Archive for Friday, July 14, 2006

Commissioners not sold on raising tax rate

Interim city manager suggested mill levy increase

July 14, 2006


The future of your city tax bill is hanging in the balance.

A majority of city commissioners Thursday said they were seeking ways to keep the city's property tax rate stable, despite a recommendation from interim City Manager David Corliss that it should be increased by nearly a mill.

"I don't really relish having a mill levy increase at all," said City Commissioner Mike Rundle, who along with Mayor Mike Amyx and Commissioner David Schauner said they were not ready to commit to a mill levy increase to fund city operations in 2007.

The other two commissioners - Boog Highberger and Sue Hack - expressed less optimism that the budget could be cut enough to avoid a mill levy increase.

"We reduced the mill levy last year, and in retrospect we probably shouldn't have," Hack said. "What this would do is bring it back up to where we were prior to 2006."

It would take approximately $700,000 to $800,000 in cuts to Corliss' recommended budget to keep the property tax rate at current levels. But no commissioners made any recommendations Thursday on what cuts should be made. Instead, commissioners said they planned to begin making changes to the recommended budget during a session at 7 p.m. Monday at Fire Station No. 5, 1911 Stewart Ave.

Corliss has recommended the 0.98 mill levy increase in large part to help fund approximately $2 million in additional street maintenance in 2007. All of the commissioners have supported a spending increase for additional street maintenance.

"I'm not quite to the point of being able to commit to a mill levy increase, but I don't know if there is $700,000 to be cut from this budget or not," Schauner said.

There also may be efforts by commissioners to add money to other parts of the budget. Hack said she likely would make a pitch at Monday's meeting to add dollars for economic development and to further review funding levels for several social service agencies.

"I do think we're underfunding our job-creation efforts," Hack said.

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If city commissioners approve Corliss' recommended budget - with the 0.98 mill increase - it likely would increase the property taxes on an average Lawrence home by about $50 to $60 per year. That's because in addition to the mill levy increase, most Lawrence homes are expected to rise in value by 5 percent to 7 percent, which also will increase the amount of taxes residents will owe. A mill is one dollar in property tax for every $1,000 of assessed value.

The city's tax increase would be in addition to proposed increases in the franchise fees the city receives as part of every electric, telephone and cable bill in the city. In total, those increased fees would cause utility bills of Lawrence residents to rise by 5.75 percent. Commissioners didn't make any proposals Thursday to scrap those fee increases.


Jay_Z 10 years ago

"$250,000 for a fire sprinkler incentive program that would allow Massachusetts Street property owners to apply for a city grant to cover 75 percent of the costs to install a sprinkler system."

What?! Should the city really be funding sprinkler systems for Mass. St. businesses?

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

Should the city be throwing more money to the Chamber of Commerce for job creation? I think a review of their past performance would be more in line and think about bringing job creation to a city controlled position so the taxpayers can keep a watchful eye. The chamber so far as I know answers to no one but themselves.

Commissioner Hack may have a conflict of interest considering her position within the Chamber of Commerce? Perhaps she should resign as a commissioner.

I vote no on more money to the Chamber.

Our property tax bills appear to be supporting undeclared mill levy increases annually as it is. The county commissioners have an additional mill levy increase in store for us as well to support their development efforts outside of Lawrence city limits.

You would think Douglas County taxpayers would be in line for tax credits or rebates considering the tax base expansion created by thousands upon thousands of new homes since 1985. What happened?

lunacydetector 10 years ago

merrill, it's called Horizon 2020. that's what happened.

tir 10 years ago

What about 19th Street between Massachusetts and Iowa? It's in terrible shape and needs repaving.

monkeyhawk 10 years ago

¢ An increase of street maintenance funds from $4 million to about $6 million.

Yes, should be a priority.

¢ $250,000 for Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center's WRAP.

No, parent should pay for their own kids health care, not me.

