LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
Bigg's BBQ to open in former Buffalo Bob's space downtown; study finds Douglas County residents get best bang for the buck on taxes paid
Don't worry downtown co-workers, I once again will have barbecue sauce on my tie for those one o'clock meetings. (Obviously, I mean fresh barbecue sauce.) I've gotten confirmation that Bigg's Barbecue is taking over the downtown space formerly occupied by Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse.
Doug Holiday, owner of Bigg's, told me the new restaurant, 719 Massachusetts St., will be called Bigg's on Mass. Renovation work will begin soon, and he hopes to have the restaurant open in August.
The new restaurant will be in addition to the two that Holiday already operates — the original Bigg's BBQ on south Iowa, and Burgers by Bigg's near Sixth and Wakarusa.
"I've had a lot of people tell me that downtown is a good place to be," Holiday said. "I think we're missing some people by not being downtown."
Holiday said Bigg's on Mass will be focused on barbecue rather than the burger menu he serves in West Lawrence. That means pulled pork, brisket, a couple of styles of ribs, turkey, smoked Italian sausage and some Bigg's favorites such as pulled pork nachos.
The restaurant, though, will have the same type of quick-service model that is used at Burgers by Bigg's. That means you'll order at the counter, and then staff members will bring the food to you at your table.
"We're really going to concentrate on high-quality barbecue, and getting it out quick to the customer," Holiday said.
The restaurant will seat about 90 people, Biggs said, but he also plans to offer a boxed-lunch delivery service for at least the downtown area.
The space became available after Lawrence City Commissioner Bob Schumm retired from the restaurant business in April and closed Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse after 37 years in downtown.
"This was just the right place at the right time for us," Holiday said. "We're excited about the opportunity."
In other news and notes from around town:
• Well, here's news that may cause you to do something odd with your barbecue turkey leg: In all of Kansas, Douglas County provides the best bang for the buck when it comes to property taxes levied. In all of the U.S., Douglas County ranks as the 42nd best property tax value.
At least, that's according to a new study by the financial assistance website SmartAssett.com. But there are some caveats here. For one, the study doesn't rank every county in Kansas. It ranks only five — Douglas, Saline, Leavenworth, Butler and Shawnee. The study only looked at counties with populations of 50,000 and above, but I'm not sure why Johnson, Sedgwick, Wyandotte and Riley counties weren't ranked.
The other thing to remember is that the study is trying to rank value. Are you getting a lot for what you pay? That is key in Douglas County's case because the study did find that the per capita amount of property tax paid in Douglas County is higher than any of the other counties studied in Kansas. It also found that the per capita tax in Douglas County was about $240 per year higher than the national average.
But in the study, Douglas County received an 'A' grade, and a high national ranking. It looks like our relatively low crime rate and good public schools moved us up the rankings.
Of the five Kansas counties studied, Douglas had the lowest number of violent crimes per 100,000 people at 22. That was less than second-place finisher Saline County at 40.9 and well less than the high-water mark of 81.9 in Leavenworth County. Douglas also had the lowest number of property crimes per 100,000 people with 151.4. That's less than runner-up Saline at 250.7. Butler had the highest figure at 905.8. All those numbers are taken from a 2012 FBI Crime Statistics report.
A spokeswoman at SmartAsset told me that Douglas County's schools ranked in the top 30 percent of the state, according to a U.S. Department of Education report that is based off state assessment scores. She didn't provide me rankings for the other counties.
On the matter of taxes paid, the study found a census number that estimated the amount of taxes collected by each county. It then divided that by the number of households in the county, and then divided that number by the median home value in the county. The result is a property tax rate expressed as a percentage. In Douglas County, the rate was 1.3 percent, which tied for the lowest rate with Saline and Leavenworth. Butler was the highest at 1.6 percent and Shawnee was at 1.5 percent. The national average, however, was 1.1 percent.
So, if you are keeping track, Douglas County was on the wrong side of the national average in all the taxes-paid categories, but was on the right side of the national average on all the quality-of life-categories. This study is a bit incomplete — it doesn't factor average incomes into the equation at all, for example — but it is a good reminder that when evaluating taxes, there is more than just a dollar amount to consider.
It was unclear to me exactly how many counties were ranked nationally, but it looks like about 1,500.
As for the grades other Kansas counties received, here's a look at the report card: Douglas, A, $915 in property taxes per capita; Saline, A, $635 per capita; Leavenworth, C, $793 per capita; Butler, D, $805 per capita; Shawnee D, $771 per capita.