Archive for Thursday, October 29, 2009

Voters to decide on sales tax Tuesday

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew was in Baldwin City Monday afternoon to train poll workers for Tuesday's election. Baldwin City voters will decide on two sales tax questions. The three Baldwin City polls — American Legion Hall, downtown fire station and Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center — will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shew said he expects to tabulate the results by 8 p.m. and they will be available online as soon as possible.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew was in Baldwin City Monday afternoon to train poll workers for Tuesday's election. Baldwin City voters will decide on two sales tax questions. The three Baldwin City polls — American Legion Hall, downtown fire station and Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center — will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shew said he expects to tabulate the results by 8 p.m. and they will be available online as soon as possible.

October 29, 2009

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew is expecting about 500 Baldwin City voters to decide the outcome of Tuesday’s special election regarding two sales tax questions on the ballot.

“The 2005 special election had a 15 percent turnout with 381 voters participating. That election was Dec. 22, so that may have impacted turnout,” said Shew, regarding the election for Sunday sales of liquor, which voters passed. “We had roughly 700 people vote in the April election. My guess would be somewhere between 400 to 500 people, although advance voting is fairly slow right now.

“We have had three in-person advance eight mail advance returned,” he said. “In the 2005 election, there were 32 advance votes. The interest in this election appears about equal to the 2005 special election regarding Sunday sales, so I am hopeful for 15 to 20 percent turnout.”

Voters within the city limits will go to the three polling places to determine the outcome. One question is whether to renew the current half-cent sales tax, which has been in place since 1991, and most recently paid off the swimming pool. If it passes, the approximate $180,000 it raises annually would go to infrastructure improvements, most notably the north Sixth Street project, of which the county and city will share the $3.5 million cost.

The second question asks if a new .25 percent sales tax should be instituted to pay for “quality of life issues.” Those have been designated as building new hiking and biking trails and improvements to current city parks, such as adding restrooms and water fountains.

The Baldwin City sales tax vote is the only election in Douglas County this fall. Shew said that’s become a trend.

“Lately it has been happening more regularly that a governing body is calling a special election that does not coincide with the regularly scheduled elections,” said Shew. “Eudora held a special election in November 2007, the Lawrence school district called a special election in April 2008 and Baldwin City held a special election in 2005.”

Advance voting is available at the county courthouse through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and Monday from 8 a.m. to noon. It will also be available at the Baldwin City Public Library from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

“I am really excited to offer this opportunity to the citizens to vote on Saturday,” he said. “Hopefully, this will help ease any barriers in participation that may be presented with voting on Tuesday.”

For more information or to view the ballot, go to the Web site at

“As always, voters can go to our Web site to check their polling places and voting information,” said Shew. There are no voting place changes for this election. We have been getting a number of questions asking who gets to participate in this election. This is a city-only election and therefore only registered voters residing within the city boundaries are eligible to participate in this election.”

He estimated the cost for the election to be between $5,000 and $7,000. He also said votes will be counted in Baldwin City, just as was done in 2005.

“We are once again counting the votes down at the American Legion Hall, just like we did in 2005, although technology has changed and we do not need to bring down the really big central count machine,” said Shew. “It will be open to the public just like the courthouse usually is on election night. It will probably not take long for results. I would guess 8 p.m. at the latest.”

Polls at the American Legion Hall, Fire Station and Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Signal will have those results available online at as soon as possible. Additional information on the sales-tax questions can also be found here.


SASHA 10 years, 11 months ago

It is dangerous to pass a permanent tax with no checks and balances. Where is the accountability? If this proposal would have had an ending date or more specifics, then I would have voted for it. Governments are known to waste money from the federal, all the way down to the local level. This is why I urge people to vote no, and let the city rewrite this tax proposal.


greyghost 10 years, 11 months ago

Jamie Shew estimates that turnout on Tuesday ".....would be somewhere between 400 to 500 people....."

But let's not forget that R. Bruce Anderson claims that ".....Baker students will play an increasing role in our community as they register and vote here in increasing numbers." [source]

R. Bruce, how many students have you registered here this fall semester? How many will actually get out and vote? How many of the 500 will be Baker students? Or, does that figure not include the Baker contingency?