¢ $250,000 infrastructure incentives fund to assist companies looking to expand or relocate in Lawrence.

In addition to abatements? As long as we have the current commission, not many businesses will be willing to locate here. In fact, how many have left over the past few years?

¢ $80,000 for two new police sergeants to work as "neighborhood resource officers" .

Table it.

¢ $70,000 for a new city auditor position to do "performance audits" of city programs.

Numbers, like studies, can be interpreted many different ways.

¢ $70,000 for a new economic development coordinator ...

Would this be a smart growth coordinator?

¢ $250,000 for a fire sprinkler incentive program ..

Absolutely NOT. How many buildings are owned by Compton and other super rich? You want all taxpayers to subsidize their businesses?

¢ $1.6 million in improvements to Kasold Drive from Peterson Road to the Kansas Turnpike.


¢ $500,000 to consolidate entrances and improve traffic flow along 23rd Street.

Just time the lights and build the SLT.

¢ $450,000 to repave Iowa Street from Yale Road to Sixth Street.


¢ $450,000 to reconstruct the intersection of North Second and Locust streets.


¢ $700,000 to add sidewalks on both sides of the road to new bridges..

Ridiculous cost. One sidewalk, if any, will suffice for half the cost.

¢ $250,000 in improvements to Clinton Parkway and Fifth and Alabama streets.

What kind of improvement for CP? How much did we pay for the new traffic inhibiting barrier?

¢ $200,000 for playground equipment,..

No, let them buy that stuff from the 2 bonds that were passed.

¢ $300,000 for planning and partial construction of a new trail along the abandoned railroad line in East Lawrence.


¢ $50,000 to improve a skateboard park in Centennial Park.


¢ $150,000 to upgrade traffic signals at various intersections.


¢ $600,000 to replace a 14-year-old fire engine.

Does it still work? I drive a 14 year old car that is just fine.

¢ $65,000 to improve runways at Lawrence Municipal Airport.

Not a large price tag. I would consider it.

¢ $250,000 to fill gaps within the city's sidewalk system and build traffic-calming devices ..

More sidewalks for the citizens to maintain AND more traffic inhibition? No.

¢ $200,000 to cover a portion of the construction costs of George Williams Way in northwest Lawrence.

Let developers pay for them.

KsTwister 10 years ago

With the current pork projects eliminated, we should be revolting for a decrease. Cut this from the 2006 Budget and you have more than needed. For those who missed the post last night: Eliminate the 42k salary for the Lawrence,Inc Administrator -that what city managers are for. 50k for homeless services(which may prove hopeless as more move here from Colorado-see new immigrant laws for Colorado) Eliminate $20k per downtown building for sprinkler systems. Eliminate 90k per year for downtown flower budget Downsize the Recreation Fund, with authorized expenditures of $3,378,792 Eliminate the The Special Gas Tax Fund with authorized expenditures of $2,866,371 because it is not being used to improve streets and curbs it was established for. And what are we paying annually for all the art scultures-2% of the annual buget! Pull the $600k out the legal fund and keep your nose out of un-winable lawsuits. Here, you look.

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

$300,000 for planning and partial construction of a new trail along the abandoned railroad line in East Lawrence. YES

$70,000 for a new economic development coordinator YES if higher salary jobs is the ONLY objective

$250,000 infrastructure incentives fund to assist companies looking to expand or relocate in Lawrence. (What type of companies and salaries should be a contingency)

$250,000 to fill gaps within the city's sidewalk system and build traffic-calming devices previously approved by the City Commission but not yet funded ((YES do sidewalks first as it would be helpful for wheel chair folks and we know 13th has consistent wheel chair traffic. )))

$150,000 to upgrade traffic signals at various intersections.(( If this means replacing working traffic signals I say absolutely not. Lawrence is notorious for this activity)))

conservative 10 years ago

I must be missing some math here. They say a 50 to 60 dollar increase to the average resident? But it's a dollar per 1000 assessed value of your homes. Last I checked the average home price in Lawrence wasn't 50,000 to 60,000.

craigers 10 years ago

No increase. I wish I could just go to my boss everytime my expenses were higher than I thought and get a pay raise. Too bad the city doesn't understand what a budget is and will just increase our taxes when they need more.

