Archive for Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lawrence city manager offers several cuts to proposed budget to hold the line on property taxes

July 12, 2011


A new round of cuts from Lawrence City Hall are being proposed just hours before commissioners meet this evening to approve a key part of the 2012 budget.

At stake may be whether city commissioners move forward with a new West Lawrence recreation center, purchase and rehabilitation of the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence, and future replacement of aging fire engines.

About 3 p.m. today, City Manager David Corliss released a new list of ways that the city could avoid a major property tax rate increase in 2012. Corliss’ original recommended budget called for an increase of 2.8 mills in the city’s property tax rate. The bulk of the increase — 1.7 mills — comes from a voter-approved expansion of the Lawrence Public Library. But the remaining increase of 1.1 mills was recommended to fund five additional police officers, and about $530,000 in compensation increases for city employees.

City commissioners at a Friday afternoon study session asked Corliss to look for ways to fund the pay raises and additional police officers without such a large increase in the mill levy. Under Corliss’ latest proposal, the mill levy increase for 2012 would be 1.9 mills instead of the 2.8 mills originally envisioned.

But in a memo, city leaders are warning that the cuts would have consequences. Among the cuts are:

• A permanent $200,000 reduction in parks and recreation funding. The memo says the cut would “substantially limit the ability of the Parks and Recreation Department and the city as a whole to take on new projects.” Projects that would be “difficult to sustain” include new recreation centers, new parks and trails, and the city’s acquisition of the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence. The city previously had agreed to participate in funding architectural work for the station. According to the memo, the city would not “be able to participate further nor seek ownership in the future.” The city also has been in discussion with Kansas University Coach Bill Self’s foundation about a public-private partnership to build a new West Lawrence recreation center. The memo casts concerns over whether that project would be allowed to move forward.

• A $300,000 reduction in what the city spends each year to replace aging fire equipment. As part of the infrastructure sales tax voters approved in 2008, the city agreed to spend about $500,000 of sales tax money each year to purchase new fire equipment. But the latest proposal would take that $300,000 of that $500,000 for fire equipment and spend it on street maintenance, another use allowed for as part of the election. The city then could reduce the amount of property tax dollars used to maintain streets by $300,000. That would allow the property tax mill levy to fall.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. Commissioners are scheduled to approve the maximum mill levy for 2012 budget.


notanota 6 years, 10 months ago

On property. I am myself a property owner.

notanota 6 years, 10 months ago

A pragmatic approach that doesn't assume we can run the government for free? No, Democrats don't seem to know what that is, either. I'm not a member of a political party.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. Although, I think we should pass on the recreation center and just update the current library.

Nathan Anderson 6 years, 10 months ago

People who don't own property pay through rent, goods and services. Justanobservation.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Yes, it is a form of double taxation.

As is the fact that we spend after tax income at a business, which gets taxed as income to the business, as well as sales tax.

The point is valid - where do you think that businesses get the money to pay their property taxes from?

conservative 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree completely with not taking over the station or adding to parks a recs. Still say that financing raises for public employees by raising taxes on wage earners who aren't getting increases and whose property isn't worth what it was when they bought it is not acceptable. the voters approved the sales tax increase to INCREASE street maintenance, not to allow the city to reduce their levels of maintence. If we're going to go back on that because of budget concerns then obviously we can go back on the idea of increasing the library and skip that tax increase also.

notanota 6 years, 10 months ago

Property tax value also declines when your property value declines. You can challenge your assessment if you find that it is in error.

Ann Hamil 6 years, 10 months ago

We could also not give 280K and free parking to a certain millionaire, or any other corporate welfare for that matter.

notanota 6 years, 10 months ago

I believe he's not getting the free parking anymore, but he is getting some other corporate welfare check for that building.

LogicMan 6 years, 10 months ago

Drop the raises -- be glad you have good jobs in these trying times.

And can they delay the library spending?

irvan moore 6 years, 10 months ago

they say they have flexibility in deciding what to go ahead with and what to pend, don't build the parking garage, solves lots of problems for the city and the taxpayers, bet you don't hear that idea floated by the commissioners.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 10 months ago

I am a serious endurance runner and even I have to say that using tax funds to build new trails and recreation centers in this economic crisis is asinine. In better times I would be one hundred percent behind that decision but right now, when basic services like FIRE PROTECTION are not being adequately funded is not the right time to spend money on luxury items. Spend on what our city needs, not what it wants. The city has a lot of fire engines that are beyond their expected life, replacing them should be a greater concern then building recreational centers or building trails (and yes, even funding raises for every city employee).

This is an economic crisis. Just like all of us private citizens the government needs to choose what is most important.

