Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lawrence City Commission sets stage for potential property tax increase, plans to cut some projects

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on May 3, 2016.

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on May 3, 2016.

July 12, 2017


Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for a property tax rate increase that would help fund a new police headquarters.

Commissioners at their meeting voted unanimously to set the maximum 2018 budget at $255 million, which would increase the property tax rate by 1.25 mills. Taxes are levied on 11.5 percent of a home's assessed property value, and a mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of that value.

Vice Mayor Stuart Boley said the budget is in line with the strategic plan the commission adopted earlier this year.

“This is the plan that we have come up with to deal with the infrastructure needs in our community, significantly the police facility,” Boley said.

Commissioners can reduce the mill levy before passing a budget in August, but they can’t propose an increase in the maximum budget established Tuesday. The 1.25-mill increase amounts to about $25 per year in new property taxes on a $175,000 home.

Mayor Leslie Soden emphasized that she wanted to keep the property tax rate flat. When asked by Soden, commissioners indicated that their goal was to find ways to reduce the 1.25-mill increase.

Commissioners came to a general consensus that as part of their upcoming budget deliberations, they would like to defer or reduce some projects in the $60 million capital improvement plan for 2018 so that the tax rate increase could be lower than 1.25 mills.

“CIP is going to be something that I’m sure this entire commission is going to look at, as to the various projects that we have and where we want to spend the money,” Commissioner Mike Amyx said.

The mill levy increase would help fund the first phase of a new police headquarters, which is estimated to cost $17 million. The plan is to create a campus that would allow the city police to co-locate with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to save costs. City Manager Tom Markus said the phased approach gives the commission flexibility with future costs.

“You then can adjust what that subsequent phase cost would be at the time you’re ready to go ahead and do that,” Markus said. “We tried to get this into an area where we could do about 50 percent of a reasonable project.”

Lawrence voters narrowly rejected a citywide sales tax to fund a $28 million police headquarters in 2014. Unlike the current proposal, that project was to involve a significant land purchase and did not seek to consolidate facilities with the county.

Commissioners voted to allow for a potential increase in the tax rate even though property values are on the rise. The increase in values is projected to add another $1.8 million to the city’s coffers that was not originally factored into the proposed budget, according to a memo to the commission. City staffers stated the mill levy increase is to provide additional resources in the city’s debt service fund, and that the revenue generated by the growth in property values is not sufficient to fund the increased bond and interest payments for the police facility.

The commission did discuss the possibility of using some of the city’s reserve funds to lower the proposed mill levy increase. City staff said they did not recommend that approach because it could lower the city’s bond rating, which could cause its interest rates to increase.

The public hearing for the budget will be Aug. 1.

In other business, the commission:

• Voted unanimously to ask Lawrence voters whether to renew a citywide sales tax that is set to expire next year. If renewed, the 0.55 percent citywide sales tax would be in place from 2019 to 2029 and is projected to generate more than $116 million for city infrastructure improvements, transit operations and affordable housing projects. The renewal would be part of the Nov. 7 election, and the ballot question would allow voters to consider each of the three components of the tax individually.

• Voted to defer a decision on a proposed water and utility rate increase until Aug. 1, in order to consider it at the same time as the 2018 budget. The rate increases would add about $65 annually to residents’ bills.

• Voted to defer the public hearing regarding VanTrust Real Estate’s application to the city’s Catalyst incentive program. The hearing will be held July 18 once all documents are ready.


Michael Kort 8 months, 1 week ago

Here is a link that shows the inside physical conditions of the Hoover ( 1931 vintage ) and the Ike ( 1954 vintage ) ground treated water storage tanks up on Oread .

I suggest that they fix these ASAP as they appear to be over the top to me but look and see and you be the judge .

Like a little rust or tank liner in your water ?

Michael Kort 8 months, 1 week ago

Those tanks are working storage tanks that store water in daily times of slack use and release it back into the system, etc., as the need arises so you can't just tear them both down and start over at your whim.....or KUs .

This is a project for winters lower water demand and KU needs to get over it and allow Lawrence to build new tanks and pumps on their land across the street and do a land swap once the new tanks are both built and the old tanks are torn down and gone .

Who runs KU ?

A bunch of 5 year olds that want the next pony ? !

25 mil for Rock Chalk, an arm and a leg for the 19th St entrance !

Storing water safely on that hill is both important for anyone who uses it as well as for fire safety for Lawrence as a whole including KU...and I wouldn't want to live down hill from that dangerous looking mess, as it is .

