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Archive for Thursday, June 27, 2013

City manager’s recommended budget calls for slight mill levy increase, 19 new city employees

June 27, 2013

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Employee totals and the city’s property tax rate would both grow under City Manager David Corliss’ recommended 2014 budget.

Corliss on Thursday afternoon recommended a 0.4 mill increase in the city’s property tax rate and proposed a budget that would add 19 new full-time employees, with the bulk of them located at the city’s $25 million recreation center.

The budget also calls for water and sewer bills to increase by about 5 percent in 2014.

Commissioners will spend much of July debating the budget, and are expected to give final approval to the spending plan by early August.

Corliss said the $184 million budget is making a strong statement about the future prospects of the community.

“We have laid the groundwork for a lot of solid growth and additional amenities for the community,” Corliss said.

The 19 new city employees would represent the largest workforce increase at City Hall in recent memory. Over the last three years, full-time employee growth averaged about three positions per year, and actually declined some in prior years.

But Corliss said the commission’s decision to add several new programs over the last year has made additional hiring tough to avoid.

“We’re expanding a number of programs that the City Commission has desired to implement,” Corliss said.

The $25 million Rock Chalk Park recreation center is creating the largest need for new employees. The recommended budget calls for nine new full-time employees to do everything from staff the front desks to maintaining the facility to programing the classes and tournaments at the center.

The budget also call for five new employees to staff an expanded rental registration program, four new employees in the water and sewer utility department, and one new employee related to the city’s curbside recycling program that will begin in late 2014.

As for the property tax rate increase, the largest part of it will be used to pay the city’s share of four more dispatchers for the city-county 911 emergency management center. The city will contribute $130,000 to add the four new employees, which aren’t counted in the city’s workforce total because they are supervised by the county.

Corliss also is recommending the tax increase be used to fund $80,000 in new public works equipment, $80,000 for a City Hall phone system upgrade, $30,000 for additional police overtime costs, and $20,000 for capital and operational expenses at the Lawrence Arts Center.

The 0.4 mill increase will raise the property tax bills on a $200,000 home by $9.20. The increase would mark the third straight year the city has increased it tax rate, including once when voters agreed to raise the rate to fund an expansion of the Lawrence Public Library.

This year, commissioners spent much of the year working on a deal to build the $25 million Rock Chalk Park recreation center without raising taxes. Commissioners chose to use recently unencumbered sales tax dollars to fund the recreation center rather than using the dollars to fund the other operational needs outlined in Corliss’ budget.

Corliss’ recommended budget will leave some tough decisions for commissioners. Corliss’ recommended budget does not include $200,000 needed to provided additional security at City Hall or the city’s Municipal Court building. The extra security measures — metal detectors staffed by security officers — likely will have to be put in place in order for the city to exempt itself from a new state law that allows concealed carry permit holders to bring guns into public buildings.

Corliss said commissioners will need to decide whether to add that $200,000 expense to the budget, or it is likely that concealed carry permit holders will be allowed to bring their weapons into City Hall and Municipal Court in 2014.

Other facts about the proposed budget include:

• $184.2 million in spending is about $10.3 million more than the city is budgeted to spend in 2013.

• The budget technically is anticipated to dip into the city’s general fund balance — a type of savings account for the city — to the tune of about $1.7 million. But Corliss said he does not anticipate such deficit spending actually will occur. The city has budgeted such deficits in the past, but then has reduced spending totals toward the end of a budget year to match expenses with revenues. The city has about $13 million in its general fund balance account.

Comments

JJE007 1 year, 2 months ago

I cannot fully express the feelings I have about this. Our property is declining in value and that makes no difference to those who feed KU and West Lawrence. Corliss says we have funds to cover things but raises taxes, just the the same, covering the lies of new project expenditures which benefit only a few. Corliss is Brownbacking our demise.

To heck with security for Chitty Chitty Hall Hall and Municipal Courtruption. To heck with Rock Jock Pork.

We are dying out here.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

Crime the hidden cost of all this wonderful future for Lawrence,Kansas. The more growth the more crime simple as that. How quick does Lawrence match Topeka before taking on KC Metro? The LPD budget may well be the largest expenditure.

Meanwhile ...... "Corliss on Thursday afternoon recommended a 0.4 mill increase in the city’s property tax rate and proposed a budget that would add 19 new full-time employees, with the bulk of them located at the city’s $25 million recreation center."

How much is the "Field House" costing taxpayers for real? when do the new expenses stop "popping up"?

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Charlie Dominguez 1 year, 2 months ago

Shouldn't be about Amyx voting against it, can he lead the fight to defeat it?!?! One thing to be safe and "be with the people", its another when you organize and fight the other west wing commissioners. What a disappointment the other Mike has become.

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cowboy 1 year, 2 months ago

A few thoughts....

Where is the head count savings from the robotic trash trucks or is this just a poorly thought thru boondoggle that does not work in a city where 50% are renters that move every year and pile all kinds of bulk trash on the curb.

With our annual 5% water rate increase , compounded by the accompanying sewer rate can our illustrious auditor justify this increase other than " we need more money'. Id like to see an independent study . the last time this was discussed it was noted that admin was siphoning off multiple millions of water revenue to support growing overhead costs.

