Streets won't get as much city funding as once thought, but Lawrence residents won't be paying as much in property taxes as city leaders once projected either.
A new citywide 1-cent sales tax also doesn't appear to be imminent.
In a flurry of last-minute moves, city commissioners late Tuesday night unanimously approved a budget that holds the line on the city's property-tax mill levy, agreed to scale back an aggressive street maintenance program and at least temporarily shelved discussion of a new sales tax.
Commissioners approved the $138 million budget after agreeing to pare back the much-discussed street maintenance program from $6 million to $5.3 million. Commissioners agreed to make the cut, in part, in an effort to balance their desire for more street repairs with a desire to keep the property tax rate stable. The city's current street maintenance program is about $4 million.
"This won't do as much as recommended, but it will do a hell of a lot more than we have ever done in the past," Mayor Mike Amyx said. "The streets will be in a condition that the traveling public won't have their teeth jarred out."
The change to the street maintenance program allowed the mill levy to remain at its current rate of 26.375 mills. A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
Several city commissioners said it was important to keep the mill levy stable because property tax bills likely still will rise for most people because the average increase in property values is expected to be near 6 percent.
"I would really like to see the message be that we're at least holding the line on the mill levy," City Commissioner David Schauner said. "Most people will still see a 6 percent increase in their taxes, and most people did not receive a 6 percent raise."
Commissioners also briefly discussed a proposal from Amyx that called for a new 1-cent sales tax that would have funded a variety of infrastructure issues and provided property tax relief. Amyx did not push the idea Tuesday, saying that he thought the plan probably didn't have the necessary political support on the commission at this time.
"I do have to say that I think the plan I have given you is a very good plan," Amyx said. "I think it is one we will consider in the future."
In addition, the 2007 budget includes several rate increases. Those are:
¢ a water rate increase that will average 4 percent.
¢ a sewer rate increase that will average 9 percent.
¢ a sanitation rate increase that will average 2 percent.
¢ an increase in the electric, cable and telephone franchise fees ranging from 1 percent to 2 percent.