robchestnut (Rob Chestnut)

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Kansas to consider tightening limits on local property taxes

This entire dialog is missing an important point. As the State of Kansas continues to cut funding for social services, education and the arts, it is local government funding that has been forced to stem the tide. The problem with this legislation is that it does not take into account actions taken by the legislature to cut programs at the state level now being absorbed by municipalities.

I do not want to see increasing property taxes, but I also want to give my locally elected officials the flexibility to meet the needs in the community that the state chooses not to meet if the majority of its constituents supports the initiative.

Unfortunately, this is an attempt to push down the dogma of the state legislature to each and every local community. Regardless of the issue, it is not a good precedent on its face.

January 12, 2016 at 7:39 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence school district sees drop in operating cash despite spending less in 2015

The bigger issue is where do we go from here? The district is spending down fund balance despite lower operating expenditures, and the state budget is missing revenue projections again.

We may reach a point where the State will begin delays in transfers as was the case during the recession, and I believe that is unacceptable. The education funding situation must be stabilized. Regardless of your politics, it would seem reasonable that we can agree that a stable funding mechanism should be in place, and it is currently in a state of flux.

January 10, 2016 at 3:58 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Rejection of south Iowa Street shopping center sends confusing signals about future of south Lawrence growth

I think Chad does a great job of pointing to the somewhat uneven logic applied to this denial. The issue goes well beyond this particular project. It is the legitimate concern that Lawrence will suffer erosion on retail centers in other parts of the city as a result of a build up of retail on across the SLT.

However, I think the situation is different now than the past when most of the retail activity was in downtown and some adjacent retail centers. That has long past us now.

Perception is an important part of the political process regardless of the current reality. That is why the commission does need to direct planning to come up with a clear vision that can be supported related to development of that corridor.

If a new plan proposed leaving this area vacant, then we need to immediately stop making investments in infrastructure south of the SLT and focus our energy elsewhere.

January 7, 2016 at 7:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City Commission rejects shopping development in south Lawrence

The commission needs to direct planning to review the Southern Development Plan which is essentially the area in question. It was adopted in late 2007, and it is out of date. An auto-related commercial center presents issues of its own with a lot of concrete and runoff. Given all that has transpired since 2007, and the fact that this area now has a lot of interest with the opening of the bypass, it is time for the planning department look at the uses and create some expectations for the next 20 years.

January 6, 2016 at 5:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Public incentives approved for apartment project at Eighth and New Hampshire

Increased density means fewer lane miles of roads to pave, fewer water lines to maintain and overall makes for less investment in infrastructure. Being more spread out increases costs for police, fire and public works departments. My point is that the commission decided a number of years ago to promote increased density with its development code for these reasons.

December 2, 2015 at 2:52 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Public incentives approved for apartment project at Eighth and New Hampshire

A few items to consider:

Downtown residents create demand for services in the area. This continues to be a trend that will preserve an active and vibrant downtown.

Density helps leverage infrastructure investment. Lawrence was 5,000 citizens per sq mile within the city limits 50 years ago. It is now less than 3,000. This trend needs to reverse.

All that being said, the downtown guidelines exempting properties within the district from holding to parking guidelines will reach its limit as we create more density. It is time for the planning commission to take this up to provide guidance for future projects.

December 2, 2015 at 7:49 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City Commission to interview 8 city manager applicants

The City Manager job is one of the most challenging positions anyone will ever undertake. We take for granted the services delivered daily. Clean water, wastewater treatment, street maintenance, park and recreation management and a whole host of benefits that enhance life in the Lawrence every day. I am happy to see that so many qualified candidates are willing to take the challenge.

October 14, 2015 at 2:41 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Larsen, Morgan advance to fill vacant Lawrence City Commission seat

Bob, I agree that business experience should not be an obsession. However, it can be helpful in understanding complexities in a large organization such as the City of Lawrence. Your point is well taken on purposes. Clearly, it is important to understand the difference charters between the public and private sector.

October 2, 2015 at 10:42 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Another national chicken chain files plans for south Iowa Street; shopping center near 25th and Iowa to undergo major renovations

I would love an Olive Garden. For the record, there was a proposal for Olive Garden that was denied several years ago.

September 3, 2015 at 9:07 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Budget choices

An attempt to compare the budget situation with the State of Kansas and City of Lawrence is unfounded. The "tax increase" referred to by Mr. Lippencott during this budget session in Topeka was an attempt to fill a $400 million hole created by the tax bill passed several years ago exempting self-employed income and lowering tax rates overall. The analysis of this benefit showed that those with Kansas Adjusted Gross Income over $100k received more than 80% of the benefit of these reductions. No tangible economic growth resulted from these actions, and the administration did not have a plan on how to reduce expenditures in anticipate of lower revenues. So, the legislature chose to fill the hole with regressive taxes and further depletion of state fund balances.

The City of Lawrence did approve a budget that will produce a deficit if projections are correct for the next budget year. I agree that this trend can't continue indefinitely, and it has moderate risk of creating issues down the road if we see sales tax proceeds level off and assessed valuation in Douglas County remains stagnant. However, the fund balance is much more robust as a percentage of total spending in Lawrence than it is with the State of Kansas.

August 17, 2015 at 8:07 a.m. ( | suggest removal )