WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

City leaders hope more funding for economic development will help decrease residents' property tax burden

The Lawrence city manager’s recommended budget includes a 20% funding increase for economic development, which city leaders hope could ultimately help lighten the property tax burden on Lawrence residents. City Manager Craig Owens’ recommended budget for 2023 calls for a flat property tax rate, increases in utility rates and other fees, and a $143,000, or 20%, increase to funding for economic development. ...

Lawrence school board to consider hiring consultant to help plan future use of school buildings

With potential school closures looming, Lawrence school board leaders will soon consider hiring an outside consultant to use enrollment projections and other data to help plan how the district uses its school buildings. As part of its meeting Monday, the Lawrence school board will consider approving a $120,000 proposal from RSP & Associates to complete an enrollment analysis and guide a facility master ...

City leaders to consider proposal to raise typical utility bill to $145 per month by 2025

City leaders will soon consider a proposal to raise the typical city utility bill to $145 per month over a period of three years. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will provide city staff direction on a proposal to increase water and sewer rates by 8.75% in 2023, 10.5% in 2024, and 12% in 2025. If approved, the bill of a typical utility customer using 4,000 gallons of water a month ...

Lawrence business proposes city reconsider current restrictions on downtown bars

A business that has struggled to adhere to the City of Lawrence's limits on downtown alcohol sales is proposing the city make changes to its code to essentially allow additional bars downtown under certain conditions. A city ordinance that dates back to 1994 requires new downtown drinking establishment licensees to make no more than 45% of their sales from alcohol. The businesses with bar use that already ...

United Way of Douglas County announces plans to merge with United Way of Greater Topeka

Story updated at 1:44 p.m. Wednesday: The United Way of Douglas County and the United Way of Greater Topeka announced Wednesday that the two nonprofit organizations planned to merge. The resulting organization, the United Way of Kaw Valley, would serve four counties: Shawnee, Jackson, Jefferson and Douglas. Leaders from both organizations, which are about 30 miles from one another, announced Wednesday morning ...

City leaders to further discuss results of homeless needs study as part of strategic plan

The City of Lawrence will be digging deeper into the findings of a recently completed study on homelessness and incorporating some of the issues raised into efforts related to its strategic plan. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received the 2022 Douglas County Homelessness Needs Assessment final report. Douglas County commissioned the study, which included an assessment of the ...

Primary election results for secretary of state, attorney general and state treasurer; few contested House races in Douglas County area

Kansas voters cast primary ballots on a number of state-level offices on Tuesday night, including for secretary of state, attorney general and state treasurer. With about 74% of precincts reporting at approximately 10:30 p.m., Republican Scott Schwab, of Overland Park, had 56% of the vote to be the party’s nominee for secretary of state, while Republican challenger Mike Brown, also of Overland Park, had 44%. ...

Thousands have already voted early in Douglas County ahead of Aug. 2 election

Thousands of people have already voted early in Douglas County, and election officials expect heavy voting to continue on Tuesday for election day. County Clerk Jamie Shew said early in-person voting has been “extremely heavy,” with the number of votes received ahead of election day already nearing 12,000 as of Monday evening. Turnout is being driven by the proposed constitutional amendment regarding ...

Lawrence City Commission to review final report of homeless needs study

City leaders will soon receive the final report from a study that examined homelessness in the area, including demographics of those experiencing homelessness and deficiencies in local support. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive the 2022 Douglas County Homelessness Needs Assessment final report. Douglas County commissioned the study, which included an assessment of the ...

Q&A: Melissa Etheridge talks about her latest album and coming home to Kansas ahead of upcoming Lawrence show

Grammy-winning musician Melissa Etheridge — with her distinctive voice and more than a dozen albums and decades of performing to back her up — will soon be coming to Lawrence. Etheridge will perform at Liberty Hall on Aug. 14 as part of the tour for her 2021 album "One Way Out." One of the country’s biggest female rock stars, Etheridge has had multiple platinum albums, won two Grammys, and led a ...

