property tax increase
With little fanfare and almost no debate, Lawrence city commissioners gave final approval Tuesday night to an ordinance authorizing an increase in the city's property tax rate.
The action was required under a new state law adopted this year at the same time lawmakers allowed the old property tax lid to expire. Now, local governments are allowed to raise property taxes at will, as long as they take an affirmative vote to pass an ordinance or resolution authorizing the tax increase.
The proposed 2000 budget for the city of Lawrence calls for raising $12.1 million in property taxes, about $1.8 million more than it collected last year. Nearly all of that results from a new levy that will raise $1.5 million for a new public transportation system.
Passing the tax-increase ordinance was a prelude to final adoption of the budget. Commissioners heard first reading of the actual budget ordinance Tuesday night. Final action is scheduled for next week.
City to seek bids
on new aquatic center
City officials soon will be taking bids on construction of a new indoor aquatic center adjacent to Free State High School.
Under a schedule approved Tuesday night, city commissioners hope to select a general contractor by about Oct. 1. Construction would begin soon after that, with the aquatic center tentatively slated to open in the spring of 2001.
for 23rd Street study
City commissioners want to hire a Johnson County firm to perform a corridor and access management study for 23rd Street between Iowa Street and the eastern city limits.
City commissioners agreed Tuesday night to negotiate a contract with TranSystems Corp., the same firm that recently completed a bicycle compatibility study for the city.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said the study would result in policy guidelines the city can use to control access to 23rd Street, possibly by limiting the number of curb cuts that give access to private property.
One of the problems with 23rd Street east of Iowa, Wildgen said, is that there are too many uncontrolled access points from commercial parking lots and streets with no traffic lights. That makes it nearly impossible to synchronize signals or maintain orderly traffic flow, he said.
Commission clears path
for new nature park
A 40-acre tract still in its pristine condition will become the centerpiece of a new nature preserve near Free State High School, if the city can negotiate to buy an additional 20 acres connecting to the land.
City commissioners on Tuesday voted to accept the donation of the 40 acres from Robert and Betty Lichtwardt. A condition of the gift is that the city must agree to keep the land in its natural state, without adding buildings, utility lines or paved trails.
Commissioner Dave Dunfield called the donation "an extraordinary gift," and city manager Mike Wildgen likened it to the acquisition of Centennial Park.
The nature preserve would be the second major addition to the city's park system in northwest Lawrence since the addition of a new high school in the area sparked a surge of growth in the area.
Before the deal is completed, however, the city must negotiate to buy about 20 acres extending from the northwest corner of the nature preserve. That land, estimated to cost up to $360,000, would provide access to the park off Folks Road and area for parking.
City commissioners rejected two proposed residential developments Tuesday night, one on the far west end of town and one in the southeast corner.
On a 3-2 vote, commissioners sent a final plat for Legend Trail Addition at 15th Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway back to the city-county planning commission for further study. Developers proposed only one access point off 15th Street into the isolated 41-lot development, but a majority of commissioners wanted more connecting links, possibly through pedestrian paths, to surrounding neighborhoods.
Commissioners Jim Henry, Mike Rundle and David Dunfield voted to send the plan back for further study. Commissioners Erv Hodges and Marty Kennedy voted against that motion.
Later in the meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to reject the proposed annexation of 10 acres near 26th Street and O'Connell Road, saying there were not adequate sewer mains in that area to serve the proposed development of 31 new duplexes.