their budget work. It requires strong growth that shows no evidence of happening in any reasonable time period.

November 1, 2014 at 8:56 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Q&A on Lawrence police headquarters, sales tax

A "NO" vote will not necessarily place the entire burden on property owners. It will refer the issue back to the City Commission to decide how to move forward. I believe it is unreasonable to assume that the commission would move forward with the same plan (and costs associated with that plan) after being voted down at the polls. It might open up a dialog about options that are less costly which could address many of the current facility issues.

October 27, 2014 at 10:21 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Retail climate

I am unsure what point Mr. Bolick is trying to make in this letter. Is he saying that we should not have any zoning requirements for retailers? In recent years the City Commission has made several decisions that denied applications for retail development. One was the Lowe's project proposed on a piece of ground that had been zoned for residential purposes for a number of years. The plan entertained a lumber yard that would have faced the front of Free State High School. This particular plan seemed to be a huge change in zoning that would have been unfair to property owners who relied on City planning to create certain expectations about future development adjacent to their property. I believe it was properly denied.

I agree with his comment that it appears that we will have retail growth over the next few years primarily driven by the SLT completion. This road will make regional access much better. Long-term planning has created an expectation that significant retail development will be a part of the new bypass, and I look forward to its development as anticipated in long-term plans.

October 20, 2014 at 7:48 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Kansas control

Outside money supporting both parties is being spent on campaigns across the country. Kansas has now become a focal point due to the possible outcomes in the Senate, and the tight race for Governor. However, in this age of technology voters can access more information about candidates and their positions than ever before. In the end, the ability to be informed and tune out all of the finger-pointing is at our disposal.

October 10, 2014 at 7:47 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: ‘No’ to sales tax

You are correct about sales tax. The increase applies to all purchases subject to sales tax including food, clothing and other essentials. The City does not have any flexibility or ability to exempt certain items.

October 3, 2014 at 9:10 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Spending restraint

Taxpayers should focus closely on the Parks and Recreation budget. The net cost for operating Rock Chalk Park is dependent on generating significant revenue from tournaments and other programs. Now we have taken another $80k from the fund for the ice rink. If the revenue projections fall short at Rock Chalk Park, budgets for other parts of the department will suffer.

I agree that a vibrant downtown is important. However, we are seeing a significant upward trend in property taxes to fund both the City of Lawrence and Douglas County. Any incremental sales tax revenue being generated from recreational investments will not come close to paying for the costs.

September 4, 2014 at 4:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Brownback: State school aid has increased since 2011

It is clear that state funding has not kept up with rising costs, and this fact is setting Kansas behind in education. However, I think it is unfair to blame this administration exclusively for the unfunded KPERS situation. Many administrations have passed on addressing an unfunded balance that has been growing for decades.

It is difficult to address issues like minimum retirement age, double dipping and other benefits that have been available to teachers in the current scheme. But, it is also unfair to the taxpayers of Kansas to perpetuate a benefit structure that is not being supported by current funding and leaves future administrations with a bill that will come do in the future.

The future is now as so many people in the system are now approaching retirement age.

August 7, 2014 at 7:32 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

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