Archive for Thursday, January 27, 2011

Baldwin City’s sales tax collections up, down in 2010

January 27, 2011

According to Kansas Department of Revenue figures, Baldwin City’s sales tax collections were up and down in 2010.

As a whole, Baldwin City ‘s numbers increased in 2010, but that was because of a quarter-cent percent sales tax increase that began in April.

“For the previous two years, when people said the economy was tanking, our sales tax numbers were staying pretty stable,” Baldwin City Administrator Jeff Dingman said. “The last four or five months of 2010 were behind previous years.”

According to the revenue depatment, Baldwin City collected $328,053.86 in sales tax in 2009. In 2010, the city collected $349,609.77 with the jump in the sales tax from 1 cent to 1.25 cents the last nine months of the year. City voters approved the sales tax hike in 2009.

Dingman said the additional quarter-cent sales tax brought in about $62,000 from April 1 to Dec. 31.

Although the quarter-cent “quality of life” sales tax helped Baldwin City collect more money this year, the other sales taxes decreased. The Kansas Legislature approved a one-cent statewide sales tax increase, which became effective July 1. It boosted the state’s collections from $700,136,518.79 to $705,413,616.72.

In the November 2009 election, Baldwin City voters also approved the renewal of a half-cent sales tax, which is dedicated for capital improvements and has in place since 1991. Another half-cent sales tax, which was already in place, was also continued.

The original half-cent brought in around $165,000, which was down from $183,000 in 2009, and less than $172,000 budgeted from the revenue source.

“That one was year-round,” Dingman said. “It’s a pre-existing sales tax. That goes straight into our general fund revenues. It’s falling behind. We expected the half-cent sales tax to bring in around $170,000. It was behind what we budgeted for revenue.”

The capital improvement half-cent collected about $124,000 from April through December. Those funds might be spent on roads, bridges, sidewalks or even purchasing vehicles.

“We expected the capital improvements sales tax to bring around $170,000 for the whole year, too,” Dingman said. “Hopefully it turns around and picks up from last year.”

A portion of the half-cent capital improvement tax will be used to rebuild Douglas County Road 1055 from U.S. Highway 56 to Douglas County N. 400 Road, which leads to the state fishing lake. The city will partner with the county on the project.

The project is already in the design phase. A portion of that road will be three lanes and sidewalks will be built on both sides of county road 1055. Dingman expects construction to start in 2012.

“The big one right now is the north Sixth Street project with the county,” Dingman said. “We won’t plan on doing much with the money, until we know what our obligations will be for that project.”

Meanwhile, the “quality of life” quarter-cent sales tax will be spent by the Baldwin City Council, but where is still up the air. The original plan called for the city to build hiking and biking trails, but the city was unable to obtain the grant for those trails.

“There are still several ideas where that money might be spent,” Dingman said. “Those include the library expansion and walking trail. The first priority was the walking trail, but we didn’t get that grant. So now we’re looking at other things on the list, like improved parking and restrooms at our parks. Combine that with the interest in the library expansion, and it’s going to suck up the fund pretty fast.”


khayes 7 years, 4 months ago

Out of curiousity I decided to look at the raw numbers of what sales tax was generated in 2009 versus 2010. The year 2009 was a base line 328,053.86 dollars without the sales tax increase. The year 2010 was collections of 349,609.77 with the sales tax increase, and breaking out the 9 months of higher tax to be accurate. This is an increase of only 21,555.91 dollars whereas we raised the rate by a .25%. Applying a little math to the situation, and if my calculations are correct then sales...raw sales to be taxed FELL by 13%.

What that means is that consumer consumption of products in Baldwin dropped by 13% from 2009 to 2010. Were not trading in this community like we used to and a drop of this magnitude is significant. This article is misleading and shows a major problem with the system. Were taxing more and the people are voting with there feet and shopping elsewhere...folks that is not good...

if sales in Baldwin would have remained stable then our sales tax revenue would have been a little over 393,664.63 for 2010. We can not tax our way out of this mess or finance trails or libraries by running customers out of town to buy products...


