Archive for Monday, June 18, 2012

$42 million Lawrence police facility and staffing needs could require both sales and property tax increases

June 18, 2012


City budget officials have prepared a projection that shows it could take both a sales tax and property tax increase to fund a list of Lawrence Police Department facility and staffing needs that have grown to $42 million.

Now, we’ll see if the idea sets off any red lights and sirens with city commissioners who are working to put together a 2013 city budget.

“I sure would like to see us do this in a way that is less impactful to the taxpayers rather than doing this all at once,” Mayor Bob Schumm said.

But last month city commissioners asked staff members to produce a report that estimated how much the Police Department would need to meet its most pressing facility and staffing needs. A new report by City Hall budget officials does that, and presents at least one funding scenario. Here’s a look:

• A previously discussed police headquarters building is still anticipated to cost about $30 million, but now staff members have included an additional $12 million to add 46 positions to the city’s police force over the next four years.

• To pay for the $42 million price tag, the city report says a new 1 percent sales tax may be needed. The tax, which would require voter approval, would sunset after it collects about $32 million. City officials estimate the tax would be in place for about 14 months.

• In addition to the sales tax, a property tax rate increase of nearly five mills would need to be implemented to pay for the additional police officers. The current scenario pegs the increase at 4.7 mills and estimates it could be phased in over a four-year period. A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. A 4.7 mill increase on a $200,000 house would amount to an extra $108 a year in property taxes.

City commissioners are scheduled to hear more details about funding issues related to the possible project at an afternoon study session Tuesday. But commissioners are not scheduled to take any action Tuesday to move the project forward.

“It took us a lot of years to get in this position in terms of not keeping up with Police Department needs,” Schumm said. “To do this all at once may be difficult for the public to handle. This is going to need a lot of study and discussion.”

But City Commissioner Hugh Carter said he doesn’t want the city to put off the issue. He brought up the need for more resources devoted to the Police Department nearly two years ago when he began campaigning for the City Commission.

“The need is there regardless of what we end up doing,” Carter said. “The need isn’t going to go away just because we wait.”

City Manager David Corliss said he is convinced the Police Department is reaching the point where it will need new facilities and additional officers, or else it will have to change how it operates.

“Right now, the force is in a reactive mode, and we’re not able to react to everything the community is putting in front of us,” Corliss said. “I think we will have to start looking at what type of services in the department we want to say no to in the future, if we aren’t able to add resources.”

But Corliss stressed a scenario of adding to both the sales and property tax rates is just one option for funding the project. He said staff members could come up with multiple funding options. One option could include the city taking out more traditional bonds to finance the facility over a 20-year period. But a recent city staff memo said city commissioners likely would have to change the city’s debt policy to do so.

The city’s current debt guidelines say the city should not have general obligation debt of more than $1,100 per person. Once an $18 million library expansion is added to the city’s debt totals, the city would not have room to add a $30 million police facility and still meet the debt guidelines.

But Corliss said the city has the ability to change its own debt guideline and may need to do so because the $1,100 figure hasn’t been adjusted since 2002. The city still has sufficient room to add the project and stay within state-imposed debt limits for cities.

Carter said he will want to consider changing the city’s debt policy so the project could be financed in a way that perhaps would be more palatable to taxpayers.

“If we’re ever going to push that debt number higher, with rates the way they are right now, this is the time to do it,” Carter said.

Commissioners will meet in a budget study session at 4 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


Currahee 5 years, 8 months ago

  1. The police is ALWAYS a reactionary force genius. No one knows a crime is happening until it's reported.
  2. There's ALWAYS a "temporary" sales tax increase that conveniently stays in place even after it's "not needed". What are the "temporary" sales tax increases being used to fund now? The "much needed" rec center in lawrence?

You know what, we should just pay the State and have them send over the Kansas National Guard, because it seems that if the city council wants to spend $42 million (and they WILL spend it no matter what) for "additional safety" apparently Lawrence is the gangland.

eel 5 years, 8 months ago

Sales tax Property tax Gas Food and everything else has gone up or will go even higher

all except our paychecks living paycheck to paycheck really sucks Who is behind all this? I could tell you, but I would be labeled, then censored

GUMnNUTS 5 years, 8 months ago

I expect crime to drop to zero in Lawrence after this. If not, fire everyone.

classclown 5 years, 8 months ago

There are wants and there are needs. If the city would have refrained from spending all of their money on all of their fancy wants, there would be enough money to spend on their basic needs.