Jackson 10 years ago

Budget-slashing at Parks & Rec. is long overdue. This dept. seems to have an unlimited budget - funded by (outrageous) water bills.

It's time for grass instead of labor-intensive flower beds.

Godot 10 years ago

Ditto, Monkeyhawk!!!

I question why the city manager's budget is being doubled, too.

monkeyhawk 10 years ago

Godot, I think they want to lure the Aspen city manager away. Or was it the Berkeley city manager?

Fred Sherman 10 years ago

conservative - yes you are missing some math. The tax bill is based on the mill rate multipled by the assessed value, not the appraised value of properties. In Kansas, residential properties are assessed at 11.5% of their appraised value. Commercial and industrial are assessed at 25% of appraised value.

conservative 10 years ago

Quint, thanks, would have been nice to have that tidbit spelled out in the article.

Godot 10 years ago

Right, Marion, but call it a TAX FORCE.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"Quint, thanks, would have been nice to have that tidbit spelled out in the article."

Wouldn't have made much difference on this forum-- you'd still have Marion and others spouting their own versions of disinformation.

jayhawks71 10 years ago

Conservative, it is spelled out in the article.

"A mill is one dollar in property tax for every $1,000 of ASSESSED value."

If you don't know the difference between assessed and appraised valued (like Marion) then perhaps you should do some research; don't expect the Journal-World to define every word in the article.

THey didn't spell out this one either: A "percent" is a part in one-hundred; for example 1 cent is 1 percent of a dollar.

Scott Drummond 10 years ago

"It's time for grass instead of labor-intensive flower beds."

Better yet, beds of native vegetation that will require little to no maint. Grass needs mowing. Some good native Kansas grasses, shrubs and flowers would be a welcome relief.

jayhawks71 10 years ago

In Marion's defense (mark this day on your calendar!) he did say "appraised" in his post (end defense), so in Marionian tradition he either 1) mixed up the two terms or 2) slipped that in, expecting ignorance on the topic, to spout his own version of disinformation.

conservative 10 years ago


Assessed = To estimate the value of (property) for taxation.

according to

Why should one assume that the city doesn't estimate it for the full value of the property? Or are you just looking for an argument?

jafs 10 years ago

All "development" expenditures should be halted immediately. After we have found a way to maintain infrastructure and provide city services within our budget of $10million/month, then we can consider extras. Personally, it seems to me that we should be able to do that. And, I agree that only businesses that will provide full-time jobs with decent salaries and good benefits should get any sort of consideration from the city.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years ago

mmmmm how many days can the ljw run the same story?? forever.

justthefacts 10 years ago

Who do we contact - directly - to voice our opinion on the proposed new budget and/or raise in our taxes??? Names, addresses, e-mails, phone #'s...... Please.

I don't know about anyone else, but my budget cannot take one more thing. Not without me getting a 2nd job (good luck finding one). I don't care HOW GOOD the cause might be (to some), the bottom line is that we cannot continue to pay for more and more things (privately or publicly) while our income's do not rise at the same rate and our buying power continues to diminish. Something has got to give, and soon!

justthefacts 10 years ago

May have answered my own question: I don't know if or how much this is actually effective, but the above link takes you to the "Feed back" email route for talking Lawrence city officials..... In case you have an opinion on any topic.

Rationalanimal 10 years ago

$50 here and $50 there. Pluck a feather here, pluck a feather there. Like Ronald Reagan so aptly stated, sometimes the government has to realize there are just no more feathers to pluck from the golden goose.

