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New tax increase proposals for police HQ; $30K funding request for downtown mural; 900-unit apartment complex up for review; Family Dollar to close
It is not quite like a wonderful Western Sizzlin' buffet where you can get spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes, whipped pudding, mashed potatoes, tacos and mashed potatoes all on the same plate. But City Hall officials have created a buffet of sorts of possible tax increases to pay for a new police headquarters building.
A new report is out that shows possible tax increase scenarios if the city endeavors to build a $25 million police headquarters. The city previously had put together such a scenario for a $30 million facility, but this is the first set of numbers since a proposal has emerged to drop the price to about $25 million. As a reminder, these increases would be in addition to the 1.85 mill property tax increase currently proposed for the 2015 budget. Any tax increase for the police station likely will be put on the November ballot for voters to decide in a citywide election.
So, get in line behind me and my wagon train of five buffet trays, and let's see the offerings:
• Option A is a sales tax of 0.15 percent. It could pay for the entire police headquarters project and then sunset after 17 years.
• Option B is a sales tax of 0.25 percent that would expire in nine years.
• Option C is a sales tax of 0.5 percent that would expire in five years.
• Option D is a sales tax of 1 percent that would expire in three years.
• Option E is a sales tax of 1.2 percent that would expire in two years.
• Option F is a sales tax of 0.1 percent that would expire in 20 years, and a property tax increase of 0.35 mill
• Option G is a sales tax of 0.2 percent that would expire in 10 years and a 0.15 property tax mill.
If you are curious how much the potential tax increases have dropped now that the price tag of the building appears to be about $5 million less, you can read this old article and compare. There are too many scenarios for me to fully compare (I've fallen into that trap with the whipped puddings) but one example is that at $30 million the project was expected to need a 0.3 percent sales tax for 10 years. Now, it is down to 0.25 percent for nine years.
City commissioners are scheduled to talk about the police headquarters building at their Tuesday evening meeting.
In other news and notes:
• From police to pollinators, city commissioners will get to hear it all on Tuesday. Commissioners on Tuesday are set to approve the general outlines of the 2015 budget, but not before they hear some additional funding requests.
That includes a $30,000 request in funding to help re-create the "Pollinators" mural that is on the wall of the soon-to-be-demolished office building at the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. The location will house another multistory apartment and office building by developer Doug Compton and his group of investors.
As we previously reported, members of the art community fought hard to have the future of the mural considered as part of the project. Developers and city commissioners worked out a compromise to have a portion of the exterior of the new building set aside for a re-creation of the mural.
Now, somebody just has to figure out how to pay for it. Compton's group has committed $20,000 to the mural project, but the organization Friends of the Spencer Museum of Art is estimating the project will cost $50,000. The group is asking for the city to fund the $30,000 difference.
Reginald Robinson, president of the organization, tells commissioners in a letter that the $30,000 in funding would provide the "city with an invaluable opportunity to demonstrate how to resolve, in a balanced and constructive way, the tensions that can emerge between art and culture on the one hand, and important economic development initiatives on the other."
Commissioners also will hear funding requests from the nonprofit agencies Warm Hearts and Van Go Mobile Arts. Both of those organizations are proposed to have their funding cut in the 2015 budget.
• As we've reported, Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners tonight will consider several requests related to a new shopping center southeast of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
But that won't be the only major project up for discussion. A 900-unit apartment development also will be debated. It is for The Links at Lawrence, which is a proposal that would build apartments near the Rock Chalk Park sports complex in northwest Lawrence.
The project has been on the drawing board for years. In 2008, city commissioners approved a plan for a 480-unit apartment complex. It never got built. Then plans were filed for a 630-unit apartment development. It never got built. As we reported in April, the Arkansas-based development group now has filed plans for about 900 apartment units spread out over about 50 buildings on about 72 acres.
UPDATE: Previously the proposal had included a small golf course that would be built adjacent to the apartment complex. But the golf course component has been removed from this most recent plan. I had not noted that upon a quick review earlier today, but the course indeed is out of the plan.
A 900-apartment complex would be one of the larger ones in the city, but it is worth noting the group proposes building the project in two phases. Phase I would be 650 units with 1,038 bedrooms. Phase 2 would be 258 units with 430 bedrooms.
The city's planning staff is recommending approval of the development plan. The Planning Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. today at City Hall.
• If your family spends its dollars at Family Dollar, it soon will have to look for a new location. Signs are up, and a manager at Family Dollar store at 23rd and Louisiana streets has confirmed the store is closing. The manager said it likely will close in August, but perhaps earlier or later depending on how quickly inventory is depleted. The Family Dollar, which is located in The Malls shopping center, is the only Family Dollar in Lawrence. The manager said staff members haven't heard of any plans for the company to reopen in a new Lawrence location. The closest Family Dollar now is the new one that opened near the Church Street interchange along Kansas Highway 10 in Eudora.