Lawrence city commissioners received an omen of a possible property tax increase or cut in city services Monday during a study session on the 1993 budget.
The assessed valuation of property in Lawrence is up only slightly from last year, said City Manager Mike Wildgen. The property tax mill levy is based on the valuations.
Preliminary figures on the assesed valuation of property in Lawrence for 1992 show the valuation to be $269,801,682, roughly $5.5 million more than last year.
"I was hoping for more than that frankly," Wildgen said. "If it stayed there, it would be less than positive from my perspective."
Wildgen said he was disappointed in the relatively small growth.
"The higher the number, the greater the chance of being able to live in the existing mill levy from the city's perspective," he said.
Wildgen cautioned that the figures were only preliminary and that he expected the valuation to rise.
"I'm not trying to scare anybody. It's very early," he said.
Residents currently are taxed about 77 mills by the school district, 28 mills by the city, and 27 mills by the county.
Based on the preliminary figures, the increase between property valuation in 1992 and 1991 is smaller than in previous years.
The increase between 1990 and 1991 was a little more than $15.3 million. Between 1989 and 1990, valuations increased about $14.8 million.
Figures took a major jump between 1988 and 1989 due to reappraisal of property.
There are a number of ways to deal with a shortfall in assesed valuation, Wildgen said. The city could look to other revenue sources, such as sales tax, to make up the difference.
"Or you could cut expenditures. We'd have to say we can't spend what we want to, maybe we don't need this capital equipment or we have to cut this program," he said.
"But if I think these are important enough types of things, I can recommend a raise in the mill levy," Wildgen said.
Wildgen warned not to look for any city service increases in the 1993 budget.
"We're keeping everything about constant," he said. "You won't see any hiring."
The city's mill levy in 1992 is 28.17 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 in assesed valuations.