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Archive for Monday, July 16, 2012

Douglas County Commission approves budget for publication that leaves property taxes alone

July 16, 2012

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After about two hours of discussion Monday morning, the Douglas County Commission passed a budget that will require no increase or decrease in property taxes for next year. Much of the discussion was a rehash of previous differences in funding priorities among the three-member commission.

Related document

2013 Douglas County Budget ( .PDF )

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Agency funding from the County

The County Commission's public budget for 2013 includes a few changes to social service agency funding. Here's an overview of how much each agency gets and how things changed (no agency got a cut).

Commissioner Jim Flory, a Republican, wanted to cut the Heritage Conservation Fund by $250,000 and the economic development fund by $100,000. That would have allowed the county to maintain funding for social service agencies and add new jobs in the appraiser’s and public works departments while keeping the capital improvement budget as high as possible. Commissioners Nancy Thellman and Mike Gaughan, both Democrats, opposed cutting the heritage fund. Flory responded by pulling most of his other budget recommendations because, he said, he was against “spending on wants when we have needs.”

Flory was outvoted on almost all issues in the meeting by Thellman and Gaughan, although they had disagreements with each other as well, notably over how much to fund the Lawrence Community Shelter.

Thellman wanted to grant the shelter’s request for a one-time $50,000 infusion plus an increase in annual funding from $15,000 to $100,000. Gaughan proposed granting the $50,000 one-time request plus $50,000 in annual funding. Flory initially suggested $30,000 in one-time funding but withdrew that recommendation after his cuts were denied. The compromise proposed by Thellman and accepted by the commission was to cut the heritage fund by $25,000 to help pay for a one-time $50,000 payment to the shelter and to raise its annual funding to $80,000.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug recommended a higher capital improvement fund for next year to give the commissioners a “safety net” in the event of state funding shortfalls or possible declines in the county’s property valuation. Weinaug’s recommended budget included $4.32 million for capital improvements, up from about $4 million last year. In the compromise passed Wednesday, the commission cut $244,730 from Weinaug’s recommendation.

All three commissioners agreed to add $46,924 for a new job in the appraiser’s office as well as $55,636 for one new road and bridge employee. Keith Browning of the public works department had asked for two employees at a cost of more than $100,000. The commission agreed to add one employee now and perhaps amend the budget later to add another. The money for that second new position, they said, could come from the nearly $70,000 budgeted to hire four new emergency dispatchers. The dispatchers will only be hired if the Lawrence City Commission agrees to share the costs, but that funding wasn’t in the proposed city budget.

Gaughan, the commission chairman, said this year’s process was much like previous years’ in the dispute over the heritage fund and a few other issues.

“But the difference about this year is that we came out with a compromise for action,” he said.

The budget will now go to a public hearing at 6:35 p.m. Aug. 8 on the second floor of the County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.

Other changes to the recommended budget passed Monday include:

• A $5,000 one-time allocation for the Lawrence Humane Society. The group had asked for a one-time $15,000 allocation plus a $7,000 increase in its budget.

• The Emergency Management Department got $42,170 for two new tornado sirens. It asked for four.

Comments

irvan moore 2 years, 2 months ago

thellman doesn't care about the taxpayers as long as she can pass out the dollars to her pet projects. why on earth would we raise the funding for the shelter, don't they care that they are contributing to making it a growth industry that will break the budget every year and take money away from local agencies that actually do some real good for citizens of douglas county. as jack says about the city commission, worst county commission ever

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kansasredlegs 2 years, 2 months ago

Flory is the only one on the Commission with taxpayers in mind when making decisions. Thellman is up for re-election, it's time for the Rooftops which fund the tax base to see her out the door. Then it should be Gaughan's turn the next election. These two don't have the sense of a Missoura Mule.

Did they at least take back the pledge amount to Lawrence Theatre which announced it had reached its fundraising goals without gov'ment assistance? Remember, the Theatre only wanted to make sure it didn't lose its private grants. I believe that would have saved $50,000.

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jmadison 2 years, 2 months ago

Is the heritage conservation fund a renaming of the rural ecotourism fund which gobbled up $750,000 of tax funds?

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Bigdog66046 2 years, 2 months ago

$130,000 for the drunk, (homeless) shelter. But we don't have enough for $40,000 for tormado sirens?? Plus get rid of ANY funding to the chamber,($218,140). Biggest waste of money in Lawrence!! Is the $1.2 million for Health Insurance for Bert and Nash for the employees that work there?? seems VERY high!

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LocalYocal 2 years, 2 months ago

This budget disgusts me. The fact that we are more than quadrupling the ANNUAL budget for the community shelter and cannot even give the Humane Society an extra $7,000 annually, or even the $15,000 it needs once, is pathetic. Flory, hopefully we can get someone in there with you so you're not the only voice of reason in a crowd of hopeless politicians. Anyone who has ever had to deal with the people at the shelter will know that it is just a place that lazy, drug/alcohol addicts, criminals, and other strife go to exploit before they cause havoc on our community. People come from acrossed the country to exploit our community. I've heard it first hand. These people will admit that they either hopped a train or came to the town by other means just so we the taxpayers can pay for them to have a place to lay their heads between drug and alcohol induced binges. And how many people in the shelter actually NEED their assistance? I'd be willing to just throw a number out there and say 5%, with the rest just exploiting our ignorance. It's packed with criminals and we are actually helping them become better criminals! They steal, they make disturbances downtown, they are the lowest of the low and should not be benefitting from my tax dollars. If we want to have a shelter, then we should make a FAMILY shelter where people who just recently lost their jobs can temporarily stay until they get their feet back on the ground. This is not a drug rehab clinic, which is where most of these people need to be going. I would be more than happy to have a place that families in need of assistance can go to get back on track, help finding employment, and be free from the other vagrants that overwhelm the current shelter. Help the children and mothers trying to raise their children. Leave the men whom have made their own bed under the bridge stay where they're at. the Humane Society, and the take the rest and build a FAMILY ONLY shelter. Rooms with beds where a family can actually have a quasi normal living arrangement, and then help mom and dad get back on their feet with jobs. Intigrate them back into back in to the community as contributors to the community. But eliminate the drunk tank that we currently have at 10th/Vermont.