Is Danielle Weimholt out there with a student registration drive? How did that go for you? How many new registrants did you get on your drive this year?


beevo 10 years, 11 months ago

I really would like to vote yes on part "A" of the sale tax, but will not. It is correct that a sales tax would fairly spread a tax over the the entire community and would not just be another tax burden born by only the property owners. That is fair. However, I have reservations. This tax will not help relieve the tax burdened property owners of Baldwin City. It is essentially just an additional tax. We are already the highest taxed community in Douglas County. I also look unkindly upon the threat of additional property taxes if this sales tax does not pass. I may have missed the information, if any, on what our city government has done to reduce its expenditures. As for part "B", now is not the time to spend tax money on anything other than the essential needs of our community. The view of entitlement held by some members of our community must cease. At this time, we simply can not afford it.


K_dub 10 years, 11 months ago

Let me get this straight....

The renewed sales tax proposal would be to extend the .0050 sales tax.

And, the new one would be to add an additional .0025 sales tax for funds to enhance the quality of life for the town.

Am I understanding that correctly? So, for every $100 that is spent in town a person [visitor or local] would contribute .75?

I'm definitely not in the higher end of the social ladder [actually I'm hanging on the bottom rung], but to me this does not seem like a very high price to pay for a decent place for children to play - safe place to cross 56 Hwy [I know there is a crosswalk, but I've only seen a handful of people that stop for kids in the crosswalk], and a other community enhancing features.

I am one of the most frugal people around - BUT, I am also one of the first to help a friend in need, and I think this is an economic way to spread the cost around a little more fairly.

I'm sorry I am not an eloquent writer as quite a number of people that post on Speak out are, but I think this is a good thing for Baldwin. I just hope more people will realize it isn't that big of a price tag. I for one didn't understand the cost until Tony brought it up in a recent post. Thanks Tony!


Justask 10 years, 11 months ago

Dear K-dub,

My opposition to both of these taxes has nothing to do with their costs and everything to do with their execution.

Neither of these taxes end, no matter who is holding elected office.

There are no specifics in either proposal about where the money will go. Lots of "could be's," but no "will be's."

So I am voting no on both. I like the idea of most of the items presented in the ballot questions, but I want to know that the money raised to will go toward them. Also, I want these taxes to end without holding an election to do so. It worked with the pool. It needs to work with both of these sales taxes.

And I'm hanging on to the bottom of the ladder right next to you.


Stacy Napier 10 years, 11 months ago

You do have your math wrong. It is .50 and .25 tax. That is 75 cents for $100 dollars.

Doesn't seem like much. Look at your cable bill. That will go up about a $1.00 a month. How about your gas bill. That will be $1 or $2 a month. How many times do you fill your gas tank. Once a week? that will be another $156 a year. Then when you buy a $15.000 car that will be an extra $1125 thank you.

In the end you could be looking at several thousands of dollars added to your expenses.

And since they won't say were it is going to go they could just use it for lawn sprinklers in the parks or gold plating the street signs for all we know.


SpeaksSlowlyToIdiots 10 years, 11 months ago


Sales tax is not paid on gasoline. Cable is charged a franchise fee tax, not a sales tax. If you buy a new car every year then you don't have any worry about sales taxs. Oh, and by the way, your math is wrong. It would add an additional $112.50 to the car purchase. Looks like you are today's royal idiot.


K_dub 10 years, 11 months ago


I believe my math was correct. I was doing the math for $1, whereas your math was for $100. The end result was the same.


Your post made me laugh! Thank you.


Stacy Napier 10 years, 11 months ago

Speak slow,

Ok then you vote for it and pay my share.



Torch 10 years, 11 months ago

This vote needs to send a message not just to the council but to our fellow Baldwin residents.

It's time to take a breather on spending other peoples' money. We're up to our a** in taxes already and while you have your mommy and daddy's money in the bank the rest of us are struggling to make ends meet.

Take an appetite suppressant and try to live within your means instead of spending the money of people who are still in grade school.

This community is out of control on its spending and it needs to stop. Those of us not living on our great-grandfather's property and working for a living need a breather.

Vote no to send a message to everyone that it's time to take a break!


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