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Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2012

Commission may approve 2013 budget this week

August 5, 2012

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Lawrence’s police force will grow a bit, and so will the city’s property tax rate, under a $174 million budget that is up for approval by city commissioners Tuesday.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting will consider approving the city’s 2013 operating budget, which includes a plan to add three new police officers and additional funding for police equipment.

“I am disappointed we haven’t been able to accomplish more on the police front right now, but that is the reality of the current economy,” said City Commissioner Hugh Carter.

Earlier in the budget session, leaders with the Lawrence Police Department presented more than $40 million worth of staff additions and facility improvements that they proposed be funded over a multi-year period.

Commissioners, though, have not yet pursued creating a multi-year funding plan for the department. Instead, commissioners focused on keeping the city’s property tax mill levy relatively stable.

The 2013 budget proposes a mill levy increase of 0.92 of a mill. A mill is $1 in property taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. A home with a market value of $200,000 would pay an extra $21.16 per year in property taxes under the proposed budget.

The higher property tax rate is expected to generate about $769,000 in new tax revenue for the city. The budget proposes increases of:

• $300,000 for equipment expenditures for the police department

• $275,000 to hire and equip three additional police officers

• $55,000 for increased materials for pavement markings for city streets

• $75,000 for a city-operated economic development incentives fund

• $20,000 to provide supplemental pay to city employees who are serving on active military duty and are making less in their military job than they do in their city position

• $44,600 in new funding to the Lawrence Community Shelter and Hearthstone

The city’s proposed budget also includes $6 million in new debt to begin building roads and other infrastructure at the former Farmland Industries site in eastern Lawrence. The city plans to convert the property, which covers more than 400 acres, into a new business park.

Traditionally any new debt issuance above $5 million requires the city to increase its property tax mill levy. But City Manager David Corliss said the city is able to add the Farmland debt without increasing property taxes because it plans to create special assessments on the property, which will be paid by new businesses locating in the business park.

City funds, however, will be used to make the debt payments until those businesses materialize. Corliss said the city will use reserve funds to make the debt payments in the interim.

Commissioners will consider the budget at their meeting at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

1994 Sales tax money

It is time in my estimation to revisit this 1994 sales tax and ask voters how elected officials should be spending this money. For any group of politicians to believe that voters blindly trust politicians with their tax dollars is not real and hasn't been for at least 50 years.

Bring the voting taxpayers back into the process after all we are the largest group of stakeholders in Lawrence,Kansas.

"Can the city approve this “Field House” project without a public vote?" Yes they can.... Which could easily become $40 million or more. This project will need a very large advertising budget.

However there is nothing stopping them from putting this matter on the upcoming ballot which I believe is the ethical approach.

Politicians believe because they have the authority to spend tax dollars anyway they desire, no questions should be asked and voters should simply trust their motivations. I know very few taxpayers who accept this position. It would not matter who the politicians might be.

This 1994 sales tax is not dedicated to the park department in spite of the fact a large chunk has been funding park department projects. This money could be spent to rehab our elementary schools and remove the portable class rooms that has been talked about for years thereby avoiding a tax increase or a bond issue.

This money could be spent to rehab the library thereby eliminating the tax increase as I introduced to the city commission perhaps a year ago. The LJW more or less supported this proposal in an editorial. In fact 5%-10% of this sales tax could be dedicated to the library for operations still leaving 90% for other uses that benefit all taxpayers.

This money could build this community a nice Vo-Tech center. College grads could improve their opportunities for employment. High school grads could improve their opportunities for employment. Laid off employees could improve their opportunities for employment. Anyone seeking to broaden their horizons could improve their opportunities.

Providing a nice Vo-Tech would be expanding on the higher education industry. Investing further into the industry of higher education would be a solid investment. Students are good for economic growth and they love Lawrence,Kansas.

Committing tax dollars to the "field house project" is likely on the upcoming city commission agenda. Which I believe is rushing it considering the amount of concern being voiced from just about every corner in Lawrence,Kansas.

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Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Note the tax increase in this budget. How many tax and fee hikes are coming around the bend in the coming year?

How many in the past year and the year before etc etc etc? They add up quickly.

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jmadison 2 years ago

Lawrence City Budget was $101 million in 2002. Budget for 2013 $174 million. How does that compare with the rate of inflation and with the change in population of Lawrence over that period? Have the taxpayers' wages and property values kept up with the increases in spending?

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years ago

Cities all over the country are either looking at bankruptcy or have already filed. One of the first indicators of approaching bankruptcy is when the cities start to raise user fees. We are seeing this in Lawrence in the form of the new trash service and water and sewer rates. The spending has to quit. There is not enough money to support all these feels good things like the new library, empT, LAC, Community Theatre, Henderson drunk paradise shelter and the rest of the stuff that is on our plates.

The current leadership needs to be replaced from top to bottom. I don't think we need over 700 city employees either. Tax relief is what will bring new people and business to town.

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