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The T riding without a safety net


It was the plan that didn't float. City Commissioner Boog Highberger at Tuesday evening's City Commission meeting made one more effort to create a backup plan to ensure that the city's public transit system will operate in 2009, even if voters reject a two-tenths of one percent sales tax initiative that likely will be on the ballot in November. Here's what he proposed: ¢ Step 1 - Raise the 2009 mill levy by 2.52 mills. ¢ Step 2 - Continue with plans to put the 0.20 percent sales tax question on the ballot. ¢ Step 3 - Let voters decided on the sales tax issue. City commissioners would then react in one of two ways. If voters reject the sales tax, the 2.52 mills of property tax collections would be used to fund the city's bus system. If voters approve the sales tax for public transit, the 2.52 mills would be used to eliminate the 12 percent water rate increase that residents are slated to pay in 2009. "It was really the only mechanism I could find to refund that money generated by the increase in the mill levy," Highberger said. Highberger's plan, though, didn't win a single vote of support. The first step in Highberger's plan was a fatal one. No commissioner, other than Highberger, has shown any support for increasing the city's property tax rate in 2009. So, for the time being, it looks like the T will be riding without a safety net. But that could change. Mayor Mike Dever at the end of Tuesday's meeting said he does have an interest in creating a backup plan for public transportation if voters reject the sales tax. But he's not particularly interested in creating it now, he said. "We need to have a plan if it fails, but right now I want to focus on having this succeed," Dever said. Dever said he is concerned that too much talk of what will happen if the sales tax fails will create a self-fulfilling prophesy of the sales tax failing. The big question, however, is how much ability the city would have to create a backup plan under the budget that they're poised to pass. The budget commissioners are moving forward on doesn't have any property tax funding for the T, and it is not as if the city can simply increase the mill levy after the November election. Property tax bills already will have been sent, and the city will have lost its ability to collect any additional property taxes at that point. But Dever has said there are some reserve funds the city has available that could operate a very limited public transit system for about a year. And, of course, the city could choose to cut other services and use the savings to fund the T, although it likely would have to be a scaled down version as well. But if that is what commissioners are planning to do, they didn't tip their hand Tuesday. "If you really believe the T should be sustained, you really should support a sales tax for it," Commissioner Sue Hack told the crowd.


BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

This is what is going to happen - of course the vote will be held during the presidential election to insure every leftwing dingbat makes an appearance. One will say, "You support street improvements and transportation services through a sales tax increase." The other question will say, "You do not approve of street improvements and transportation services through a sales tax increase." Please check one. The T is saved, and we have more money down the drain, this time the T is voted in by a landslide.

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 9 months ago

Start of quote"If you really believe the T should be sustained, you really should support a sales tax for it," Commissioner Sue Hack told the crowd.End of quoteNo, Sue. You and the other commissioners should do something. You should look at each other and say, "We're failures! What have we done to make Lawrence a better place to live? What have we done to help our constituents? What have we done to bring jobs to Lawrence? We need to get jobs for our constituents not "positions." Not everybody is cut out for a "position." For years our predecessors have ignored the fact that it was the "working man" that built this great country and have turned their backs, as we have, on them. Now let's get started to turn this city around."And then Sue you need to turn to Mr. Dave Corliss (I still haven't been able to get past his screener - unlike Mike Wildgen who seemed to be available to all) and say to him, "Mr. Corliss take this budget and turn it into something that Lawrence and the Citizens of Lawrence can live with. Cut the fat, we all know there's fat in there. Find it and eliminate it. We all know that one basic principle of public administration is that the only way for a department to grow is to be inefficient so you need more employees. Now is the time to reverse that premise! Find the unnecessary. Find the wasteful. And don't tell us there's none in there. We want action Mr. Corliss not excuses!"Well, Sue, do you and the other commissioners have the courage to do that? Based upon your previous shenanigans and lack of reasonable action I seriously doubt it!Are you "Leaders" enough to prove me wrong? My Money's on me.