They store water made in off hours in tanks because you would need an expensive larger plant and distribution main system to be able to meet peak demand times without working storage tanks at various places here and there .

Brett McCabe 8 months, 1 week ago

Interesting that the same commission took a pass on $1.5 million in federal money for the Kasold project, and have done everything possible to dampen downtown redevelopment - which increases the city's tax base and provides a plethora of other long-term benefits for the community. Promoting sprawl will come at an exorbitant long-term price to the city.

A vote for Herbert or Larsen is a vote to make Lawrence below average. We need two vibrant, pro-Lawrence commissioners to combat the silliness of the current mayor and to start laying the groundwork for an economically viable city.

Lori Lampe 8 months, 1 week ago

Please check the math on the dollar amount of the tax increase: "The 1.25-mill increase amounts to about $25 per year in new property taxes on a $175,000 home."

Rochelle Valverde 8 months, 1 week ago

Hi Lori,

Thanks for your comment. Taxes are levied on 11.5 percent of a home's assessed property value, and a mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of a property's assessed valuation.

Thanks, Rochelle

Franz Bruyere 8 months, 1 week ago


As someone who is a new home buyer and doesn't yet understand 'mills', could someone please explain something?

According to the information in the 2nd paragraph, the 'mil' equates to 1.00 per 1,000.00 home valuation, correct?

So, in paragraph 5 it sates that a 175,000.00 home would see an increase of about 25.00 per year.

Sorry but these numbers don't match (based on what is stated above). The mil increase of 1.25% would increase the taxes on the 175,000.00 about 218.75 (175,000.00 / 12 = 175.00, x 1.25).

Am I not understanding how this works or is the article incorrect?

Thank you.

Andrew Applegarth 8 months, 1 week ago

The problem is that the article was poorly written and didn't include all of the relevant information for calculating property taxes.

While the mill rate is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, Lawrence only taxes on 11.5% of the appraised value (for residential). So, while the standard formula would be "Tax Increase = 1.25 x 175,000/1,000", the actual formula in Lawrence is "Tax Increase = 1.25 x (175,000 x 0.115)/1,000".

So, don't feel bad about not understanding an incomplete equation that will never produce the correct answer.

Andrew Applegarth 8 months, 1 week ago

No. The answer is correct, but the math they included in the article is not. Using only the math provided in the article, you get $218.75 for a 1.25 mill increase on $175,000.

Melinda Henderson 8 months, 1 week ago

There isn't any math in this sentence: "The 1.25-mill increase amounts to about $25 per year in new property taxes on a $175,000 home."

Andrew Applegarth 8 months, 1 week ago

Math is more than just the answer. It is the process by which you get the answer. The process laid out in the article was incomplete. Thus, the math in the article was wrong. People were questioning the answer they gave because the math they included resulted in a different number.

Also, I clearly said 'article', not 'sentence'. It was a nice try to cover your mistake, but they didn't edit the article because I was wrong...

Melinda Henderson 8 months, 1 week ago

If you feel better winning via your distorted argument, that's okay with me.

Andrew Applegarth 8 months, 1 week ago

The only thing distorted was the process of calculating property taxes in the original article. I'm sorry that you lack the intelligence to understand that and/or the integrity to admit it. If the article wasn't incorrect, why did they change it to match what I said? Why didn't they agree with you and not change it?

By the way, it's not about winning. It's about getting the correct information out there. I'm sorry if you think this is some sort of competition.

David Holroyd 8 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Kort, since you are the only one that understands about the storage tanks, why couldn't the water being drained from the big one just supply users instead of the water being released and running downhill again as it is again. Cille King should be delighted to know that the storm sewer opening across from her tri plexes is working or she would have water in her yards!

Now about taxes being increased by the city. How much in sales tax was lost when HERE got a free pass from paying sales tax on materials? Dollar amount? Would you happen to know Chad?

How much of the total was lost to Lawrence as I am sure all of the materials were not purchased in Lawrence or even Kansas for that matter.

Numbers please, anyone?

And the next time Stuart Boley talks about affordable housing, remind him that he wants higher property taxes. He has not a clue and I just love his comments about infrastructure being a police station.

I thought always infrastructure was streets, water lines, NOT facilities aka buildings.

Now read these words: The city employees will want a raise as their taxes will be going up. So that means another increase.!