Sunny Parker 5 years, 8 months ago

When oh when will someone start working for the taxpayers!

kugrad 5 years, 8 months ago

In a city with a high sales tax in a state that taxes food, citizens cannot afford another sales tax increase. Who can afford a dime on a dollar just to eat?

Bill_Slu 5 years, 8 months ago

Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Dan Simons 5 years, 8 months ago

Riverfront, LLC has offered to sell the City of Lawrence the roughly 66,000 square foot building on the west end( next to city hall) of the Riverfront mall. The price is listed at $6 million with existing covered parking. Although I understand that I am not completely objective regarding this location, the City could re-purpose the building for the library and the new police station for less than 20 million plus up fit, all on city owned land.

Dan Simons 5 years, 8 months ago

Nope on a garage deal, and where are the weeds on our land that you deem offensive? Please be specific and I will get on it

Dan Simons 5 years, 8 months ago

At this point, the 120 ish surface parking stalls on our land meet our needs, where again were the weeds?

William McCauley 5 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

commonsenselawrence 5 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

GUMnNUTS 5 years, 8 months ago

Citizens review board for all policy employees.

JackMcKee 5 years, 8 months ago

Carter, welcome to the race with Cromwell for worst City Commissioner ever.

irvan moore 5 years, 8 months ago

my money is going to stay on cromwell for worst ever

JackMcKee 5 years, 8 months ago

Why can't a city so full of smart people field any better City Commissioners than what we have?

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

Give up on the City Commissioner form of government. Lawrence is too big and complex for a revolving door type of commissioners with their City Manager who seem to be the darlings of the electorate. Needed is a strong mayor type, who is directly elected and reportable to the electorate.

Keith 5 years, 8 months ago

Absolutely, and elect the commissioners by district too. If representative government is good enough for the state and the nations, it's good enough for local govt. too.

patkindle 5 years, 8 months ago

crikeys folks, just pay the money it will be ok. we can handle it nothing is too good for lawrence usa where is your lawrenceian spirit? the winers are sounding like missiouisans or nebraskans how gouche

SirReal 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't understand why, when AFTER the students left there seems to be a cop on patrol at every other block. Seriously, why do they ramp it up when students leave? They seem to have plenty of officers, at least out on patrol in the summer.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 8 months ago

OR. We could not build 20+ million dollar libraries and recreation parks and then we could AFFORD our infrastructure needs! Genius!

50YearResident 5 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence wants to attract retirees. New police station: Raise taxes. N/W sports center: raise taxes. Buy Salvation Army Building: raise taxes Build new shelter: Raise taxes. Improve sewer system: Raise taxes. Buy train depot: Raise taxes Improve streets: Raise taxes. New Library: Raise taxes. Need I go on?

SirReal 5 years, 8 months ago

As far as sewer goes, Lawrence is pretty bad,... That is a basic need that needs fixed, maybe you like crap coming out into your bathroom though I am not sure, I sure don't and the street I live on had to be dug up and have a sewer pipe fixed.

50YearResident 5 years, 8 months ago

You are a renter, aren't you? You don't pay property taxes, do you?

Paul Wilson 5 years, 8 months ago

Big*ot (biget) noun def. A conservative who has just won an argument with a liberal.

Synonymous with racist and homophobe.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Unless landlords are willing to lose money, they pass the costs of property taxes on to their tenants.

And, just in case, I'm a homeowner, so don't even start with me.

50YearResident 5 years, 8 months ago

• In addition to the sales tax, a property tax rate increase of nearly five mills would need to be implemented to pay for the additional police officers It is also a double whammy, sales tax and property tax raises.

devilsrighthandman 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh boy! Raise property tax on home values that are dropping??!! That 200,000 house will surely be worth 450,000 soon. Also, we are adults (at least most), so don't feed us that crap that once the tax is collected it will phase out. All good con men know this ruse. In good old text language SMH!!!!

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 8 months ago

I just don't see the need for more police officers. I would think if we were short on officers, we wouldn't send 4 of the 14 working at night into the bars chasing dangerous college sorority girls who are drinking.

LeBo 5 years, 8 months ago

Commissioners said they’ll want to hear how improvements in Police Department facilities will improve the service officers provide in the community.

Best point! They know how much but it will not make you any safer.

Most copper's today never ever consider the working stiff until they want new toys. The P. D. is doing a great job of nothing now. There is no crime in Lawrence just read the ljworld; unless you watch KC News they report the crimes in Lawrence. Each resident protect themselves and the inhabitants of their dwelling, ole' school. Too many rude bullies and fat bodies on the P.D. since Olon retired. This Chief is a lemon/lime.

My vote is no!

