Douglas County Commission to consider approving budget that shifts $3M to ease jail issues

Mill levy would stay flat

photo by: Elvyn Jones/Journal-World File Photo

This photo from July 11, 2018, shows, from left, Douglas County Commissioners Michelle Derusseau, Nancy Thellman and Mike Gaughan.

The Douglas County Commission will consider Wednesday approving a 2019 budget that cuts or reallocates $3 million in current spending to be used for yet undefined measures to reduce overcrowding at the local jail.

Commissioners approved the budget for publication last month after deliberations over the cuts. The proposed budget maintains the 2018 mill levy of 46.018 mills. At that rate, the county’s share of taxes on a $175,000 home would be $926.

Among the features of the budget is a $1.4 million cut to the annual allocations to capital accounts for both facilities and road and bridges. Last month, commissioners told Assistant County Administrator Sarah Plinsky and Keith Browning, county public works director, to work together on how the reduced funding would be distributed between the two capital funds. The two will present their recommendations on Wednesday.

The $795,000 in 2019 facilities upgrades Plinsky is recommending includes $110,805 for mental health crisis center studies. Commissioners have agreed they will develop ballot language this month for a November referendum that would fund and build a behavioral health campus that includes a mental health crisis center.

The big-ticket 2019 road and bridge improvement project in the capital improvement plan Browning will present is the planned upgrade to about 1.8 miles of County Route 1055 (Haskell Avenue in Lawrence) south of the Wakarusa Bridge to North 1000 Road. The project is to include replacement of older and narrower culverts, the reduction of ditch slopes and repavement of the asphalt roadway surface.

The commission will also consider amending the transportation component of the joint city of Lawrence-Douglas County comprehensive plan, Horizon 2020, with an updated Transportation 2040 plan. According to a memo from Jeff Crick, planning manager for the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department, the plan prioritizes multimodal needs and investments in the county.

Commissioners will consider approving the 2019 budget and the associated capital improvement plan at their 6 p.m. meeting on Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.


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