Douglas County Commission expected to finalize 2020 budget, discuss county administrator search

photo by: Chris Conde

Douglas County Courthouse, 2018.

The Douglas County Commission will soon consider authorizing its 2020 budget and begin discussions about finding a permanent county administrator.

The commission previously said it would not begin the search for a new county administrator until the budget work was finished. Commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing on the budget and finalize it during their regular meeting on Wednesday.

The budget proposal would raise the county’s mill levy from 46.015 to 46.394, an increase of 0.379 mill. That means the owner of a $200,000 home would pay the county about $1,067 in property taxes next year — roughly a $9 increase from 2019.

The commission gave initial approval to the budget during its meeting on July 17. While commissioners can make changes to the budget before finalizing it, they can’t raise the mill levy any higher than what’s in the current proposal.

After the budget consideration, the commission will discuss how it will move forward with replacing former county administrator Craig Weinaug, who retired in December after 26 years with the county. Sarah Plinksy, who had served as assistant county administrator since 2010, has been serving as the interim administrator since Weinaug retired.

The commission did not provide any additional information about the county administrator discussion in its meeting agenda.

In other business, the commission will:

• Consider funding additional improvements at the offices the county is leasing at 1006 New Hampshire St.

Some of the spending for the $340,000 project has already been approved. The remaining spending that needs approval from the commission — a total of about $204,000 — includes costs for furniture, secure door access, metal detectors, cameras, a fire system, office signage, kitchen appliances and data and network wiring.

The commission is modifying the offices, which formerly housed the Lawrence Municipal Court, to allow its Community Corrections division and some administrative staff to move into the building.

About $60,000 of the funding will come from the property’s landlord. The landlord agreed to help pay for the improvements if the county extended its lease from 36 months to 60 months, and commissioners approved that during their July 24 meeting.

• Discuss zoning regulations in regards to the rural areas outside the county’s urban growth area.

In a memo to commissioners, zoning director Tonya Voigt said there has been a significant increase in applications for residential developments in the rural part of the county in recent years. She said neighbors have voiced concerns about the loss of working farmland and the impact residential developments could have on rural roads.

Voigt said that the county’s comprehensive plan, Horizon 2020, calls for “strong and clear” distinctions between rural and urban areas in the county, and that the county should examine its zoning regulations to see whether it’s meeting that goal.

The commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Full agendas are available online at

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