Can the new rec center not be self funded , or have we walked into another perennial money losing city entity like The T , parking garages , parking enforcement services , the unneeded library in a digital age.

Is it too much to ask that our well compensated city management staff maybe one year each decade earn their pay by establishing some operations efficiencies that negate the annual increases ?

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crafty 1 year, 2 months ago

Well said cowboy. I, too, was wondering about that head count saving we were led to believe we would see in the sanitation dept.

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 2 months ago

The bus is used by a lot of people and it is needed. Might as well get over this aversion to using public transportation like the rest of the world. The library is also used by a lot of people for a lot of reasons. They still print books for a reason, there will always be a substantial number of people who want a real book to read. Going to the library means you can read every book you want to, and then, if you really like it, buy it.

You might consider doing research at the library on city government Not meaning to be snarky here, but to get the latest info on what is going on. How many of us knows more about what is going on in Syria than in Lawrence?

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George_Braziller 1 year, 2 months ago

The Municipal Court building already has metal detectors and staff.

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Tony Kisner 1 year, 2 months ago

Need to forward this to my boss to get a 5% increase. Note to self. Paint house then put on market.

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patkindle 1 year, 2 months ago

the higher the taxes paid, the better this place is to live most of the property taxes go to the schools so it is all about the kids the voters approved spending money on the transit system the library , and the homeless, so every thing should be just peachy no reason for anyone to complain

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

Remember PLAY?

The USD 497 expansion of public school sports facilities was the first stage of PLAY. This magnificent "Field House" project is the second stage. We're now at over $50 million invested in PLAY. What's the next stage? All of it in the name of economic growth.

The athletic industry does not support itself. It cannot survive without taxpayers being convinced it is in the best interest of the community. Yes even professional sports receives billions in tax $$$$$$ subsidies annually. It is in the best interest of the real estate industry.

The athletic industry is not the golden goose for taxpayers.

Taxpayers definitely did deserve an opportunity to vote on PLAY. Twice thus far taxpayers have been avoided,ignored and not respected. At least on the T and the library taxpayers were given the opportunity to express themselves.

Keep an eye on that high dollar Clinton Lake project in which local taxpayers have been shelling out a lot of tax dollars. Is this actually a third stage of PLAY? 80,90 maybe a $100 million for PLAY?

$70-$90 million for the new sewage treatment plant. More than $200 million for the SLT.

All in the name of economic growth...... for who?

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skinny 1 year, 2 months ago

Time for a new City of Lawrence Government!

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irvan moore 1 year, 2 months ago

i'm ok with hiring 19 new employees as long as one of them is the replacement for mr. corliss

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

I know David Corliss believes it is his job to sell the public on what the Chamber of Commerce advises our City Commissioners.

"Corliss said the $184 million budget is making a strong statement about the future prospects of the community.

“We have laid the groundwork for a lot of solid growth and additional amenities for the community,” Corliss said."

What solid growth? Is it economic or more residential that does not pay back? Solid growth based on what factors and exactly what tools were selected to justify the type of spending that was chosen? Just the facts please.

I do not see spending more and more on a police force as all that heart warming. That obviously means more crime on the way to solve.... not a lot of prevention. As we see in larger cities crime is not necessarily preventable. We know crime numbers are up following the past 30 years of expanding.

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Robert Wells 1 year, 2 months ago

Will there be any openings for those who are retired? I will need a job by then and I will be retired. I will not require benefits. I will have my own. Will the city hire me?

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crafty 1 year, 2 months ago

Okay, now I get it -- this is why the Chancellor needed that $60k pay increase...oh wait, she doesn't pay property taxes, does she? Her house is furnished and maintained free of charge yet I have to pay increased taxes with no increase in pay. What's wrong with this picture?

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 2 months ago

KU is responsible for all those things, not the taxpayer. The alumni decided to pay the increase in the Chancellors salary, it isn't coming from the taxpayer.

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optimist 1 year, 2 months ago

No. Housing values are going to start increasing. The necessary revenue will come from that or not at all as far as I am concerned. This is another hidden cost to the city for the new rec facility. This is what we get when the proper procedures aren't followed in approving a project like this. We get a lot of surprises, and by "we" I mean the tax payers.

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jack22 1 year, 2 months ago

Twenty year tax abatements for developers paid for with twenty years of rising taxes on homeowners. We're all paying higher taxes so Compton and Fritzel don't have to.

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pizzapete 1 year, 2 months ago

"This year, commissioners spent much of the year working on a deal to build the $25 million Rock Chalk Park recreation center without raising taxes. Commissioners chose to use recently unencumbered sales tax dollars to fund the recreation center rather than using the dollars to fund the other operational needs outlined in Corliss’ budget." See, we're not raising taxes to pay for the recreation center, we're raising taxes to pay for all the other expenses we have and couldn't pay for because we spent all that money on the recreation center.

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LeBo 1 year, 2 months ago

Too much spending too fast. Economic development is a term from the business community. Cities develop over time naturally.

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theoljhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Crafty, maybe you should educate yourself so you can qualify for a job like the Chancellor, if it sounds so attractive! KU Alumni pays for the salary increase.

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