Bloggerboo 7 years, 4 months ago

Interesting, Ken. What this tells me is that the price of various products in this community is higher than elsewhere, and folks decided to save what money they could by shopping out of town. I'm talking mostly about places like the BC Market, Arrowhead, etc. I assume they aren't just greedy, but that the cost to run a business in this town is significantly more than in other areas. Also, Wal-Mart and the like can certainly charge less because they buy and sell in much greater quantities. So, it is my assumption that folks tightened their belts, in part, by traveling to Lawrence, Gardner, and Ottawa to do a good portion of their shopping.


khayes 7 years, 4 months ago

Precisely and by raising taxes although it is a small amount it has an effect. It damages the businesses struggling to survive here in town and until fuel costs rise to the point of making shopping out of town unfeasible then we will be in a downward spiral. Collecting more tax is not to be vaunted as a good thing if it means less shopping and thereby fewer viable businesses here in this city.


Slade 7 years, 4 months ago

All this "math" you guys are talking about here is making my head hurt...I'm running to Lawrence to buy some aspirin...

In all seriousness, Ken: What can be done around here to regenerate a little trust between our local government agencies? This talk in the article above about hiking trails and such is nice, but I would think that's much more a "want" than a "need".

It seems that something that is needed would be a road that connects our new school facilities to the greater community. I thought that Elm Street connector was in the original design, and that funds would be allocated, some matching from the city, to create an in-town access point for the new facilities. (I could completely be wrong about all this. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong!)

What can be done as a collaboration between our local government entities to make something like this happen at a minimal cost? Experience tells me you're pretty likely to do what you say you're going to do, so how do you feel about temporary variances to establish at least a gravel road (with an improved sidewalk) as a connector between the community and these new facilities. A project variance like this could have an established termination, of course, at which point the road may be improved to meet current code standards.

Is this temporary variance something you would consider for the community good?


khayes 7 years, 4 months ago

Slade..... You stole some of my thunder my friend. What I was going to propose was a joint project between the city and the school district to connect Elm street thru to 11th so we could eliminate the danger on 56 hwy to our children and further eliminate the need to do costly improvements to the intersection of 56hwy and lawrence avenue. Since all community members are concerned about the exposure on 56 hwy and i can attest to my own experiences that the school entrance and the lawrence st. 56 hwy intersection is a dice roll everytime you pull out on it, lets fix it. What makes sense is to tie the new schools INTO the street infrastructure. Take Elm west and connect to the schools.

And thank you for the compliments on getting things done. Yes I would support some sort of variance and joint effort to build Elm st. to connect to the city interior and get our traffic load down on the hwy. Now it would have made sense to rework 11th properly while it was gutted to accomplish this but that ship has sailed.

btw I heartily endorse your campaign for school board. I think you will do a magnificent job and I feel sorry for any school superintendent that crosses swords with you on budgets and numbers....:)


true_bulldog 7 years, 4 months ago

OK, Ken and Slade. I like both of you running. I think it's great. But if you keep patting each other on the back for this and that, I'm going to ask you to get a room.


NanCrisp 7 years, 4 months ago

The bottom line of all of these numbers and trends is that people have a finite pool of available funds. Whether you're talking about family budgets, city budgets, state or federal budgets, there are only so many dollars to go around. Even if the feds were to print more (and they are: i.e., "buying" treasuries), it would only reduce the value of each dollar rather than creating any additional wealth.

So, back to B.C. -- You raise taxes and people buy less because more of their $10 bill is going to taxes so less of it is going to food, the gas tank, etc. Most of us do not work in B.C., so we're already in K.C. or Lawrence and we can buy more with our $10 bill there, so we do that while we are in town instead of "loyally" bringing our $10 bill back to B.C. Too bad, so sad. We have to feed our families.

Now add the sky-high utility costs to this scenario. B.C. city "leaders" have led us all into an economic crisis far worse than it should have to be. Spending more than is available is a recipe for disaster at every level. Just trying to tell people that they should pony up more money does not magically make more money appear in their wallets. So which do you want, city "leaders": Shall we 1) buy local or 2) pay all these extra property taxes and utility costs? Because you absolutely canNOT have it both ways.

Some food for thought as you brazenly prepare to hit us up for a library expansion.


greyghost 7 years, 4 months ago

Case in point: Gas in Baldwin City is at an area high of $3.14/gallon. A few miles east of town (Edgerton), gas has been sitting at $2.97/gallon. This has been the case for about one week now.


greyghost 7 years, 4 months ago

BTW, thanks to Slade and Ken for making yourselves available to serve your community.


solo 7 years, 4 months ago

A library expansion would be a great thing for Baldwin if and when the funds are available. I have no problem with the city council discussing this possibility since that is why I voted for the sales tax increase in the first place. Please note I said "discussing the possibility"...discussion is an intregal part of planning for an event. I am all for discussion and planning for when the economic time is right. Obviously that time is not now and I am sure the city leaders know this.


ksrush 7 years, 4 months ago

So given the above scenario of Baldwin not being able to be competetive with surrounding communities, I would be interested in Kens view as to how to move Baldwin forward in the future - attracting new business, getting rid of our financial herpe ( power plant ) lowering other utility rates...

