City commissioners take another step toward raising property taxes.
Lawrence city commissioners took advantage of a new state law Tuesday night that allows them to raise property taxes if they are willing to go on record saying that's what they intend to do.
Kansas lawmakers this year allowed the so-called "property tax lid" to expire. That law prevented local governments from raising more money from property taxes in one year than they did the previous year.
In its place, the Legislature enacted a new law saying local governments could raise taxes but only if they adopted by affirmative vote an ordinance or resolution stating that they intend to raise taxes.
Tuesday night, commissioners unanimously accepted the first such ordinance for Lawrence, just after a public hearing on a proposed 2000 budget that includes a $1.8 million property tax increase.
Most of that increase -- $1.48 million -- would go into a new transportation fund to help pay for a new city bus system. Last month, commissioners hired JA Associates of Wichita to help plan and design that system.
But revenue increases also are projected for the four other city funds that receive property taxes: the general fund; bond and interest fund; recreation fund; and library fund.
Because of an increase in property valuation, the combined tax rate, or levy, of those four funds would go down next year. With the new tax for transportation, however, the city's total levy would increase about 8 percent this year to an estimated 24.512 mills.
That levy would be used to raise just over $12.1 million in property taxes, compared with $10.4 million in 1999. Total city spending from all revenue sources would grow more than 7 percent, from $78 million in 1999 to $84 million next year.
After hearing from only one member of the public during Tuesday night's budget hearing, commissioners approved the first reading of the ordinance authorizing the tax hike.
A separate ordinance adopting the budget will be heard on first reading next week, with final reading tentatively scheduled for Aug. 17.
-- Peter Hancock's phone message number is 832-7144. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.