LeBo 5 years, 8 months ago

A temporary taxes to fund FTE's. An imbalance budget in the making. I am going to use my credit card to pay my mortage too. How many months will it take to be bankrupt!

commonsenselawrence 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm in favor of cutting services...
No more parade permits requiring traffic control. Put an end to all 5k/10k and any marathon requiring traffic control. Any crime that is not in-progress, make the citizen go to the police station or fill out a report online. Any traffic accident where the cars can be moved and there are no injuries, make them fill out a report at the PD or online. Alarms- give them one free one a year and then stop responding until the next fiscal year. Shoplifters - have the store employees swear out an affidavit in Municipal Court.

Anthony Mall 5 years, 8 months ago

Award for worst ideas ever goes to..... You!!! Great plan to cut things that attract visitors to Lawrence who spend money... Your genius ideas just keep coming with the "respond to one false alarm then stop responding" plan... really??? Let shoplifters go??? How do you fill out a report if you let him go??? Just assume he is going to give you a real name?? And the plan with the more holes then the Titanic is your accident plan... Under this brilliant plan police don't respond to non injury accidents... Does this include drunks driving through fences, hitting parked cars, or sober drivers that just hit you while texting... Oh and as your explaining your plan to insurance companies who will ask police for photos and a full accident report please explain to them all of your ideas and stop wasting our time...

usesomesense 5 years, 8 months ago

Why is it that our community leaders look to biased consultants to tell them what our community needs? The 'consultants' will be paid handsome fees for designing the finished products here - and the higher the square footage the higher those fees will be. It's not completely unlike when USD 497 contracted DLR several years ago. DLR reviewed facilities, surveyed staff and asked for their 'wishlist' and put together a big fat bond that voters shot down on first revision and accepted on second. It's very simply a conflict of interests. DLR's contract automatically awarded them the 'construction management' at a flat percentage of the entire bond. The bigger the bond, the bigger the payday. From what I've heard their 'management' of the projects primarily consisted of tending to a garden in front of their job site trailer.
True consultants don't sell products or services - they determine needs and make recommendations and are paid for their time. The fact is that if any of us were asked what we want, the sky would be the limit. Ask those of us that are practical what we NEED and the list would likely be pretty short.
Our law enforcement facilities over the last 20 years has grown tremendously. Until the mid 90's the downtown facility housed everything including the jail. Now we have a completely separate jail (that's significantly larger), the old jail space has been re-utilized AND we have the facilities at Bob Billings and Wakarusa. While our facilities have easily increased by 300% our population increase is just over 30%.

Let's do the math folks.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 8 months ago

with the "T" losing $3 million per year, we ought to just convert all the empty seats that taxpayers are paying for into a mobile police unit. This should free up more space and allow citizens to see exactly what they are paying for. I'd be willing to bet that all the empty space combined on all of our public transportation units is greater in sum than what they will build for $28 million.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 8 months ago

I would argue that my obviously joking idea post in all actuality is probably less idiotic than the idea of proposing a $28 million tax increase in our current economic climate. Here's a medical metaphor that I feel is very appropriate to the situation - when a patient comes into the ER and is losing blood at a rapid pace, there are numerous approaches to helping the patient depending on what is causing the loss of blood. Most doctors would agree however, that in the midst of an individual 'bleeding out', poking additional holes in the body to remove additional blood is probably not an effective life saving strategy. In case you're a little slow, let me spell out the metaphor. Our economy is that patient; we don't exactly know what is causing this rampant 'loss of blood' but we do know for sure that it is occuring and we do know that we need solutions or we're in big trouble. Regardless of your political affiliations, I don't believe anyone is suggesting that the absence of a $28 million police facility is what has held us back economically. Therefore, in that in no scenario is it a solution to the economic problem, it can only be considered at this point to harm the situation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"I would argue that my obviously joking idea post"

Given the plethora of "empTy" posts around here, there was nothing obviously joking about your post.

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

I have a 10-49 in progress at 6th and Iowa, can you drop me off there. Also, can I get a transfer to 23rd & Louisiana. It's donut-o-clock.

cowboy 5 years, 8 months ago

This proposal in This climate is completely irresponsible. I believe they saw the ramrodded library proposal and said why not us. Retention of the commission and city manager should be a ballot item.

irvan moore 5 years, 8 months ago

i'm not sure how many police officers there are now in lawrence but it seems like 46 new ones is a pretty big percentage increase. the logical thing to do is merge the sheriffs and police, one headquarters, one boss (whoops, that's a problem) one dispatch system, and on and on.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree with you beatnik. It's time for consolidation not expansion. If Wyandotte can do it, surely Douglas County can.

werekoala 5 years, 8 months ago

FYI, they already share a dispatch center. There was a story about how that needs several million dollars in upgrades by the end of next year, too.