Currahee 6 years, 10 months ago

How about you just raise it by 20 mills, increase the city sales tax by 2% and call it good until 2015?

ResQd 6 years, 10 months ago

Laughing hysterically here! I'm not surprised they don't. I don't think they have anything better to do than figure out how to screw the taxpayers in this town. Give me the value of my property and I'll move!

Currahee 6 years, 10 months ago

Why? Don't you think that everyone in who works for the City of Lawrence deserve a nice, big salary? Don't you think it's worth it because this town is so special compared to other college towns?

In all seriousness, the city brushed the late fee fiasco with the water utility like it was nothing and the guy who headed the department just went NBD! (no big deal) after all, it's ONLY $150,000 a year. You have penny taxes meant to fund temporary projects expiring and the city wants to keep them for new projects.

Goodbye Lawrence. I'm never living here again.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Sell your house and leave.

The "value" of your property is what you can get for it from a buyer.

cowboy 6 years, 10 months ago

Are we really a green city or just pretenders ? Are Corliss's annual budget grenades just a smokescreen ?

Why do we pick up grass clippings every week from early spring till winter ? Could save a couple hundred thousand there

Why do we plant medians in west Lawrence then truck water to them for years ? Don't know what a 1 ton truck , gas , one or two operators cost but it aint cheap.

Why do we subsidize DTL , their landscaping , their advertising , their sprinkler systems . How many new jobs , and living wage jobs is downtown creating ?

Based on what results or economic projection , or new approach to luring companies , are we moving ahead with infrastructure and debt at the old Farmland property ? What expertise has Lawrence added into the devo group that can match "Go Topeka " . None , same ole defeatists with little expertise and fewer national connections.

How's that new pothole mogul spraying machine working out ? Half a mill for a machine that puts irregular bumps in the road.

Come on Corliss , get serious about your job and start earning the salary you collect.

BruceWayne 6 years, 10 months ago

Core-less and his multi million dollar toxic waste dump need to go.

makief 6 years, 10 months ago

Why are we spending more money on train depots, and more rec. centers when people are striving to keep the SRS in Lawrence open? Why don't we give the SRS in Lawrence one of our closed schools or let them rent it for $1 per year so that we can help the abused children, handicapped, and the poor? We don't need 2 trash pick ups per week. We can all have our own compost pile. Cut spending, don't try to increase it. While many are out of work , seeking to keep their houses, our city is out trying to spend on recreation and pay raises for the city employees while the poor are being sent out of town in cars they don't have with phones they don't have to Topeka where they can't get to. That's great. A few more meetings might help clear their brains as to what is really needed.

notanota 6 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence doesn't control SRS as a city. That's the state. We could offer them a closed school as an office, but I have a feeling Brownie or Sidekicky would come up with an excuse why that wouldn't work out.

Why is Lawrence spending money on rec centers and depots? Because that sort of spending creates jobs, and those pay raises will also be spent on local businesses and services. Perhaps some of those jobs could go to people that otherwise would be requiring SRS.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

SRS is state funded, but letting SRS rent a school building for a nominal fee is a good idea. How much was SRS paying for rent?

Alceste 6 years, 10 months ago

Collect the tax obligations of ex City Commissioner Lance Johnson who owns property; lives phat off of Gawd knows what....but doesn't pay his property taxes. I bet if that boy paid up what he owes everything would all get equal?????

"Everybody has to pay taxes. Even businessmen that rob and steal and cheat from people everyday, even they have to pay taxes." —

ljwhirled 6 years, 10 months ago

We decreased the mil levy by 1.5 mil in 2006 when times were good.

Now that times are not so good, we increase it 1.1. (the 1.7 doesn't count, that was a voter approved initiative)

We should just keep it constant and sock the surpluses away in good years (or pre-pay debt).

Same goes for the feds. If we had just left the tax rates in place in 1999 instead of cutting them, we wouldn't have to watch this stupid game of chicken at the federal level.

  1. Keep taxes constant and predictable.
  2. Eliminate all loopholes, tax incentives, tax credits. Everyone pays their fair share.
  3. Only tax funds above and beyond those necessary to sustain life. i.e. don't force a choice between bread and taxes, it is a-moral.
  4. Tax the super wealthy in a way that prevents the emergence of "landed gentry" (See Walton Family, Simons Family)
  5. Eliminate the "trust fund" method of avoiding inter-generational wealth transfers. (See Walton Family, Simons Family, Koch Family)
  6. Put in place a safety net that is sensible and kicks in automatically when there is a downturn. (This one looks good

Whew! With that solved NOW you sit back and discuss the philosophical issues of abortion, the death penalty, digital privacy, patent protection, fair use, energy policy............

