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Building jail expansion in phases would take 16 years, $6M to $8M a year, county says

Wouldn't it have made more sense to provide this analysis before the ballot question was drafted/submitted?

February 20, 2018 at 6:42 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

State law won't allow Douglas County commissioners to campaign for passage of jail, mental health sales tax

The AG opinion can be found here:

http://ksag.washburnlaw.edu/opinions/...

Patrick Wilbur
Lawrence Sunset Alliance

January 30, 2018 at 7:19 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Douglas County commissioners ready to ask voters to approve jail expansion, behavioral health initiatives

From this year's budget discussion:

Although Commissioner Michelle Derusseau said she supported the behavioral health initiatives in the budget, she requested cuts in two of the programs so that the budget's overall mill levy increase could be limited to 1.761 mills. Continued county tax increases were exacerbating the county’s affordable housing problems, she said.

“Over the last eight years, the county has increased its mill levy 11.2 mills,” she said. “I’d like to get back to a 1.76-mill increase. Exempt or nonexempt (spending) doesn’t mean anything to taxpayers.”

The county has steadily increased the burden on taxpayers over the past decade. Yes - some of this spending is non-discretionary, but much of it can be tracked to decisions made by the commission and staff. Decisions have consequences and now we face yet another sales tax ballot question. If the county feels it must ask for a jail expansion take the time to do this correctly and separate the questions. The county asked for the original text from the legislature and it can do that again.

January 16, 2018 at 9:36 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Faith group wants Lawrence residents to vote yes on affordable housing sales tax

Well as always the truth is in between in that pesky gray area. Lawrence does not have the highest tax (or sales tax) burden in the state. Lawrence IS in the 90th percentile in sales tax burden when compared to all other cities in Kansas. Approval of the 10-year ballot proposals would keep us in that area. Even if all three ballot questions were to fail we would still be in the 57th percentile in regard to sales yax burden.

September 26, 2017 at 4:32 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter to the editor: Renew sales tax

Hi Carol - there are many concerns regarding question 3. The LJW editorial was simply echoing the concerns of many voters:

"You printed a recent editorial suggesting that this fall’s election was not the time to renew the sales tax."

Why do we have to do it this fall? The tax is actually not a renewal - it;s a "re-purpose". The new tax period would not even begin until April 2019. So why right now?

"I know that the sales tax is regressive; however, it seems to me that this is the best time to use this vehicle to begin to regenerate an affordable housing trust fund."

The sales tax is regressive. That means we are taxing the people who can least afford it in an attempt to help people transition into affordable housing. This is a sub-optimal strategy.

"Your editorial also suggested that the issue needed to be studied more. In fact, affordable housing has been studied multiple times since 1993 with little to no lasting results."

The study has already been requested.

"However, in 2014 Justice Matters encouraged the city to unearth previous studies and the city discovered $100,000 that had been earmarked for housing but had not been used because city leaders thought another study was required. My thought is, why waste more money on another study when a cross collaboration among housing providers was able to leverage the leftover $100,000 to $400,000 with private donations, and three permanently affordable homes were built in 2014-2015 to provide three homes for formerly homeless children and families. Proof, it can be done!"

So, if we leverage $1,000,000, we'll end up with maybe 30 more affordable housing units a year? Can Habitat for Humanity and Tenants to Homeowners even handle that much construction yearly? Is this a long-term solution to the affordable housing problem?

"In lieu of nonexistent help from the state and a tremendous strain on the city for other important projects, it seems to me that the sales tax should be renewed and put to work for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund."

Again, it's not a renewal. The sale tax to which you refer is scheduled to sunset in March 2019.

"Those monies can leverage grants and meanwhile the city can re-examine ways to continue to provide affordable housing."

Why can't the city at least review and discuss with the public the Affordable Housing Advisory Board's recommendation of alternative funding stream options that was presented to them in May of this year? (https://assets.lawrenceks.org/assets/...)

Again, WHY NOW?

September 25, 2017 at 10:19 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Local group wants Lawrence residents to vote against $116M citywide sales tax renewal

Thanks for your concern Francis. I resigned my position as co-chair in May. The VEC is a great organization that was, is and will remain a non-partisan entity.

Patrick

September 25, 2017 at 8:05 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence voters to decide whether city should triple spending on affordable housing

Rochelle is correct that one of our primary concerns is the regressive nature of the tax. It is worth noting that the most frequent comment I have heard from voters/taxpayers on any of the three ballot questions is the lack of a plan for question #3. Even if you believe a regressive tax on essential items can somehow solve the affordable housing problem in Lawrence a roadmap for spending/allocation should be the minimal requirement. Nobody disagrees that the availability of affordable housing is a problem in Lawrence - this is not the way to attack the problem.

#sunsetsarebeautiful

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lawre...

September 18, 2017 at 9:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Renewal of infrastructure sales tax puts $63 million in projects on the line

This is a great story - thanks to Rochelle for her comprehensive review of the .3 ballot question.

As mentioned, the Lawrence Sunset Alliance is indeed concerned about the regressive nature of these taxes. Currently Lawrence is in the .90 percentile for sales tax burden among Kansas cities. Many cities are able to cover a greater percentage of their core services without using a special sales tax.

As Commissioner Amyx acknowledges the city is prepared to come back with a different proposal. This is a negotiation between the city and taxpayers and it is clear this is not the city's best and final offer. A no vote is appropriate for question #2.

For more information please visit us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lawre...

September 10, 2017 at 12:42 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Renew transit tax

The Lawrence Sunset Alliance (please check us out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/11306...) opposes this ballot question. Here are a few facts to keep in mind:

>> The transit system current has over $5,000,000 in allocated funds. According to the 2008 ballot question the use of funds allow for quite a bit of flexibility - "Additional dedicated resources for the transit system will provide for route enhancements and vehicle and facility improvements. Examples include increased bus service frequency on busy routes and alternative fuel buses"

>> It is inappropriate to ask voters for a 10-year commitment until a hub plan is developed. Keep in mind the tax does not sunset until 2019. There is still time to solidify a plan for what the city is actually going to do with the funding.

>> Other potential ways to alleviate taxpayer burden - the funding levels required from any source could be reduced by adjusting the revenue structure or reducing operating costs using a combination of the following: requiring payment for KU Card holders traveling off campus, increasing fares in general, adjusting fares based on length of route to align with costs, renegotiating driver contracts/shifting to salaried drivers, reducing the number of routes, or reducing the frequency of some routes.

We do NOT advocate ending transit service. Our goal is to ensure that there is a legitimate discussion about the implications of extended service and long-term impact before there is a commitment to the city.

August 23, 2017 at 7:57 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Paul Davis makes it official: He's running for governor

Since the LJW continues to ignore them here are 2 active candidates for Governor that have innovative ideas and won't waste time with partisan politics.

http://www.vote4kansas.com/

http://www.keenforkansas.com/

September 17, 2013 at 8:38 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

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