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LocalYocal 2 years, 2 months ago

It is going to take a leader. Someone who can SHOW everyone their the one who can make that change. I will do it. Because I am sick and tired of our police agencies, our schools, and our other important facets of government getting the shaft to these UNNEEDED programs that ultimately cause more problems than they help. We have to get our NEEDS and WANTS put in order. First take care of the NEEDS, and then if the is money left, we get our WANTS. Its simple economics. I bought a house because I NEED it to house my family. I WANT a boat, but I cannot afford a boat right now so the boat is on the back burner until I can responsibly purchase it. I NEED food on the table for my family. I WANT to take a vactiaon. Until I am stable enough to always be able to feed my family, we will be taking our vacations to the free swim nights at the pools, the peacefull drives around the county. That is sacrifice, and that is the mindset we need our commissioners to possess. I am sick of not getting my COLA and MERIT because some scum bags need a place to sleep off their drunk or drug-induced high.

SO, WHO'S WITH ME? WHO WILL ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING WITH ME TO PUT AN END TO THIS RIDICULOUS SPENDING! I KNOW WE HAVE FLORY ON OUR SIDE, BUT WE NEED TO GET HIS A PARTNER...OR TWO...WHO CAN SEE THE FORREST FOR THE TREES. BLOGGING IS FINE, BUT REALLY, DOESN'T GET ANYWHERE. WE HAVE TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL. WHO'S WITH ME? GET SOME IDEAS UP HERE!

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LocalYocal 2 years, 2 months ago

Watch out, because many more terms like this, I will be throwing my hat into the ring for a chance to get this crap settled once and for all. We cannot keep throwing money at these projects that serve only the scum of our community. There is nightly disturbances at the shelter, a very good point of fact to my earlier ramblings. Send these vagrants somewhere else so we can focus on what is a NECESSITY and not what make you feel like you're doing a "good deed". Anyone who thinks differently shoudl spend a weekend helping out this shelter and talking to the people that wander on in from all parts of the country to exploit us. Give the Humane Society their money. They are actually helping out the community. Those animals are abandoned and actually need assistance. they dont take advantage of the system, they're only animals. Take our shelter money and give some the the Humane Society, and the take the rest and build a FAMILY ONLY shelter. Rooms with beds where a family can actually have a quasi normal living arrangement, and then help mom and dad get back on their feet with jobs. Intigrate them back into back in to the community as contributors to the community. But eliminate the drunk tank that we currently have at 10th/Vermont.

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LocalYocal 2 years, 2 months ago

And what about COLA and Merit raises for the county employees that have to deal with their crap day in and day out. A 3% COLA and 1-3% merrit raise for county employees. Sounds like the commission isn't even interested in these kind of things. They better watch out, becuase before you know it, many departments will be moving toward collective bargaining unions just as does the lawrence police.I am sickened, and I will be the voice of reason and if it comes down to it, I will take charge publically to put an end to this irresponsible spending. There are much more better things we can spend our CURRENT money on then what we are.

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TheBigW 2 years, 2 months ago

So your running to replace Nancy this election?

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MattressMan 2 years, 2 months ago

Tell me LocalYocal, how do you really feel?

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Topple 2 years, 2 months ago

Somewhat upsetting to see they're providing the homeless shelter such a giant increase in funding but cant provide the Humane Society a few thousand...

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JHOK32 2 years, 2 months ago

The homeless issue is a tough one. I am sure that there are people there that have no desire to improve their lives by getting off alcoholism or drugs, but there are also truly good people there that truly need help. I know I have seen more & more toys in the front yard of the current shelter the past couple of years that breaks my heart everytime I see them, what have these little kids done to be in such a place? For the vast majority of us we should thank our lucky stars we didn't have to grow up in such an environment or have to live there today as adults. We should help those that want to help themselves - give them a chance & the tools & training they need to become productive citizens who can be proud of themselves again. I think Commissioner Thellman has good intentions to help those who need a break & to have self-pride again. For the ones who don't want to help themselves I don't know the answer, but I do know our nation sends billions of dollars to other countries for foreign aid each year when we have people going hungry & sleeping on the ground in every medium to large city in America. How about the insanely greedy SOB's on Wall Street that have done more damage to this country than any terrorist has? Millions of good people lost their jobs & homes because of these blood-sucking leaches. What have we done to these criminals & enemies of the state? Nothing! They are still giving each other millions in bonuses that we the taxpayers have paid for. A 15 year old kid can tell that what they did was not right, yet they get off scott-free! What the hell is wrong with this country? When is someone going to take these thugs to the gallows where they belong?

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