Corn Cob, Pony(deceased,ghost of) Chickens, Hawkperched at Riverfront and One Eye Wilbur had a meeting late last night and partied along 12th street in the water. Some ducks came along also and cried fowl at Stuart Boley's idea of affordable housing,knowing full well that he can't come through unless at the expense of Juanita who moved from Eudora to be near One Eye who is now at Meadowlark> once a month he goes for the free lunch to attract retirees to move there.

Juanita, anyway brought along some weenies and put them on the hot pavement to cook. It was fun had by all except Pony, dearly departed.

So how much money did the city give up for sales taxes on the HERE project? you remember, the $75 million dollar project.?

David Holroyd 8 months, 1 week ago

Why was the Van Trust stuff deferred? Is it as questionable as the HERE project and has Van Trust played the city as did John Menard?

Here is the question about HERE again.

? Paper consistently reported the HERE as a 75 million dollar project.

FACT:Recorded Mortgage amount $51 Million dollars on 12/16/2014

Document title: Construction Mortgage, Security Agreement, Fixture Filing and Assignment of Leases and Rents

Date of of Document : December 12, 2014

So the 51 million was used to pay off the property purchased was something like 6 million and some hundreds...( have it somewhere) . so if one deducts 7 million lets say from 51 million that leaves $45 million which is what Chad the other day said the building permit was for.

The numbers match up in Lawrence Math.

But what is the 75 Million dollar project coming from? Where did the 29 Million dollar Valuation come from?

AND........what is the current status of the Construction loan as it was due and payable in full on December12, 2017 UNLESS extended pursuant to the terms of the Loan Agreement to December 12, 2018 and December 12, 2019.(see Book 1119, Page: 3811)

Is HERE still being financed with the construction loan?

Why would a bank, in this case Fifth Third Bank an Ohio banking corporation want to loan on something only worth $29 million according to the county appraiser's office.

Q: Was a new loan taken out after December 12,2017? If so is it recorded and for how much?

Now to the commissioners: How can you grant any tax abatement on a property that is $16 million under the permit taken out and$46 million under touted $75 million and at $29 million, it is under $22 million of the construction loan.

The abatement is already in the lower valuation.

Chad I cannot find anyplace but when the commissioners approved the tax abatement under the Neighborhood Revitalization Act, what was the total amount of the property to be taxed at, and the same question of the PIRC committee. Surely they had a figure from which to work with and support the abatement...

Just asking, but it appears that something is not more than right and now with the Van Trust coming into this again another lesson to the Commission in 101 Not paying Attention in Class?

Will White 8 months, 1 week ago

It is past time for the City to put the brakes on the bloating city budget.
Inflation over the last 15 years (2002-2017) is 36%.
City population, up 12.23% (83,682 to 93,917).
Operating budget, up 89.57% ($101M to $191M).
Mill Levy up 31.6% (24.733 to 23.553) note this is in addition to property value increases.
Sales Tax revenue up 59% ($18M to $28.5M).
Assessed Value up 56% ($593M to $929M) .
Property tax up 331% ($6.7M to $28.9M).
Per Person burden up 69% ($1,207.10 to $2,038.94).

Source, City of Lawrence budget and

$255M! Really!!!

Will White 8 months, 1 week ago

Don't for get the "price increases" for the profit generating services. (Water, trash, etc). Those too are really taxes

Michael Kort 8 months, 1 week ago

I hope that Chad noticed the link in my post at the top of this list of comments and looks at the pictures from inside of the tanks ( gross ) !

He might ask the commision if these tanks are structurally safe ? When they will be replaced ? and with what type of new tanks ? and what is the cause of the water running down 12th St that keeps David up at night .

Repaving streets is nice but not as essential as water, fire protection water supplies or the safety of those living below those tanks .

David Holroyd 8 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Kort, you should come to the party at night. It is quite festive,,naked folks running up and down the hill. But fret not, the draining of the swamp on Oread is over for a bit. He state health department as I understand it, willl not allow the tanks to go dry as they are taken down.

They are being removed and the largest one first. Poor Deborah Snyder will be disappointed to find out she is paying for the new ones as they are NOT owned by KU or Endowment or even the Athletic Association.

Now then Mr. Kort, the ongoing discussion before about the tanks was that Mr. Fritzel didn't like to look at the top of them from the hotel, aka INN.

What I do not understand is that why a new one is not built taller and look like a casino on the outside. Something with bling! The site across the street is really better for some kind of hoity toity residential overlooking the stadium since it wll get a 300 million rehab.

The tanks are going to be replaced at the expense of Deborah, Paul Beyer, Mr. McCabe, Mr. Heckler, me, my living neighbors (the tanks are the quiet neighbors) and of course Will White will pay,and Melinda, and Carol and Clara and many city employees who will then want a raise when they find out the water fees and taxes are going up.