Fact is, Lawrence has been coasting on reputation for a long time now. We used to have a great school system and strong core city services. So we got used to having them, and instead of the un-sexy work of maintaining them, we began to chase after whatever harebrained notion of The City Of The Future some special interest group or developer was pushing at the moment.

That's why we lose millions more than we should on an empty bus system, opened a fourth local golf course at a loss, are building a brand new library in which bums can read their kindles, and are about to spend millions to pay to run utilities to a rec center that will cost millions more, because, hey, we might wanna have a basketball tournament some day...

Meanwhile, our roads are crap, public safety is underfunded and understaffed, and we chase away all kinds of prospective employers.

Sheesh, I can accept the empTy, and all the other goofy "quality of life" projects my fellow Lawrencians have approved over the years, if you all can do me a favor and accept paying for decent roads, police, and sewer systems. Deal?

joshua1532 5 years, 8 months ago

Needs or wants? My first grader understands the difference, but government officials do not. Interesting.

tir 5 years, 8 months ago

Increasing sales and property taxes will only force MORE residents to shop (and live) elsewhere. Plus, we are already looking at the prospect of higher sales and property taxes to plug the holes in the state budget that Brownwhack's insane tax cut bill is going to create over the next few years. These local tax increases will be piled on TOP of those. This is a really stupid idea. March on city hall, anyone?

Jennifer Alexander 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe I am missing something here, but isnt the police station in West Lawrence fairy new? Is there room for expansion in nearby offices/buildings? I am sure the budget committee has thought about this. But $30 Million for a new building seems a bit over the top to me.

janinks 5 years, 8 months ago

At the time the judicial building was built years ago for the police station they spent more money then to build it so if they needed more space they would add on to the top of the building. Also they jail is no longer there and that has to give them alot more space. I think they need to look at the ORIGINAL plans from years past and decide how the current building will serve their purposes. The tax-payer has already given them their builiding they just need to use it as it was planned. The city should use their tax money where needed!!!!

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

beatnik(anonymous) says…

i'm not sure how many police officers there are now in lawrence but it seems like 46 new ones is a pretty big percentage increase. the logical thing to do is merge the sheriffs and police, one headquarters, one boss (whoops, that's a problem) one dispatch system, and on and on. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Thinking "....outside the box....." is not allowed in Lawrence, Kansas. Adding to your suggestion, beatnik: Why not also find a way to work/coordinate the KU Police Dept. into the City department? It'd be too much like right for these so called "city leaders" to THINK instead of simple tax and spending. And that includes the group who really runs the city....."city staff". The concept of making the city manager pass muster via the ballot box is a good one, too. Take a look at the city budget and discover just how much money these "city staff" rake in annually if you dare.

Carter demonstrates his arrogance time and again; from his stint on the planning commission to these inane remarks and "ideas" on the city commission. He's just another rich hack looking to make a name for himself amongst the "gentry of Lawrence" and is fastly exposing his very own jokester status. His efforts at making Lawrence a "retirement mecca" is almost as foolish as $42million for a police department.

The guy doesn't even really live in Lawrence per the database found here:; has no respect or consideration for the common person of Lawrence, even to the point of squelching democratic participation for the most part and ridiculing it the rest of the time, etc. He's pretty much cut from the same cloth as Schumm.....he's just looking out for himself and his "base", not to mention his own pocket......

Oh...and why we're at it....let's require "city staff", including police department employees, to reside in the City where they "enforce the law"....which really means protect the bars in downtown Lawrence, because that's where the bulk of police time is spent.....downtown Lawrence....which isn't a "downtown"'s just one large bar area.... People need to live in the City that pays their bread and butter and they need to demonstrate they're willing to actually participate in that place rather than commute to Lawrence from obviously, in their minds, "better places to live".

Steven Freedman 5 years, 8 months ago

How many police officers does a city need?? With 87,000 residents and 179 police officers, that's one officer for every 486 residents. An additional 46 officers makes the ratio one for every 392 residents. That's a pretty high ratio for a town without a lot of crime. If Lawrence police feel they don't have enough manpower to respond to serious crimes, maybe they could spend less time pulling people over for trivial traffic violations or harrassing college kids for drinking beer. Has a police department ever told a city they're overstaffed?

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 8 months ago

well, according to news stories over the last year, you need about a 1:1 police to citizen ratio at the RedBud apartments, and whatever new gated student apartment factory we're building this week.