Jackson 9 years, 9 months ago

Lawrence should get rid of all large buses, and use only vehicles similar to those used by nursing homes to transport clients around town.

independent_rebel 9 years, 9 months ago

The far majority of the homeless population make little effort to make something out of themselves, and why should they? Instead of targeting the homeless population that we should--newly homeless, especially those with children, men and women who immediately make an effort to rise above their temporary situation--we have been forced by those on the far-let to spread out our money and our volunteering efforts to the dregs of society who have no intention of doing anything other than mooch off the blind kindness of others (and the taxes of the skeptics and pragmatists who know these leeches will contribute nothing but disease to our community).The people who truly need the funds and the attention don't get it, whether it be the para-transit riders or the temporary homless. They are lost in the shuffle because of the far-left and socialists who try to be too many things to too many people.The correct solution would be to trim out the waste. Monitor closely who uses what, and make sure those people who get the assistance come from within our community. Weed out the wanderers looking for the next handout and next adventure along their way. Those who don't want to improve, wait, those who don't improve, get nothing. Those who are career homeless, and there are dozens, get nothing from the public taxpayer. If Boog and Maynard-Moody and Martin-Smith want to help those who won't help themsleves, let them do it out of their own pocket and use their own homes.So many ideas, on both the left and right, are ruined by going to the extremes and trying to either include too many or exclude all but a few.It can be done, but hey, who votes for anyone with guts? Look at the rejects who run for Congress and the Presidency. Look at who runs for our CC. If that is the best our country and our city can do, is it any surprise the people in middle class bracket and those who truly need help to get back on their feet feel the twist of the knife?

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 9 months ago

The sales tax combined with high property taxes is way, way, too much. I would be in favor of eliminating property taxes, which are causing seniors and people living on fixed incomes nightmares, and raising the sales tax. That way everyone pays a fair share. Now if you do not own property you slide along without paying any tax but the sales tax, income tax, and other little taxes here and there. The property tax is devastating to seniors, and others living on a fixed income such as disabled people. Kansas is tax crazy. In Texas, for instance, there is no tax on groceries. When a person is disabled, or reaches 65, their property tax is frozen and will never rise past the present point. There is no tax on automobiles, only a $25 fee for an inspection sticker every year. The property taxes are high enough to make up some of the shortfall in revenue by the other differences. Overall the taxes are still lower, and there are no income guidelines for freezing the property taxes. This means older people do not have to worry and fret that they will be taxed off of their property, as it is in Kansas. Yes I would like to return to Texas, No I can't because my wife's family is all right here. Still, Kansas needs to revamp their taxes and make them much more fair to everyone. Thank you, Lynn

independent_rebel 9 years, 9 months ago

Hawk, You asked why it is so hard for people to use the para-transit system? Well, for those who may not understand, the para-transit is only supposed to be used by individuals certified/qualified as disabled(i.e. medicare). Of course, I'm not 100% sure about that. Also, unlike the T where you have to actually make it to a bus sto, with the para-transit system you actually make an appointment and it comes to your door and takes you directly to where you want to go. In essence, it is a taxi system.Of course, what should have been a good system was ruined by people who were not disabled abusing the para-transit service. From what I recall from this and other message boards, a person did not have to "prove" that they qualified to the para-transit system to get a pass, and would make numerous appointments to be picked up...and then simply not be there to be picked up.I'll be the first to admit I'm not sure how the para-transit used to work, but it certainly were abused by the lazy in this community who try to work the system for their benefit at the expense of the taxpayers. Who suffers? Those who truly need to use the para-transit system and the taxpayers. This is similar to other services hijacked and ruined by the far-left and the lazy (often one and the same). For example, there are homeless people in this community who are really trying to get back on their feet. They may have temporarily fallen on hard times (loss of job, poor health) but yet they don't blame others and try to quickly get back in the game. They sign up for classes to improve their situation--and attend them. They present themselves with dignity. They want to improve their lives and get back to where they were...and yet, because of the far-left who took over the town at the beginning of this millenium, it is exactly this segment of the homeless population that has been failed by the rest of us.See, we could help these people, but instead, we keep funding and keep attracting more homeless from outside of the community. There are now more homeless people come from outside of Lawrence than there are homeless who can truly call Lawrence their hometown.Career homeless, drunks, drugged, criminals, felons--Google stories on homeless individuals and you'll find that almost everysingle one them are not from Lawrence. They "heard" about Lawrence have oodles of services--so they came here. They were let out of prison--and were bussed or driven here by outside law enforsement agencies. They claim to have "family" here, but just don't get along with them for one reason or another--so they expect us to pick up their tab. They are teens on the run, strung out and unwilling to grow up--and they flock to the cool scene here in Lawrence.

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