Letter to the editor
To the editor:
As citizens of Baldwin City, who believe in the city’s future, we are asking everyone to please get out on Nov. 3 and vote “yes” on each of the separate sales tax questions.
The one-half cent sales tax for capital improvements must pass to keep property taxes down. In 2012 Baldwin City and Douglas County will split the estimated $3.5 million in construction costs for the North Sixth Street improvement project. A sales tax will disperse the burden of improvements onto everyone who visits and calls Baldwin City home. If the sales tax does not pass the burden to pay for these improvements will fall directly on the property owners of Baldwin City.
While the one-half cent sales tax is providing funding for infrastructure improvements, the additional one-quarter cent sales tax will generate a steady revenue source to improve quality of life for all ages in Baldwin City. There have been many suggestions from the community about what quality of life projects to fund first. Some of the ideas that have been brought to the attention of the current city council include, but are not limited to: walking/biking trails, bathrooms and water fountains in parks, athletic fields, dog park, skateboard park, Frisbee golf, community center, improvements to library and/or historical sites. This city council has been prudent about educating themselves on the quality of life needs in the city. The council recently commissioned a Parks Master Plan and asked the Baldwin City Recreation Commission director to conduct a Recreational Needs Survey of Baldwin City residents.
The recent Parks Master Plan and Baldwin City Resident Survey identified paved walking/biking paths and park bathrooms and water fountains as the first projects to tackle. The paved walkways throughout the city would solve the long-standing problems of worn inadequate sidewalks and getting the children and residents around Baldwin safely. Think of Baldwin City’s residents’ improved health when children have a safe option of riding a bike to school and all have a safe passage to our beautiful parks, pool, lakes and historical sites. What a wonderful day it will be when Baldwin City residents don’t have to worry when their child is headed by foot or bike to a location across U.S. Highway 56 because there is a tunnel or an overpass to traverse it.
The practical and urgent part of pursuing the paved walking/biking trails first is that there is a Transportation Enhancement reimbursement program that would pay up to 80 percent of the construction costs. The deadline for this reimbursement program is Dec. 30 for 2011/2012 projects. A yes vote on the tax question would provide the last 20 percent to fund such a project.
In addition, the Elm and North Sixth Street project timeline allows coordination with a 2011/2012 walking/biking path project and this would most likely reduce costs.
Let’s continue Baldwin’s long-standing tradition of steady improvement and keep our property taxes down. Please vote “yes” on each of the tax questions on Nov. 3.
Christi and Hank Darnell