Douglas County Commission to consider pay increases for county staff, two rezoning requests that would increase density

After revenues came in better than expected last year, Douglas County leaders will soon consider providing raises for county staff totaling more than $650,000.

As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will consider approving market and merit pay increases that were not originally included in the 2021 budget, according to a county staff memo to the commission. The memo states that revenue at the end of 2020 came in above budget expectations, and county staff is recommending approving the pay increases, which would take effect in April.

If approved, specific market increases would be determined for each position category based on market data. According to the proposal, 17 position categories would receive a market increase between 1.7% and 3.9%, with an average increase of 3.1%. The highest proposed increases are for cooks, corrections and 911 dispatch categories; the lowest is for clerical staff. The proposed merit increase is 0.5% for all position categories.

The total cost of market and merit increases would be $666,206, and county staff is recommending the increases be approved effective April 4 of this year. Of that amount, $568,370 would be for market increases and $97,836 would be for merit increases.

In other business, the commission will consider:

• Rezoning approximately 47.1 acres located in the 1400 block of East 900 Road from agricultural district to cluster preservation district, which would increase the density of homes allowed on the property. The request, submitted by BG Consultants Inc. on behalf of Fairway LC, would be needed to accommodate a housing development with a proposed density of four dwelling units per 20 acres. The property is located northwest of the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Kansas Highway 10 and is within the Lawrence urban growth area.

Planning staff has recommended the request for approval, but the Planning Commission voted unanimously to forward a recommendation for denial. In part, the Planning Commission was concerned by the lot sizes, the proximity to the city and the fact that development plans for the area might need to be reconsidered.

• Rezoning approximately 20 acres located in the southwest corner of the intersection of North 400 and East 2300 Roads from agricultural district to transitional agricultural district, which would increase the maximum number of dwelling units allowed from one to two, according to the planning report. The property is currently used for agriculture, and the property owner wants to rezone it to accommodate land divisions and addition of a home.

Concerns have been voiced about the impact the additional residence might have on vehicle traffic in the area, but the report states the request aligns with the comprehensive plan and would not disturb the rural character of the surrounding land. Planning staff has recommend the request for approval, but the Planning Commission voted unanimously to forward a recommendation for denial based on concerns about increasing density in a rural area that was significantly outside the urban growth area and had “above average” land quality for agricultural purposes.

The County Commission will convene at 5:30 p.m. for its regular business meeting. The meeting will be open to the walk-in public at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., but a link for the public to watch live online is available on the county’s website, Residents may also call in and listen by phone by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and entering meeting ID 984 5295 2462.

Full audio from the meeting will continue to be posted on the county’s website, as usual. The meeting’s full agenda may also be found on the county’s website.


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