City of Lawrence’s budget simulation tool will be available again this year, starting Wednesday

photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on Jan. 31, 2023.

The City of Lawrence’s online budget simulation tool, which was used last year to gather community feedback on funding priorities for the city’s budget, will be available again starting next week.

Earlier this week, the city announced in a news release that the tool, called “A Balancing Act,” will be available starting May 1, next Wednesday, through the end of May. The tool will be available on the city’s website, along with more information about the 2024 budget process.

“The city budget affects our entire community — every single person — which is why it’s important to our organization that we’re hearing from Lawrence residents about what they prioritize,” the release reads. “With ‘A Balancing Act,’ community members are able to make decisions and reallocate funds among departments. But keep in mind, anyone using the tool will need to balance their interests and priorities against competing priorities from other community members as they determine how to create a budget that fits the needs of the entire community.”

Once the tool is closed for this budget cycle, city staff will take the input gathered and present it to community members at two in-person informational sessions to be held in June. Dates for those sessions have yet to be announced, and the release notes that more information about them will be provided in the next month.

In the release, the city also announced the key dates for this year’s budget cycle, starting with the presentation of City Manager Craig Owens’ recommended 2025-2029 Capital Improvement Plan on Tuesday, June 18. The presentation of the city manager’s recommended budget will follow three weeks later on Tuesday, July 9.

A public hearing for the Lawrence City Commission to consider the budget will take place Tuesday, Aug. 20. That’s also when commissioners will hold a hearing on the “revenue neutral rate,” the tax rate needed to collect the same amount of property tax dollars as in the previous budget year. During those hearings, commissioners will determine the mill levy — or property tax rate — that will be set for 2025.

Finally, commissioners will consider adopting a final version of the budget on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

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