City of Lawrence’s next 5-year Capital Improvement Plan calls for $172 million in 2025 spending, nearly $530 million overall

photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World

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

This week, Lawrence leaders will get their first look at the city’s nearly $530 million five-year Capital Improvement Plan.

At Tuesday’s Lawrence City Commission meeting, commissioners are set to hear a presentation about the plan and will be able to provide their input. The presentation is one of the first steps in the 2025 budget approval process that will be underway throughout the summer. The CIP is typically approved at the same time as the city’s budget each year in September.

Generally speaking, the CIP acts as a blueprint for sustaining and improving community infrastructure, and it includes specific projects that exceed $100,000 and either create a new asset or enhance an existing asset beyond its useful life.

This year’s CIP will forecast the city’s long-term infrastructure spending from 2025 to 2029, including roughly $172 million in estimated spending anticipated next year alone. Overall, the plan estimates about $70 million more in infrastructure spending during that five-year span compared with last year’s CIP, which included more than $460 million in project funding.

Year-to-year CIP spending has continuously climbed during the past several years. In 2022, the city’s capital spending approved for the following year totaled around $111 million, nearly double the $62.65 million the city spent on CIP projects three years earlier.

The plan sheds some light on how much the city intends to invest in significant projects like the planned multimillion-dollar field operations campus for the city’s Municipal Services and Operations Department. That project, for example, is estimated for $36.8 million in spending in 2025 and an additional $77.3 million in 2026 and 2027.

Here’s a list of some of the other projects of note slated to be funded in the draft plan:

• The plan calls for $27.2 million in spending on improvements at the Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Plant over the next two years; $21 million of that spending is planned for 2025.

• From 2025 to 2027, the plan estimates more than $12 million in spending for one project tagged “Farmland Remedial Alternatives.” That refers to the city’s ongoing remediation work at the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant in eastern Lawrence, the site where the city plans to build its field operations campus. The city committed to perform remediation when it acquired the property in 2010; when it was operating, the plant generated sludge and wastewater that were released into soil, groundwater and stormwater on the property.

• In the next two years, the plan calls for $12 million in spending on a reconfiguration project at City Hall.

• Starting in 2025, the plan anticipates nearly $30 million in spending on a pair of expansion stations for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.

• The largest single project cost over the life of the five-year CIP is the city’s street maintenance program, which is estimated for a cumulative $61.6 million in spending through 2029.

According to a presentation included with Tuesday’s agenda, commissioners will be asked whether there are any unfunded projects that should be swapped with a funded project, as well as whether they think any projects should be delayed or reprioritized.

That presentation also lists some assumptions that city staff is making regarding the plan. The plan assumes a 4% projected growth in sales tax and a flat mill levy with an accompanying assumed assessed valuation growth of 4%. It also assumes that inflationary costs will increase.

In other business, commissioners will:

• As part of a work session, receive a presentation on the results of the Lawrence Music Census.

As the Journal-World has reported, a census of Lawrence’s local music industry was conducted earlier this year for the first time. The census was intended to gather measurable information about the people who do music-related work in the community in order to provide them with better supports.

According to the presentation, the census includes demographic data about 826 respondents working in sectors of the music community and lists various needs identified based on those responses. For example, 82% of respondents said they wanted access to more audience development tools including local media, gig calendars and publicity.

While commissioners don’t take any action on work session items, the presentation does list some next steps. That includes setting a “clear mandate” for the Lawrence Music Alliance — one of the groups that helped to administer the census — and for music ecosystem development, with target areas for program development and growth.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. A live stream of the meeting can be viewed via Zoom or the city’s YouTube channel.

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