LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

Proposed budget would reduce free parking downtown, limit funding for retiree marketing


In my household, July means the start of two seasons: This is about the time that my wife’s refusal to turn on the air conditioner causes the kids and I to set up Gatorade stations throughout the house, and it is when city officials really start to dive into their budgeting process.

Fortunately, the weather has been cool this week, so there’s been plenty of time to focus on the budget. We’ve already reported that City Manager David Corliss’ recommended budget for 2014 calls for a 0.4 mill increase, which amounts to about $9.20 per year in extra taxes on a $200,000 home.

But the budget has a lot more details in it than just the bottomline. Here’s a look at a few other items of interest:

• There may be one fewer place for downtown motorists to park for free. As part of his budget, Corliss is proposing that the top level of the public parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire Street no longer be available for free parking. City officials several years ago agreed to make the top level of the garage free to park as a way to encourage more use of the garage. Usage of the garage, however, is not expected to be a problem in the future. Already, demand is up because of the multi-story apartment building at 901 New Hampshire, and more motorists are expected to be in the area as a new hotel/retail building gets built on the southeast corner of the intersection. By the way, hotel developer Doug Compton has told me he expects to get started on construction of the hotel around July 10.

• Perhaps we won’t get to make those fun commercials to attract retirees to Lawrence after all. Corliss’ budget does not recommend funding $30,000 for an annual marketing campaign to attract more retirees to the community. This will be an interesting one to watch because the city and county already have spent good money to get the ball rolling on retiree attraction. In January, commissioners agreed, along with the county, to award a $34,500 contract to Lawrence-based Kern Group to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to attract higher-end retirees to the area. The contract calls for the group to create a title/slogan, a logo, a Web site, a package for marketing materials, and concepts for various print, broadcast and online advertising. Kern was up-front with officials that he expected it would take an advertising budget of about $60,000 to $80,000 a year to get the message out. If city officials don’t chip in $30,000 for the effort, I’m not sure where that leaves the commitment from the county or private stakeholders who may have made donations. We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, a fantastic advertising campaign hangs in the balance. I can see the commercial now: Retirees doing keg stands and streaking down Jayhawk Boulevard, followed by the tag line of “Lawrence: Where you are never old enough to know better.”

• Of all the books in the Lawrence Public Library, there must not be one entitled: How to Get Your Budget Request Fully-Funded at City Hall. Corliss is recommending a $100,000 increase in funding for the library as it prepares to move into its expanded facility downtown. But library leaders had asked for $175,000 increase. It is not unusual for agencies not to get everything they ask for, but how Corliss is proposing to fund this $100,000 increase is unusual. He recommends that the library fund dip into its rather paltry cash reserves to fund the $100,000 increase rather than raising the mill levy to do so. The library fund has about $235,000 in cash reserves, so this increase will eat up a good part of it. The strategy goes against the grain of one of Corliss’ long-held budget philosophies that permanent expenses need to be funded by permanent revenue sources. But in talking with Corliss, I think he is just hoping to buy time until the 2015 budget. The library’s first full year in its new facility will be 2015, and Corliss has said he has not forgotten what city officials told voters when they approved the $19 million expansion of the library. Officials told voters that they would provide the library additional money to operate the larger library. It was estimated a 0.5 mill increase would be needed for additional operational expenses. Thus far, the city only has funded a 0.2 mill increase for library operations. My crystal ball tells me to be on the lookout for a 0.3 mill increase in the 2015 budget.

• The new Rock Chalk Park recreation center will have a goal to shoot for — sort of. The 2014 recommended budget calls for the recreation center to generate about $715,000 in revenue, if it were to be open for a full year. But it won’t be open for a full year in 2014, so it won’t generate that much revenue. But that’s the number the city is shooting for once it is open full-time. As city officials said all along, the amount of revenue the center generates won’t be enough to cover its expenses. The 2014 budget — once again assuming a full year of operation — projects expenses for the center will be about $350,000 more than revenues. I believe revenues for the center will include things such as gym rental fees, class fees generated by the center, tournament and league revenue and concessions.

Ah, concessions. Maybe they’ll have a good deal on Gatorade. My kids and I sure hope so.


ksjayhawk74 4 years, 4 months ago

Great, because Doug Compton got to make the parking garage his own; there will be no more free parking spots downtown.

So people that work downtown will have to pay more for parking to accommodate the city handing Compton the city owned parking garage.

Oh but he didn't get it for free. He still has to pay for the parking spaces...

At least Compton is paying is fair share of taxes for the properties right? No, not even close. But he does get to impose his own tax in the hotel, to pay for the hotel's parking garage!!!

parrothead8 4 years, 4 months ago

There's plenty of free parking in downtown Lawrence, especially when you compare it to the amount of free parking in most other downtown areas.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 4 months ago

Yes, there are 2 hour parking lots. Those don't work well for people who work downtown and have to park all day.