kansasredlegs 6 years, 10 months ago

  1. Mil levy was decreased in good times due to over inflated real estate valuations. You paid same or more even though levy lower;
  2. Superwealthy - Waltons? Grandpa, John Boy, Mary Ellen, Jim Bob etc. were financially strapped, but not morally bankrupt like gov'ment today;
  3. "inter-generational wealth transfers" - if it's not your money, don't be telling others what to do with it when they die. If they want to set up their grandchildrens' grandchildren, none of your business.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

I like the idea of keeping rates even, and saving any surpluses for when times get tough.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

Is this a bad time to suggest the the Santa Fe train depot be a hub for the buses and taxis?

kernal 6 years, 10 months ago

The taxi company in Lawrence is privately owned, not city owned and we don't need a new hub for the city buses. Purchasing and maintaining the Santa Fe Depot is not a priority.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

I like to use available transportation when I travel. If someone could arrive by train or bus and pick up a taxi, we could encourage more travel to and from Lawrence. The more we learn to use mass transit, the more it will be used.

The city is planning a hub for city buses in front of the library. This is my suggested alternative. It would be an intermodal hub rather than just a hub for buses. Is there something wrong with private taxis driving by the train station two times a day or having a local phone in the station?

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

The General Operating Fund is the fund that accounts for most of the City’s service functions including police, fi re and medical, maintenance of parks and recreation facilities, building inspection, and code enforcement services. The General Operating Fund expenditures account for 44.1% of the total authorized budget expenditures for 2011. 2001 $73,620,038

The Library Fund finances the operation of the Lawrence Public Library. This fund represents 1.8% of the total City budget. 2011 $3,070,000

The Transportation Fund finances the operation of the public transportation system and represents 2.0% of the total City budget. 2011 $3,312,515

The Recreation Fund supports recreational programs and services. This fund receives 94.9% of its 2011 operating revenue from sources other than property taxes. The Recreation Fund represents 2.5% of the total City budget. 2011 $4,190,772

And you seriously want taxpayers to believe you have to raise property taxes by $500,000 to pay for raise for City employees? Seriously? Either that or fire, police, and road maintenance will be cut? I hope it won't come as a big surprise that most people think you all are full of crap.

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

ljwhirled (anonymous) says… "Now that times are not so good, we increase it 1.1. (the 1.7 doesn't count, that was a voter approved initiative)"

Why doesn't the 1.7% count? Taxpayers have to pay it and the City that spends it would disagree, it counts. Any property tax increases or decreases should be put on the ballot.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

The reason he's saying it doesn't count is that it's slated for the library project, and thus the revenue isn't available for normal city expenses.

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Waste Reduction and Recycling Specialist Position ID: IN-4071658108 Public Works Department Starting Salary: $16.95 to $25.35 Per Hour (Starting Salary Typically At Entry-Level of Pay Range)

Responsibilities: The Waste Reduction and Recycling (WRR) Specialist is responsible for performing a variety of technical and administrative tasks related to the waste reduction and recycling programs of the City of Lawrence. All WRR Specialists are cross-trained to work in all areas of the division. WRR Specialists work with program areas such as yard waste and compost programming, general recycling support, fibers recycling, hazardous waste disposal and so on. The incumbent will also provide outreach and educational activities to a variety of audiences and target groups. Under direction of the WRR Supervisor, the incumbent will coordinate assigned activities with other Public Works Department personnel, city departments/divisions and outside agencies.

Equivalent to a Bachelors degree in environmental sciences, solid waste management, education, public relations, public or business administration, or a related field. Two years of experience in waste reduction and recycling program management and development. Must possess, or have the ability to obtain, a valid driver's license. The successful candidate will also pass the background check, post-offer City physical and drug screen.

Health, Dental and Life Insurance: Single premium paid by the City. Various dependent coverage levels available. Vacation: 12 days per year (Plus 2 days Personal Leave) Holidays: 9 days per year Retirement: Kansas Public Employees Retirement System

Waste Reduction and Recycling Specialist for the City of Lawrence with a salary between $35,256/ year and $52,728/year. What is the word I am looking for .....

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

Ironic, that was the word, "A situation is often said to be ironic (situational irony) if the actions taken have an effect exactly opposite from what was intended. Descriptions or depictions of situational ironies, whether in fiction or in non-fiction, serve a communicative function of sharpening or highlighting certain discordant features of reality."

2002 6 years, 10 months ago

Forget raising property tax, raise sales tax by 1/2 to 1 percent and get some money from students that pay no taxes for the services provided.

lunacydetector 6 years, 10 months ago

since lawrence is so special, at every major highway entering town, make people pay a toll to visit.

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