Isn't it easier to shave a couple mill off the Ritz Carlton Library. Maybe go with stainless fixtures instead of imported antique brass.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

"Like Ronald Reagan so aptly stated, sometimes the government has to realize there are just no more feathers to pluck from the golden goose."

But he kept right on plucking, anyway.

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

Comments to:

mikeamyx515@hotmail.comp>> dschauner@sunflower.comp>>

Mike Rundle

Sue Hack

Boog Highberger

jayhawks71 10 years ago

Conservative, If you own property you would know the difference (and even if you don't you should know the difference). If you don't own property, it shouldn't matter too much to you. Do you conclude that legalese is in If so you should be questioning why there is a MILL levy when most people don't own "a building equipped with machinery for grinding grain into flour or meal." That is what defines as a mill. Stand up for your rights conservative and show them that you own no such property!

Marion, The problem with your "spin" is that you tried to lead people to conclude that the mill levy was based on the entire value of a home, which you stated

"The MEDIAN residential apparised value in Lawrence, Kansas is ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS and the KOMMISSION and the "INTERIM MANAGER" KNOW IT!"

the apparent purpose of your post was that based on 160k, an estimated increase of 50-60 dollars was preposterous, as exemplified in your words:

"Let's set up a TASK FORCE to REVIEW the projected $50-60 increase in LLIGHT OF THE TRUTH!"

Finally, you make a point of the appraiser determining the price point for the assessed value. While this might be true, the increase in the mill levy is a function of the assessed value, which is only a portion of the appriased value! This isn't semantics, its dollars and sense [sic]!

Godot 10 years ago

"This comment is a little late, but I didn't have time to post earlier. I agree with Merrill's first post regarding Sue Hack being an employee of the Chamber of Commerce AND a City Commissioner. This is a conflict of interest. She should choose to do one or the other- not both."

Maybe you are right; and being an attorney for the KHDE, which could have involvement with city matters, is a conflict of interest; and being a lobbyist for the teachers' association, which has input on negotiations for the school district, and therefore has impact on decisions the city commission makes, is a conflict, too.

Yeah! That gets rid of three of them.

Godot 10 years ago

And Barbara Ballard, being a university administrator, has a conflict of interest in being a state legislator since the legislature determines funding for the university.

This is great. Let's clean up all the conflict of interest situations.

Rationalanimal 10 years ago

bozo_the_political_clown_on_this_bus earlier said:

""Like Ronald Reagan so aptly stated, sometimes the government has to realize there are just no more feathers to pluck from the golden goose."

But he kept right on plucking, anyway"

Although a trite statement, it is simply not supported by facts. The facts show the marginal tax rates dropped to all time lows during the Reagan years. More wealth held in the hands of private citizens was created during Reagan's administration (which says a lot in light of the hyper-inflation during the tax-and-take-prozac Carter years) than any prior to that time. Perhaps a drive by posting with a trite comment is easier than posting something containing factual substance. That seems to run rampant on here. Below is a graph which should be very easy for you understand. Apparently our City is of the tax-and-take-prozac philosophy.

tkmoore 10 years ago

Keep taxes going up I say because some time there will be a breaking point for the mid income people and they will all move out then what are you going to do? Lets get more $9.00 an hour jobs now thats a good one when the avg rent in this town with a family of 4 is about $800 to $1000 a month. I have another lets dig up mass street again next year this time replace all the trees and sidewalks. Get real this city wastes alot of money on stuff we don't need.

tkmoore 10 years ago

I forgot this one, lets buy the old farmland plant and make a park out of it. Let it go and let some one else do it and FOOT THE BILL

Godot 10 years ago

tk, how prescient you are. Note the the mention in today's edition of a closed meeting the commissioners are having on Monday to consider "property purchase."

Can we all say "Farmland"?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years ago

And according to Dolph, the smart thing to do with that land, after buying it and paying for the cleanup, would be to give it to K-State.

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