City of Lawrence to revert 15-minute parking meters on Mass. Street back to regular meters

The City of Lawrence is planning to revert the yellow meters along Massachusetts Street that only allow visitors to park for a maximum of 15 minutes back to regular two-hour meters. The idea initially came up at the Lawrence City Commission meeting on July 19, when the commission voted to adopt a long-term version of a program that has temporarily allowed downtown businesses to construct patios and outdoor ...

Downtown affordable housing project requests $550,000 from city housing trust fund; proposed designs also updated

Plans continue to develop for an affordable housing project on a long-vacant lot on the south end of New Hampshire Street in downtown Lawrence, including design updates and funding requests. The developer for the New Hampshire Street Lofts project updated designs for the building this spring to align with downtown requirements, and recently submitted an application for a $550,000 grant from the city’s ...

Lawrence outdoor pool to hold annual Pooch Plunge; pool will again close earlier than past years

Dogs will soon get their day at the public pool. The annual Pooch Plunge is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15 at the Outdoor Aquatic Center, 727 Kentucky St., according to a city news release. The event allows dogs to play in the pool before it is drained for the season. To participate, dogs must have proof of current vaccinations the day of the event and must remain under their owners’ control at ...

Lawrence school district sees high interest in public Montessori program, with more than 40 children on waiting list

Ahead of the first year of the school district’s free public Montessori program at New York Elementary, there is already a waiting list of more than 40 students whom the program won't have room for. The Lawrence school board approved the changeover at New York from a regular teaching method to a Montessori method in April, and the transition will begin next school year with the addition of a classroom called ...

City of Lawrence seeking community input as part of effort to update brand and marketing

The City of Lawrence is looking for community input as part of an upcoming update to the city’s brand and marketing strategies. The city allocated $100,000 toward the effort. That includes $81,535 toward a contract with Guide Studio, with the remainder used for implementing the consultant’s recommendations, according to city spokesperson Porter Arneill. The city selected Guide Studio, described as ...

Lawrence school board members ask for 'concrete' action to address achievement gaps for students of color

Some Lawrence school board members expressed concerns on Monday about the ongoing disparities between different student groups in the most recent state assessments that measure reading, math and science skills. As part of its meeting Monday, the Lawrence school board received preliminary data regarding the district’s state assessment results, which doesn’t yet include math scores for 10th graders. The ...

Staff pay, impact on students among school board priorities for 2023-2024 school year budget

With the district’s financial strain ongoing, the Lawrence school board has begun discussing its budget priorities for the 2023-2024 school year, with both staff pay and student impact mentioned as focal points. The Lawrence school board began budget conversations as part of a study session Monday, which is several months earlier than usual, with the aim of improving the process. Superintendent Anthony Lewis ...

Amid rising home values, Lawrence city leaders will debate potential changes to property tax rate

Amid historic increases in home values, whether the city’s property tax rate will stay flat, decrease or increase is still up for debate. While some Lawrence city commissioners told the Journal-World they remain open to a decrease, the commission also recently voted to maintain the ability to slightly increase the rate. The commission voted 4-1 on Tuesday, with Commissioner Brad Finkeldei opposed, to set the ...

With school closures again an option, Lawrence school board to begin discussing budget for 2023-2024 school year

With potential school closures once again on the table and staff pay remaining a focus, the Lawrence school board is set to begin discussing the budget for the 2023-2024 school year earlier than usual. The Lawrence school board will begin budget conversations during a study session on Monday. A district staff memo to the board states that the conversation was beginning early at the board’s request in order ...

City leaders approve regulations, fees for long-term program to allow patios in downtown parking stalls

After some debate about increasing the fee beyond the proposed $1,000 per parking stall, city leaders adopted the proposed long-term regulations for a program that has temporarily allowed downtown businesses to construct patios and outdoor dining areas in downtown parking stalls. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted 4-1, with Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen opposed, to adopt an ordinance ...