About the city workers. In July 2007 , one Scott McCullough came onboard the gravy train at City Hall to a department that had 40 employees and a budget of $1 million dollars.

So what now is the number of employees in Mr. McCullough's employee and what is the dollar amount of the budget?

Mr. White you may have hit on something about a bloating budget. Can Chad tell us how much MR. McCullough is getting to engineer the LFK Express and the total budget?

Maybe Mr. Eglinski knows , if he is still employed, but then the Five Amigos known as the City Commissioners would have to engage his services since he works for them.

Mr. Kort, no party tonite the water done stopped,,,,I said to the workers "save the last dance for me" but I meant "save the last drop for me" and they obliged and said the Big Dance has just begun with the removal of the tanks.....Surely the Arts Community could save a panel of steel from the tank and install it along 9th street for some street art or maybe even Burroughs Trail and could be used for a graffitti panel.

Lawrence has no imagination.!

Michael Kort 8 months, 1 week ago

You apparently know all of the answers and everyone will pay and I agree that one tank would be a better but probably less redundant solution to having two of them .

Because we are dealing with the area volume of an enclosed circle, I believe that a tank of double the existing diameter would litteraly be 6.2 times the enclosed square footage, (if it works like the diameter of a water main ) and tank volume if built to a similar height as the old ones, so it wouldn't really have to be that much wider across the middle to to hold a similar volume of water as both tanks combined .

Of course if you can not cross the street into the holly land and build a single bigger tank with space for another future replacement for it, then I suppose that they "one at a time it " ?

We forget that someone paid for the existing tanks and that they probably were not that thrilled with the costs back in 1931 & 54.....or maybe they were ? Seeing it as progress as opp

I see rust and a place where bacteria can live in and there are extreemofiles that can exist in chlorinated systems .

Michael Kort 8 months, 1 week ago

I wanted to say above that seeing it as progress as opposed to seeing it as an obligation to fix something that is others problem but not ours ( or under my ownership ) to figure out .

I am on a fixed income also and it is always a challenge and I am aware of the fact that I could have a nice new mid scale car for what has gone from me to dentists over the years .....but I have not got a dentists student debt, an expensive office full of equipment, materials, recptionists and assistants to pay like a clock and the whole insurance burden of getting paid .

In highschool nobody told me that you could easily spend 2 grand on a tooth gone bad in a heartbeat........unless you just pay to remove it.........and if you think about it they are doing surgery on a person who is awake and doesn't want to be there but for the pain in many cases.....not a job that I would want because of the human element of disasterous surprise of the patients !

I was conserned about one of those tanks blowing out a pannels with much water washing out all below down hill .

The math is 8 lbs per gallon X 1 - 1.3 million gallons of water ( or 18.4 million lbs when both are full ) siting up on a hill ( what could go wrong with that ? ) .or when full, maybe 12 psi at the wall bottom X 144 sq inches per sq ft of lower wall,......or 1,728 lbs per sq ft of pressure pushing out against the bottom of the walls that are rusting apart at the joints ( or wherever ? ) !

The biggest cost for any city long term is rust and corrosion of all's like owning a end up being house poor over a money pit that drains you......often because you can't see what walls hide or do not understand or have control over building codes or end up dealing with problems built by others that just are beyond ones comprehension to know .

David Holroyd 8 months, 1 week ago

Mr. .Kort, I am not complaining about the cost of a new tank.Never said anything like that. My ongoing question is why wasn't much of the water in the one being drained used up instead of flushing it down the street and hill for now over 6 days.

I might add that the two tanks have always had water standing around the base ...only an idiot would not know that causes rust and corrosion on the outside. It didn't help when Fritzel and/or the Alumni association put in a sprinkler system to water the pine trees that Tommy had planted to hide the tanks from any kind of view of the hotel guests.

The city is totally responsible for irresponsible behavior to not have dug a ditch to move that water away toward the hillside into a tube to drain to the curbing...

Its a good think that the city manager and commissioners are not plumbers..after all they are responsible for what staff does.

Why cannot a new tank be buiilt and make it at least five stories and it could look like a castle. Then only one tank would be needed. After all the tanks are all about pumps and such...Pump up the hill , store, pump here and there.

The west side of Oread Avenue is being saved for another project that overlooks the stadium.

It is amazing the information that comes at the swap meet..some true , some false but in due time the false becomes true..After all the wannabee's want it to be their idea.

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