Anthony Mall 5 years, 8 months ago

You can't merge city and county law enforcement... County monitor's unincorporated parts of the county, while city patrols the cities... As much as I hate taxes, this needs to happen...

repaste 5 years, 8 months ago

Mr Schumm getting leaving for a city subsidized trip to Japan tomorrow?

hipper_than_hip 5 years, 8 months ago

From the current Lawrence City Code:


1-201.1 GOVERNING BODY: ELIGIBILITY AND QUALIFICATIONS. The Mayor and each member of the Governing Body shall be a citizen of the United States, shall be at least eighteen (18) years of age and a qualified elector of the City of Lawrence, Kansas and must reside in the City limits at the time of filing for election and thereafter for the duration of their term(s). (Ord. 8337)

Hugh Carter's residence is indeed outside the current city limits.

jaywalker 5 years, 8 months ago

So many morons, so little time. I love the "maybe they could spend less time pulling people over for trivial traffic violations or harrassing college kids for drinking beer" crowd. Yes, obviously this is just some conspiracy by the commissioners to rob you blind, one penny at a time. The ten to twenty bucks it's gonna cost you over the course of a year is really gonna hamstring ya, I know.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe we can decriminalize drugs and reduce the police force instead of expanding it.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 8 months ago

The need for more police might just be to support the non profit tax dollar sucking places like Burt Nash and its new psyco ward, and the new homeless shelter. You see, if you recruit places that cater to undesireables, then you need the support staff for them. This whole thing is one big taxdollar suck. The empT provides transportation mostly for those who cant or wont pay their bills, the Library taxdollar suck provides AC and computers for those who can't or wont pay their bills, the Shelter speaks for itself, DECCA, LAC, New Community Theatre, DLA and all the other places that have their hands out for tax dollars are the reason we dont have and money.

The continue to suck what is left out of those of us who actually put into the system and give it to the non producers or the do gooders. Bicycle paths included.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 8 months ago

Has there been any studies done to see how much we could reduce the police force by simply decriminalizing drugs?

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 8 months ago

I think the entire video is worth watching but if you're in a hurry, use this link instead:

irvan moore 5 years, 8 months ago

one of the reasons we are going to need the extra police is because of the new homeless shelter and the crowd it's drawing. these are the 'retirees' that lawrence is attracting

Tomato 5 years, 8 months ago

I am so bewildered by this 42 million dollar project. They don't seem to be addressing WHY we need it in any way.

The police department claims it is understaffed and would like to add 26% more police officers. Why? Have we recently experienced a 26% crime increase? Why on earth would we need that many officers?

The police department claims that it needs a new facility. Why? Have we experienced many jail breaks recently? Are there riots in Lawrence that I haven't heard about? Zoo animals roaming the streets? Space invaders? Seriously. What could possibly be going on in this town that justifies this kind of expense on the police force?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence,Kansas the tax dollar money hole and growing since 1980. Why would this attract senior citizens?

The powers that be must consider senior citizens as a fiscal irresponsible group of people. Since when do senior citizens find themselves attracted to higher and higher and higher and higher taxes?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

In the real world...

It could be a buyers' market for years to come. In addition to the pending foreclosures that will continue to depress home prices when they hit the market, many experts predict baby boomers will begin flooding the market with homes for sale. Meanwhile, many younger potential buyers are hesitant to become homeowners and are renting instead.

A report by the Bipartisan Policy Center says as boomers downsize, approximately 26 million homes will come on the market by 2030. But younger generations are stymied by unemployment, tight credit, higher levels of debt than their parents and loss of confidence caused by the housing bust.

The report points to the Northeast and Midwest as areas that will feel the effects the most, and says it's already happening in some states hard-hit by the recession, such as Michigan.

Read more: Boomers to swamp housing market? |

purplesage 5 years, 8 months ago

Why do the police need a Taj Mahal for an office?

Robert Wells 5 years, 8 months ago

Dragnet, 1 Adam-12, Hawaii 5-0! All good exaples of why we should support local law enforcement. Jack Webb we miss you!

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

oneeye_wilbur asks a very "fair" question:

How DOES a retired couple live on a net income of $24,000.00 per annum in Lawrence?

The answer is: VERY uncomfortably.

When will the City Commission in it's present make up go public with how much money they believe a retired couple of two require to have a "decent" standard of living in this community?

Alceste wants the figures for a couple who has no mortgage payment as well as the couple who DOES have a mortgage. As well, the couple who does not own property but rents. What are the numbers?

Prove to the general public, members of the city commission, that your heads are not in the clouds due to your own personal wealth. Come clean for a change, eh?

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