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Archive for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

City approves 2012 budget with four new police officers, 1.88 mill levy increase

August 2, 2011

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A plan to add four new police officers to the city’s force overcame last-minute objections as Lawrence city commissioners approved a 2012 budget and a property tax increase Tuesday evening.

City commissioners narrowly rejected a proposal by City Commissioner Bob Schumm that would have reduced a planned expansion of the police force. Schumm lobbied for the proposal in order to reduce the property tax mill levy needed to fund the 2012 budget.

But commissioners balked.

“As much as I’m tempted to keep the mill levy flat, I think this is an occasion where we are pretty far behind already in this area,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell.

Cromwell and City Commissioners Hugh Carter and Mike Dever agreed to move ahead with the four new police officer positions, plus funding for an existing detective position that currently is funded by an expiring federal grant. Schumm and City Commissioner Mike Amyx voted to move ahead with just two new police officer positions, plus the detective.

The action means the city’s property tax rate will increase by 1.88 mills in 2012. The bulk of the increase comes from a voter-approved expansion of the Lawrence Public Library that will add 1.7 mills to the budget. The remaining 0.18 mill will fund the police officer positions. Schumm’s proposal would have allowed the mill levy to rise only by the 1.7 mills set aside for the library.

The vote brought to an end a series of proposals that started flying around City Hall as the 2012 budget entered the homestretch. Schumm made his proposal to reduce the size of the police expansion on Monday. Carter, before Tuesday’s meeting, countered with a proposal to lay off three employees in the city’s planning and development services department, if city commissioners were intent on cutting 0.18 mill from the city budget, which amounts to about $4 a year in taxes on a $200,000 home. Carter said it was critical for the full police expansion to move forward.

City commissioners ended up having little appetite to discuss layoffs in the planning and development services department. Both Cromwell and Dever expressed their support for the full police expansion before Carter could ask for a vote on the layoffs.

“We have a new police chief, and he has stated that his professional opinion is that we need more police officers,” Dever said. “It is difficult to raise the mill levy, but we have to remain committed to making Lawrence a better community.”

In total, the 1.88 mill levy increase will amount to an extra $43.24 per year in taxes on a $200,000 home.

Commissioners also approved several other fee and rate increases as part of the 2012 budget. They include:

• A 2 percent increase in water rates and a 2 percent increase in sewer rates.

• A 2.7 percent increase, or about 40 cents per month, for residential trash service.

• A $7 increase in the city’s Municipal Court fee. The new fee, which represents the court costs that are added onto a ticket, will total $60.

Commissioners gave preliminary approval to an increase in the city’s system development charges, which are one-time fees charged to new construction that hooks onto the city’s sewer and water systems. The increase is set to be $340, or an 11 percent hike. Members of the city’s building and real estate industry have asked for the increase to be delayed a year in order to give the industry a chance to recover from the economic downturn.

A majority of commissioners said they were leaning toward approving the increase but said they wanted more information from city staff about what the impacts would be of delaying the increase for a year.

Technically, all matters related to the city budget must receive one more vote before becoming final. Commissioners will approve the budget on second reading at their meeting next week.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

"How will you afford the extra $4 per year??????"

How many $4 a year have been passed on to taxpayers over the past 20 years? From USD 497,City Hall and the county without voter approval?

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Kasha 2 years, 8 months ago

The City Commissioners, a sorry lot, have no hesitation about voting themselves a raise, and apparently seem to think budgeting four new police officers will make things all better. NOT! I suggest the police force already in place work their shifts instead of (as I see frequently) parking under the trees in the shade at the north end of the Continuing Ed. building parking lot on St. Andrews Drive near Bob Billings Parkway. Occasionally, two police cars are parked in opposite directions so the police can chat while inside their vehicles. Why do our tax dollars pay for naps, coffee and doughnuts!

And does Bob Schumm really think his proposal to reduce the mill levy would make a significant difference in the budget? This guy should never have been elected, and now we are stuck with him -- even as our next Mayor. Good God! When will voters vote for the person, not the political party.

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toe 2 years, 8 months ago

We are going broke, but we insure the police state is well fed.

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nut_case 2 years, 8 months ago

Two percent...two percent...two percent more. Wages going down, taxes AND debit going up.

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hitme 2 years, 8 months ago

Someone else must be running Cromwell's business. If he made decisions like he does on the commission, he'd already be out of business. I don't think anyone will be surprised when we hear that he files for bankruptcy.

He wouldn't dream of trying to live within a budget, but he'd raise separate taxes to give raises and hire more employees.

Dammit man, show some backbone and demand some accountability. Do your job!

...and Dever, wow, what a ding dong.

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heygary 2 years, 8 months ago

We need a branch of the TEA Party here in Lawrence ... we vote these liberal smucks in to office and they always find sound rationale for spending more money. DON'T you get the message ... we are broke! KNock it off!

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 8 months ago

We all know how much you miss President Bush, merrill. He's been out of the White House for a couple of years now. At some point you have to pick up and start living in the present.

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panzermike007 2 years, 8 months ago

Oh God! Merrill the magic cut and paster is at it again! Give it a rest, Merrill!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

The housing industry is busy talking city commissioners and city out of more of our tax dollars as if the super inflated economy is right back where it was just before the housing industry and the banking industries put the economy in the tank. Forget it!!! How forgetful can politicians be.

That entire fraudulent exercise was neither sustainable nor legal.

All of those super inflated prices on new residential with financial institutions saying yes to loans no matter what. Why would anyone want this insanity back? Tons of people in Lawrence,Kansas owe more on their homes than market value will bring. This is not going to correct itself anytime in the near future or maybe far away future.

Yet last night there was all this talk about spending $100's of millions of dollars to prepare for the future housing market. Yes rate increases are on the way to prepare for this reckless thinking. I say if the housing industry wants this $100 million sewage treatment plant they should pay for the whole thing = one smart impact fee. Then the housing industry passes that cost on to buyers of the new homes instead of on to YOU and ME!

The housing market is going to be slow compared to the "boom town economy" for many years. That simply was a bogus market. In fact I say the slow down trend may in fact be the real market. Ask ourselves why would anyone want to pay for a home one day only to be worth less next week? There are still millions of foreclosed homes on the market and people losing their jobs every day adding to the millions upon millions upon millions of unemployed created by the republican party twice:

The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion) http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

Wall Street Home Loan Bank Fraud on Consumers under Bush/Cheney http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

Only Three Financial Institutions were Truly at Risk for $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

Those damn white collar private industry people love fraud.

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wwwd 2 years, 8 months ago

First. OK...that wasn't such a big deal...

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