George_Braziller 4 years, 4 months ago

They do however work well for the adjacent neighborhoods and residents who need a place to park until one of the downtown employees moves a vehicle and a parking spot on the street finally opens up after six or eight hours or ten hours.

pizzapete 4 years, 4 months ago

"Usage of the garage, however, is not expected to be a problem in the future. Already, demand is up because of the multi-story apartment building at 901 New Hampshire, and more motorists are expected to be in the area as a new hotel/retail building gets built on the southeast corner of the intersection. By the way, hotel developer Doug Compton has"... sent us a Christmas card that reads "thanks city of Lawrence, I couldn't have done it with out you" as a way of paying us back.

Kate Rogge 4 years, 4 months ago

Compton wants the buses moved, and the city's on board with that too.

John Hamm 4 years, 4 months ago

" Perhaps we won’t get to make those fun commercials to attract retirees to Lawrence after all. Corliss’ budget does not recommend funding $30,000 for an annual marketing campaign to attract more retirees to the community. " Good! Think about it. What does Lawrence have to attract "retirees?" Hot summers, cold winters, poor transit system.........

kernal 4 years, 4 months ago

Given the already high property taxes in Douglas County, the looming financial drain on Lawrence taxpayers for the Rock Chalk Rec Park and our ridiculous state government, it is just as well we not waste money on trying to attract retirees to this debacle. Maybe in the future, but not now.

I finally quit suggesting to friends that they retire in Lawrence. One can only take so much hysterical laughing.

blindrabbit 4 years, 4 months ago

Chad: What's the latest on the two big projects on the NE and SE corners of 9th and New Hampshire? I thought that there was some agreement with the City that at least one of them was to start construction in June! By-the-way that fenced lot on the SE corner looks pretty shabby! Thanks for the update.

blindrabbit 4 years, 4 months ago

I missed your comment on the start date of July 10th in the main story for the SE project!

Mark Currie 4 years, 4 months ago

I am a retiree living in Lawrence . When I came here 31 years ago, I liked living and working here. I am from the country, and moved back to the country for years. Now back in town due to circumstances beyond my control. Lawrence isn't what it was 31 years ago. Every place changes, but WOW, it has really changed. My problem is, I am not sure where I would move if I did. As to downtown parking, another way to kill off downtown and bring in more big box stores. About all I go down town for anymore is to get my hair cut, and buy shoes.

Mark Currie 4 years, 4 months ago

Oh, my mistake, I didn't see the part about high end retirees. I am a middle end retiree. I guess they don't want me here anyhow. They sure don't mind taking my property tax, sales tax, etc.

pizzapete 4 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, we're looking for older people with lots of money who don't need jobs and are willing to pay higher property and sales tax so our local developers can continue to skip out on paying any new taxes or providing any new jobs while they build more cheap high rise apartment buildings.

Jonathan Fox 4 years, 4 months ago

The higher property and sales taxes are to pay for the ridiculously outrageous multi-million dollar homeless shelter, rec center, and anything else the city can come up with to spend the people's money on that they don't need.

Anybody with two cents worth of intelligence knows that tax breaks are an investment in the future so that A) The developments happen creating construction work, B) The taxes he is paying (which will be a whole lot more than an ugly empty lot), C) The sales taxes brought in especially visitors to Lawrence, who subsequently spend downtown, D) Looking ahead to when the property starts paying full property taxes.

Anything is better than an ugly empty lot.

patkindle 4 years, 4 months ago

if you are a die hard Jayhawk sports fan, and have a bucket of money Lawrence might be the place to retire, if not, maybe not so much of a good idea

irvan moore 4 years, 4 months ago

by 2015 mr. Corliss might be one of those high end retirees so he maybe won't have to deal with the library budget

20yrtransplant 4 years, 4 months ago

Not reading the LJW anymore online......don't want to answer personal questions to see content!!!!!!!!!!!!! this sucks!!!!!

foxli 4 years, 4 months ago

Eh, just lie. It borks the data whoever is collecting and gets you to the content. Some around here have suggested a paywall like other small-town newspapers (and bigger ones) have. What would you rather have?

Curveball 4 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence has a lot to offer Rich retirees (KU Sports, good medical care, parks, etc.). Make no mistake about it, They want well heeled older folks. The idea is they will get attached to all the wonderful facilities and they will probably leave some money for a KU vanity building or something for the city. With the weather changing, Kansas might be the new Sunbelt. The lower income retirees will not show up or will be driven out by the cost of living.

repaste 4 years, 4 months ago

I thought agreement gave concession revenue to Mr.Fritzel?

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