Lawrence City Commission to review adjustments to 2019 proposed budget

photo by: Journal-World Illustration

City of Lawrence budget

As expected, some significant adjustments to the city manager’s recommended budget have materialized, and the largest is related to home values.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive revenue and expenditure updates to the 2019 budget and the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The adjustments result in a $445,000 increase to the budget, bringing the total budget to about $206.5 million, according to a memo to the commission. The meeting is also an opportunity for commissioners to provide city staff direction regarding potential changes to the budget.

When the budget was first presented to the commission, City Manager Tom Markus advised that given news he’d gotten that day about home values, some of the numbers would change. Originally, the budget assumed a 6 percent growth in assessed valuation, but it turns out the increase was not quite that much. City staff has since received assessed valuation from the county, and the increase was actually 5.3 percent, according to the memo. The memo states that the change resulted in a decrease of $223,000 across all three property tax-supported funds.

Other revenues and expenditure adjustments to the budget include:

• Staff re-evaluated property tax delinquency rates and updated them to align with prior-year figures and current trends. The change resulted in a $173,000 revenue increase across all three property tax-supported funds.

• $124,000 increase in expenditures for emergency dispatch service, which is provided in partnership with Douglas County.

• $50,000 increase in expenditures for a disproportionate minority contact study, relating to rates of law enforcement contact for different groups. The study will be done in partnership with Douglas County.

• Increased expenditures by $61,000 for the implementation of priority-based budgeting, an initiative identified in the commission’s strategic plan.

• Increased expenditures by $40,000 for a citizen satisfaction survey.

The budget proposes that the city’s mill levy rate remain flat at 33.279 mills. The budget calls for an increase in the rates for water, sewer and stormwater. If adopted, city utility bills for the typical household would go up about $58 per year. The budget estimates that residents will see about a 4 percent increase in the cost of all city services next year because of increased utility rates and rising home values.

In other business, the commission will receive the 2017 comprehensive financial report. The outside audit is conducted annually and was completed by Mize, Houser & Company, P.A.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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