It is sad that you can spend gas money to drive to Lawrence, pick up the same things as you can in Baldwin and still come back money ahead. The overhead our local businesses have to pay in utility rates, shipping, labor ... I dont blame them for charging what they charge - that falls in part on the mismanagement by the City and the lack of interest in doing anything to move Baldwin forward.

For the record options have been presented to the City for years now as to alternatives for power providers, instead we got a 12 % rate hike over the next 2 years - nice


kermit 7 years, 4 months ago

A question for Ken Hayes: Do you regret your decision to bring a new power plant to Baldwin? Correct me if I am wrong but I believe you were mayor when that decision was made. In an earlier post it sounded like you were critical of the utility and the decision made to bring it to Baldwin. Did I misunderstand your comment?


khayes 7 years, 4 months ago

Kermit. To answer your question no I do not regret the decision to build a new power plant for one simple reason. We had no other alternative. In 2001 we were in a situation that our power supply was totally inadequate for the needs that Baldwin had at the time. If you recall the disasterous power events that occured just prior to my taking office when KCPL stuck us with a $700,000.00+ bill for energy they had to buy to replace the energy lost when the power plant in Kansas City exploded. We also had infrastructure problems that caused our services to fail in even a very moderate storm event. The power utility was in very bad shape both structurally and capacity wise.

Many people dont realize that we explored both options early in my term to either sell the utility or fix the utility. We tried very hard to sell it. Due to its condition and the monies needed to bring the utility up to a functional level no one...and I mean no one was interested in it.

To put it mildly we were stuck in the power business. No alternative existed except to build our way out of the inadequate system we had and to upgrade the power grid. Now that decision was what was best at the time. And I saw no other alternative to propose the construction of an adequate generation system. The city council at the time was involved in the decision and ultimately voted unanimously to build the new power plant. We also constructed a link to Ottawa to complete a power loop so that Baldwin was supplied from two directions instead of just the one line from Gardner. Through a lot of hard work by our electrical dept. we made the system a reliable, stable source of power. Unfortunately it cost a ton of money to fill in the neglect that had gone on for over 20 years to the utility.

I am not being critical of the utility at all. I am saying that its time to look at all options to make our utility costs more affordable and it needs to be done in a public forum. Our system is now a modern system of power delivery. So the questions I have for the utility are as follows.

  1. We have a modern system now, would any major power providers be interested in buying it now that it is a functional adequate system.

  2. If they are interested in purchase what will be the effect on our rates and on our service. IE if it takes 4 hours to be repaired in an outage then thats not acceptable, especially if our rates remain the same.

  3. If we indeed can not liquidate the utility then how can we make it operate more efficiently and cost effective. A through review of opeations and costs to make it more efficient.

I hope that explains my position on the power issue.


kermit 7 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for the history of the power plant and how it plays into the current situation. I appreciate you answering my question.


ksrush 7 years, 4 months ago

Ken in answer to your above reply

1 - Yes 1 prospective buyer and 1 willing to provide just power 2 - part 1 No , Part 2 possibly 3 - You can't

The fact the power debacle was done under your watch throws up many red flags. Talk is cheap and thats what politicians are good at.Nothing personal but Baldwin cant afford to keep moving backwards


khayes 7 years, 4 months ago


If I am reading your post correctly there are not one but two utilities or energy entities that are interested in our power grid? Do the current council members know about this? Because if they do not I think you should let them know as well as all of us as to who they are so that we can set about coming up with a solution to our utility rate problem. As a matter of fact would you please let us all know on here what you know on utilities that want to purchase. If it is indeed the case then we need to know.

I understand your comments related to me and your entitled to your opinion.


ksrush 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes the City has known since mid '08. I would suggest you ask Wagner or any of the lot why they have done nothing about the opportunity - getting a straight answer may be a different story.

Pretty frustrating to watch the city throw opportunity away.


Stacy Napier 7 years, 4 months ago

Sell it, then we can have reverse metering so that some of us can make up the loses. Sell the generators at auction and bill us the rest. We will all come out ahead in the long run.


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