City manager’s recommended budget calls for flat property tax rate, increase in utility rates

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

The Lawrence city manager’s recommended budget for 2022 calls for a flat property tax rate and an increase in utility rates.

City Manager Craig Owens released his recommended budget Thursday evening. Owens says in a letter to the City Commission that this budget does not include a property tax rate increase and does not substantially reduce any significant services provided by the city.

Though it does not call for a tax rate increase, the recommended budget calls for increases in rates for water, wastewater, stormwater and solid waste services. Specifics of the recommended increases are still forthcoming. The letter states the details will be presented later in the budget process following an update of the city’s utility rate models, which rely on the annual financial audit that was recently completed. An executive summary of the budget states that many of the rate increases are related to increasing maintenance and capital needs.

According to an expenditure summary, there are three key focus areas of the recommended budget: reallocating existing resources to establish a Housing Initiatives Division within the Planning & Development Services department; investing in the city’s infrastructure; and adding approximately $5 million in new compensation for employees. The compensation increase is part of a two-year plan to bring compensation for city workers in line with market rates. There are also eight new positions, including a sustainability analyst, an equity and inclusion coordinator and a budget analyst.

The City Commission will receive the recommended budget and begin discussion at its meeting on Tuesday.


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