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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.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Will there be a box to check off NO new police station now?

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 6 months ago

Vote yes for the new police station.

Why can't the artists donate a mural to the city?

Lee Saylor 3 years, 6 months ago

Because the artists make their living by creating art. For most artists, art is not a sideline.

Joda Totten 3 years, 6 months ago

Option F or G; property tax (on all real estate) should be part of the formula; sales tax is already high. And I am a property owner. The police departments' functions include property protection.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 6 months ago

I just don't want to pay more tax money for more economy enforcement officers. How about we trim some ridiculous laws from the books, and make due with what we have. Can we sell that monstrosity of a war machine we just picked up?

Russell Fryberger 3 years, 6 months ago

Vote no on all taxes until some of them make sense.

Matthew Herbert 3 years, 6 months ago

$50,000 to paint a mural? Who is painting it, Picasso?

John Graham 3 years, 6 months ago

With the various excuses they have for raising taxes, then they actually are going to consider giving $30,000 of taxpayer dollars for a mural? This is the nonsense that needs to stop. This kind of stuff all adds up. While $30k may not be much it is a nonessential item. If the building owner is putting up $20k then get the best $20k mural they can get but don't waste tax dollars on this. Cut the ice rink which is $1m. With the population not changing significantly why the additional police sarg at $125k? Why the city party planner at $100k plus? And I hope no one believes any of the suggested tax increases will ever sunset. Once the building is paid for the commissioners will find some new way to spend the money.

Kevin Elliott 3 years, 6 months ago

It is always sad when people think a grey and concrete city is best. it is very short sighted to not realize that art increases the value of a community. it increases property values, it increases the viability of a downtown when people find it a pleasant place to go.

Art is not optional, it is essential for a reasonable society.

Doug Von Feldt 3 years, 6 months ago

I like living in Lawrence, but I think the spending is out of control. There are so many things that seem more beneficial than a mural.

David Reynolds 3 years, 6 months ago

Why can't the city commission & Manager "Just Say No"! The city needs to go on a major diet and cut its spending in line with revenues, just like the citizens still dealing with unemployment, wage cuts & fixed incomes.

The commission should just say no to raises, new arts director, mural redo, new hiring & the other long list of non-essentials. The commission put us in this situation with the police department when they approved the recreation center a year ago. Now they should reallocate their budget to pay for the new police station without raising taxes. They made a bad decision a year ago, now they can make it right. The budget should be absolute needs only based on current income only.

The arts need to go on a major fund raising drive to pay for their wants today.

When the government sucks money out of the economy thru taxation the economy can't grow like it should. Taxation hurts everyone.

Not everyone in the private sector in town enjoys pay increases each year to afford these tax increases.

I had a city commissioner tell me he gets a lot of angry mail. Well the current out of control spending and taxing explains a lot doesn't it!

Mark Rainey 3 years, 6 months ago

1 The sales tax increases will not sunset.

Mark Rainey 3 years, 6 months ago

Why is that in bold font, did not type that way!

Karen Linsey 3 years, 6 months ago

Keep subsidizing the apartment complexes and taxing the home owners and we’ll all be renters. Wrong direction to be heading, don’t you think?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Wrong direction absolutely.

Owning a home in Lawrence,Kansas may be at the point where renting is the most fiscal responsible choice. Perhaps the rental movers and shakers know this.

Assuming it is always the best to buy may not apply since 2005….. something to think about. Will an owner ever get their money back much less walk away with a profit?

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

Why don't you ask for a breakdown if you think the mural is too expensive? I would imagine the expenses include - archival paint suitable for the surface, priming and/or sealing the mural to prevent damage. Scaffolding or lifts to reach the higher areas. Hiring a work crew to work in teams. Drafting up a design based on the old work but grided into sections, etc.

I've never done such a project. I don't know. But it would be interesting to see it itemized.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

The LPD new land is $3.2 million for the 47 acres = more than $66,000 per acre for unimproved property. This does not seem like a smart buy.

Can taxpayers afford such luxuries considering taxpayers own property that could accomplish this feat? Over and above the tax increase?

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